School Frustration Please Help!

Updated on May 14, 2013
T.M. asks from Livonia, MI
19 answers

I am very frustrated and unsure what to do if anything. Here is the story. I have a daughter in second grade who catches on to things quickly. She was reading good in kindergarten, continued excelling in reading in first grade, and now in second grade tests at level T using F&P reading levels. She is in the highest spelling group and gets 100 most of the time on spelling tests. Math is not her strongest but she is in the highest math group and does pretty good with that too. She rarely gets to read with the teacher because she is so high at reading, she gets to read in the hall with the other kids in her group by themselves. My issue is that she was not challenged in first grade, nor is she being challenged in second grade. There are only two second grade classes this year which really stinks, so there are 29 kids in each class. There is a helper teacher in the class for one specific student, who helps out the teacher when needed also. There are quite a few kids with behavior issues that the teacher consatntly has to deal with. I help out with the class when needed and I can totally understand that the teacher does not have time to work with each kid individually. I feel that my daughter is wasting time going to school. She helps out one student with their work a lot but never gets challenged herself. I dont see the point of sending her to school so she can help another student all the time, sit there bored because she knows the stuff they are teaching, read by heself in the hallway, and finish her math homework at school because she is bored and has time. I have a fourth grader as well and some of the spelling words she has are ones my second grader already has had, so then I start thinking about the next two years at the school and it is going to be the same way. She gets to do the same work she has already done and is bored and starts to hate going to school. I can already see her getting lazy with her work now. She loves to learn and I don't want her to lose interest because she is not being challenged.I know that sometimes kids will be bored I get that, but it just seems pointless. I hear they are letting go two more teachers next year, what if they make it two third grade classes instead of three , it will be just as hard next year. I am so annoyed and frustrated. She did test for the advanced school and did not quite pass which I do not get. So that is not an option. Any ideas on what to do?

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answers from Washington DC on

She can't be the only one that is bored. See if you can talk to other parents in the class to see what their child is experiencing. If there are enough parents that fight for a higher-learning 3rd grade class, the school will provide it. As for this year, talk to the teacher to see what options remain. Perhaps a special project or presentation?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you considered having her evaluated to for the gifted program? Granted, not every smart child is gifted. But if she does qualify, she will be given an opportunity to stretch her wings a bit and be challenged in different ways. And you'll have "proof" that she needs modified/ more challenging work.

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answers from Kansas City on

I've Always found our teachers happy to give extra challenging materials when my son needed to be challenged. Did you ask for extra work? There are times of math websites you can access for her to do at home. And she can always read more challenging books at home with you, right? These are the grades were the kids pretty much level out. As she moves through school there will be more challenging opportunities available to her.

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answers from Chicago on

And this is exactly the major problem with our schools: all the resources go to the special need kids, including the gift, so the bulk of the students get passed by.

I was so bored in my middle of the road classes that I made never going to school a science. I got good enough grades to get into a big ten school, but I literally spent high school stoned because I was bored.

I would never send my kid to a school with class sizes greater than 20. All the research says 15. 29 is ridiculous.

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answers from Washington DC on

Not being in your school system, I don't know precisely by what you mean by "She did test for the advanced school and did not quite pass," but I'm going to assume here that your school system has some form of officially recognized "advanced academics" (as we call it here) or "gifted and talented" (as others systems call it) and that is what you mean by "advanced school."

If that is the case, have you truly investigated all the options for gettiing her into that program?

In our system, if a child does not test into the AAP (advanced academics program), the parents can appeal and can present teachers' letters, a parent recommendation form, and other evidence that the child should be in the more challenging AAP program despite test scores that are just below passing. Have you talked in detail to your school's "advanced school" liaison person, or to someone at the school district office, about whether there are options for parents to pursue if a a child falls just short in testing but the parents truly believe the child needs to be in this program? There may be options such as teacher referrals or principal referrals into the program for kids who clearly are academically advanced, and who need the challenge, but who perhaps do not test well on standardized tests like the ones used to determine entry into some programs. So be her advocate and get all the information as soon as you can, or you may miss deadlines for applying for an exception or submitting teacher letters, etc. The year is nearly over and any chance to appeal may be ending very soon.

