Elf has been very overwhelmed with his "tiresome" days at public school. His bus stop was half a mile away, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't have locker troubles and have to carry ALL his books in his backpack. And bring his violin. I blogged a little earlier about how he was having a bit of difficulty this school year. I've met with his teachers and school counsellor this week to discuss Elf's adjustment. Elf has provided a list of things he wants the teachers to know about his troubles at school:
1. Lunch is too long. No one is allowed to get up and throw away trash or move from one table to another. I eat my lunch and then have to just sit and wait while everyone is talking. I don't know what they are talking about and I just want to leave.
2. I am listening, but not understanding the teachers when they talk. I am trying to do my work but it always winds up I DO THE WRONG THING and didn't do the directions right. Mom, it would be nice if you could be one of the teachers, but I won't ask because these people need jobs.
3. I don't understand my schedule. I am always going to the wrong classes and am going to be marked absent. Maybe I will be missing and no one will find me. I have an "A" day next week and have only had "C" days so far. I have a schedule but don't know how to follow it. I am going to get lost.
4. Lockers are impossible.
I brought up his concerns and here's what I got back:
1. This is the way lunches always work in our district. We're overcrowded and if everyone got up to throw away each scrap of trash and/or talk to friends, it would be mayhem. The children put all their trash in the middle of the table and then they are dismissed by tables at the end of lunch. They clean up and throw away trash at that time. (Ok. I find that a disgusting eating environment, but I guess you have to do what you have to do.)
2. What strategies did his other teachers use that might be helpful here? (Well. I was his only teacher until the very end of fifth grade. He got to ask as many questions as he wanted and I also picked out curriculum that is suited to his needs. I don't mean that your curriculum is bad, just that you have 150 kids that need to learn the same thing and I didn't have that. So... not sure how to help here except ask maybe that he sit near a good peer model if you assign seats and just keep his difficulty in mind, along with the 500 other things you also have to keep in mind while you teach.)
3. "Almost ALL the other kids are going through this, I promise!" The school counsellor said that at least four families just the previous day had a similar complaint. And if it helps, they haven't lost a kid yet. One of the teachers also showed me where she had organized Elf's binder and taped a handwritten/deciphered schedule to the cover. It also had a "Things I need for class each day" note because Elf WILL forget things. It was PERFECT. I just loved it. He forgets about everything except "bring the binder." Well, wow. It's like a checklist he can do as he prepares for class. He can do that.
4. His gym and orchestra locks were loaned to us over the weekend and now Elf can undo them like a pro. Turns out? The WRONG combination was listed on one of the locks. No wonder it was too hard!! There is a difference between a 2 and a 12, people...
After a bit of wrangling, I got Elf's bus stop changed to one about a block away. Not to be picky, but expecting someone with asthmatic symptoms that flare up in the winter to go that far and wait in the cold is too much. He had no trouble getting the bus but was very, very late yesterday afternoon. My, that bus was late. In comes a sweaty, sunburnt and exhausted Elf. "That's a long bus ride!" I told him. After he got hydrated a bit and expressed his extreme displeasure with the new bus schedule, he told me he got off at the wrong stop and walked well over two miles, much of it on the highway. I guess he doesn't recognize landmarks and will need to be very attentive on his ride today.
And why didn't you borrow someone else's cell phone and call? Oh, because HE DOESN'T KNOW HIS PHONE NUMBER. I can't tell you how long we've worked on this. He's lived in the same place all his life, and had the same phone number all his life. BUT. He can't remember it. Have sharpie-markered it inside his backpack. If he gets lost, he can find his phone number. Trust me, he'll remember where to look for the number, but he won't remember the number. No matter how many times we go over it.
I have *just* sent him off to the bus stop and asked him to 1. tell the bus driver what happened/ask for help knowing where his stop is, and 2. if you miss your stop, don't just get off the bus ANYWHERE. Let the bus loop back to the bus barn and give us a call. We'll be there as soon as we can. We might have to wait for the preschool bus to arrive before we leave, but we will not abandon you. You should not have to walk that sort of distance in the heat with a full backpack.
Well! We'll see how it goes today. I am very proud that he made it home and is able to express his concerns rather than freaking out (most of the time).