It is very worrying when a bright child starts to hate school because she's bored. Have you had a face to face talk with her classroom teacher about this? (Without your child there, of course.) Does the school have any system for "pulling kids out" as it's called here for more in-depth work, when kids are identified as being capable of greater challenges? I would definitely tell the teacher your child is growing lazy and lackadaisical about school because she is bored and finds it too easy. Unfortunately, I suspect -- especially as it is very late in the school year and the teacher won't have time to work up something special for your child -- that the teacher will put it back on you and advise you to challenge her at home.

I would indeed do that; get her into summer "camps" or classes that are fun but educational (look up local science camps, math camps, writing camps for kids -- though usually writing camps are for kids older than yours). My daughter has been to a week-long writing workshop in the summer, a theatre workshop (great for kids who love reading and language) and "Mad Science" type camp with daily experiments that are fun.

But as for school -- if you cannot get her into the advanced program, and cannot look at other options like another school or private, you may have to get more involved and do things such as start a Math Counts or Science Olympiad or Lego Robotics program in her school next year, or volunteer to be the PTA person in charge of bringing in Mad Science for sessions of six or eight weeks of after-school fun classes (look it up online), or doing other things to stimulate her AND other kids who are lacking challenge. I hate to throw it onto you! The school should have more to serve kids like her who need challenges and who get left out when teachers must spend more time helping kids who are behind than working with kids who are ahead. But short of getting her into the advanced program, or moving schools, you may need to help the whole school by spearheading extracurricular challenges for these kids. (Last year my science-loving kid was soooo bored by science due to the teacher and the topics and it was participation in Science Olympiad that she said "saved my year.")

And in school next year -- be very clear and up-front with the teacher at the start that your child got bored and is on the cusp of disliking school if she does not get some form of better challenge in class!

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answers from Hartford on

I guess I'm confused where you have reason to believe that your daughter is so advanced that she must be bored because the academics aren't challenging her enough... yet you had her tested for advanced classes and she's not qualified. That tells me that she's not as advanced as you believe. I've seen no proof in your post about her being advanced. My 7th grader is reading college level material and taking high school level algebra. Next year she gets to put some of her middle school classes toward high school credits. Is that the sort of advanced you're talking about? Or do you mean "advanced for now" advanced?

What I think the issue may be is that she's having interest issues. She's doing well in the subjects that she's interested in. She doesn't do as well in subjects she's not as interested in. As she gets older her classes will take more effort, and that begins NOW.

As her parent, you need to help reinforce her lessons at home to make sure she stays caught up. Instead you're focusing on the students that need help, clearly with the belief that a specific child appears to be taking up time better used for other students/the class/your child. Well, if that student has a paraprofessional then that para is in fact giving time for the teacher of the class to work with the entire class. The para isn't there for the class as a whole unless there are more than one special needs students with IEP's that require a para. That's just something you need to get your nose out of.

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answers from Dallas on

Talk to the teachers and see if they can give her more stuff to work on. I had the same issue with my oldest. I wanted to move him up a grade but maturaty wise it's not usually the best idea. I know that here 3rd grade is when it gets harder and they start the standardized tests. My son took test since kindergarten for a gifted class but he never quite made it till 5th. Thats when he told us he had not been trying. You might see if they will retest her for the advanced school.

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answers from New York on

Homeschool her if you are not happy with the school.

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answers from Chicago on

Send her to a private school. They generally have smaller class sizes, and few behavior issues.

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answers from San Francisco on

If your daughter is a skilled reader she doesn't need anything from the teacher, she can continue to read and advance on her own. Kids her age are all over the place when it comes to reading, at all different levels, that's very normal.
Since she didn't get into the advanced program (here it's called GATE, gifted and talented education) it means although she may be very smart, she's not truly advanced.
You need to realize children develop in spurts. I was considered advanced as an early reader/writer, K thru 3rd grade, then I hit a wall. Looking back I can see I just really didn't like to memorize facts and solve word problems (still don't) but while that may be "boring" it's also a necessary skill to develop in life. Then in about 7th grade I shot ahead again, moved up an extra grade level in math and started really getting interested in certain subjects, English and life science in particular.
If you are truly unhappy with her education you could always home school her, but honestly I imagine she's just getting to an age where she's getting distracted by social stuff and is more interested in instant gratification than practicing concepts that require repetition and commitment to fully understand. Ask anyone with any level of success, the way they got there was with a lot of practice and fine tuning of material until they really, truly understood it.
And if she has a genuine desire to learn she has plenty of time outside of school to do that. My son has decided to start learning how to write code (for computer programs) so he's been learning through various tutorials and you tube videos. Education really is all around us, if you want it, it is often free for the taking!

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answers from Boston on

Seriously, the exact same circumstances challenged our lives, years ago. 29 children in two classes, and most of the children were not getting what they needed to thrive educationally. Funding was so tight, as we had just experienced a new tax cut initiative. The class parents worked together, met with the school committee several times, demonstrating the need for an additional teacher in third grade. And we won! Yes, the 3 third grade classes were small, but these kids deserved it, because they had lost so much time in huge first and second grade classrooms. And the best part is, they never cut these classes again! It took a while, but the children seriously benefitted from the addition of the teacher. I fully realize that budgets are tight, but I also know that better decisions about what to cut and what to fund are made when parents are involved. All my best.

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answers from New York on

I see so many different levels in my childrens' classrooms but what has impressed me is that it seems like the kids who are ahead are given extra work. And some assignments are just done to different levels of sophistication. My 3rd grader and my 1st grader write books in class. That way, some kids are barely writing sentences and some are writing very coherent paragraphs but everyone is working up to their level. No projects like that? I'm sure your daughter isn't the only one, as someone said, so you could talk to the teacher. Then have her retest for the accelerated school and if no luck, only options are private or homeschool. I will say I noticed quite a jump in expectations btw from 2nd to 3rd at our school. A friend's daughter at another school also benefits from "pull out programs" when her daughter goes with say 10 other kids to do math or reading bc she's ahead. Not all schools have the budget for this though. Her school has heavy parent funding. If yours doesnt, you may have to go private. The public schools can only do so much with their funding.

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answers from Dallas on

Is there an option of your child skipping a grade? Or can she retest for the advanced school? Other than that, unless there's a completely different elementary school in your district that she can attend, I'm not sure there's much you could do besides homeschool.

But all that aside, it's great that your child is so advanced!

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answers from Detroit on

not many choices..

1. homeschool.. using a curriculum at her level.

2. find a private school that will teacher her at her level.

3. explain your frustration to the principal .. see if they can do anything..

4. send her back to school for 3rd grade to socialize and be bored.. and at home challenge her with advanced work.

my son is similar.. a smart kid.. read at age 4.. he is in kinder so I don't worry about him learning in kinder.. he is learning school behavior social skills. but by first or second grade I really want him to be challenged.

I am doubtful the schools will help you as they do not get any award for helping the gifted kids... but if one of the slow kids does not pass the test. it is on the front page of the newspaper. oru school has 6 full time tutors and reading specailists and aides and all kinds of help for the strugglers but no special anything for the gifted and talented.



answers from Boston on

Unfortunately, your daughter is in good company. In most school districts, extra resources have to go to the children who are struggling. There is such a wide level of skills in the lower grades - you have children who entered Kindergarten who know how to read well and children who don't become fluent readers until fourth grade. Children who know how to add and subtract in K, or even understand multiplication and division, and kids who are still struggling with their times tables in grade 4. Kids who can write or spell with ease, and kids who will always struggle in that area.

If I were you, I would talk to the school board about seeing what can be done district wide to further differentiate instruction within the existing structure. Perhaps there is are curriculum extras that could be purchased without a huge amount of money that any teacher or even a volunteer could use with the more advanced students to give them something extra to do. The "enrichment" program in my elementary school was a series of really dopey workbooks that kids who were done with their work could do and quiz themselves on. Not really enriching, but better than nothing. They actually got rid of it after 4th grade and then we had nothing at all. A friend and I used to work in the office a lot, helping the secretary type things, collate, staple, etc.

At the end of the day, take comfort in the fact that by and large, the kids who learn easily do thrive, even without extra enrichment or formal challenges. Once kids get to middle school and high school, there are different tracks available. I was a very fast learner and went to a school where there was one classroom per grade through 8th grade. The only time we were split up was 7th & 8th grade math, where half of us started pre-algebra in 7th grade. Even with that, I got a scholarship to a very competitive high school and did well there and in college.

I know that a lot of parents are concerned that their easy learners will get "bored" in school and that "boredom" is the root of lousy behavior. That has not been my experience at all. My state has no funding whatsoever for gifted and talented programs so most school districts, including mine, don't offer anything. And yet our kids manage to do just fine. They live with the fact that school isn't challenging or interesting every minute of every day and thrive anyway. By all means see if you can get something added to the curriculum for students like your daugther but if you run into a brick wall, it's not the end of the world.



answers from New York on

This is such a difficult situation. Any academic challenges she is allowed to avail herself of, so that she is not bored with the material that they are currently covering in class, will just have her mastering material they will cover in later years leaving her bored again, down the line. i.e. if she masters 5th grade reading and math, she'll be bored in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.

Is there any arena she would have to apply herself in? perhaps in sports, or music etc? I would have a chat with the school, and see if there is something extra curricular she could work on quietly in class so she doesn't prove disruptive. i.e. memorizing poems, sudoku, logic games and so on.

good luck to you and yours,
F. B.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Has she been tested for your school's gifted program? If she qualifies she should get an IEP that will help keep her challenged. What does her teacher think? Talking with her teacher and the school counselor may help you all get on the same page. I am not sure when you say the advanced school, you mean a gifted program or an actual different school. My son's first grade teacher provides individual students with varying amounts of 'enrichment' in the form of more advanced reading and math tasks, more advanced vocabulary, additional science questions, etc.

My son is just finishing up first grade at our local public school. He will be doing accelerated reading and math next year. That means he will be doing reading with the regular fourth grade class and math with either the third or fourth grade class (we haven't received the final recommendation on math). He will also be pulled out of class for several hours a week to do a STEM based topic with other gifted kids in the first and second grades. He is in a class of 21 kids without a teacher's aid. The teacher still gives him plenty of individual attention.

If after having a conference with the appropriate school personnel (her teacher, school psychologist, gifted teacher, accelerated reading teacher, etc) you don't see any good options, you can look at private schools. They run the gamut from awful to exceptional and there are many many different educational philosophies as well - so a LOT of research here. Many private schools also do offer some amount of financial aid.

Home schooling is another option - but I think it would be an EXTREMELY challenging one.



answers from Portland on

This is a tough one. Were I in your position, I might consider doing an online homeschool curriculum and augment this if need be, or find a local homeschooling group that is more academically on-par with where your daughter is at. Some classical education homeschool groups actually meet at the school once a week and have group activities you can get in on (for socialization opportunities).


answers from Detroit on

I also have a child that is reading far ahead and is doing math way ahead of her classmates (she's in Kindergarten still though). This year, she has gotten into trouble because she is bored and disrupting the rest of the class. She stopped wanting to go to school. I decided that it's time to do something about it since I don't want her to stop loving learning simply because she isn't being challenged enough.

The options I came up with:
1) Go to the student services (or principal or whomever is in charge at your school of what students get placed where) and see about having her tested for advanced classes.
2) Keep her home and use a home-school curriculum of my choosing to keep her challenged and work at her pace (I have found many - both paid & free just by looking around online. Please let me know if you would like some of the info I found and I will gladly share it with you!).
3) Keep her home and apply her to an online charter school.
4) Possibly a private school.

She is such a social creature and we DO live in a wonderful school district so my first choice is to keep her in school in a special program. I talked with her teacher and the school had her tested for their advanced classes and they will be putting her in the one advanced class for 1st grade next year. We are going to try this option before any of the others.

IF we didn't have a good district or IF they didn't have an appropriate program, my choice would be to do one of the homeschooling options. Of course, this only works if you are able to stay home with the kids. I am currently in the process of starting my own business so I can be home with the kids more so this would be an option for me if the first one didn't work out.

If you can't stay home AND the district program isn't working for you for one reason or another, why not try switching schools? Do you have a schools of choice, charter school, or private school available and affordable to you?

Good luck. It's always hard when your child doesn't quite fit in with the standard learning curve - either above or below!

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