Post # 1
going anon for this, because I know talking about teachers is a sensitive topic.
Yesterday we learned that “Alex”, our nephew’s school wanted to hold him back from second grade (thus repeating first) because his reading is so poor. Alex’s parents are divorced with split custody. BIL recently married his live-in gf of three years, a second grade teacher. (I say Live-in only to express that she has been around the child consistently for years)
I feel like SIL, as a trained professional, she could have helped, or tutored or SOMETHING to prevent this. At the very least, she should have noticed the deficiency and recommended that BIL seek out extra help. Alex is in a good school that can test for learning disabilities and offers therapy, so my in-laws and I are having trouble understanding why this has happened. We have had some misgivings regarding SIL’s attitude towards Alex but try to overlook them. As a first time parent BIL doesn’t know what a first grade reading level should look like, but a 2nd grade teacher should, right?
What are your thoughts? Are we wrong to think SIL should have noticed/addressed this? I feel so bad for Alex, education is so important and his is suffering.
Before you flame me!! I believe that teachers do LOTS of work on their own time, I agree they are underpaid and usually overworked as a rule, and that all teachers are different and you can’t make general assumptions. I know many amazing teachers who would do anything for their students. I am speaking only of this one person.
Post # 3
- Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast
Some kids are just slower to learn certain skills, so assuming that something “could have” or “should have” been done to “prevent” this is misguided.
Post # 4
There are a ton of possible scenarios. Maybe SIL isn’t a great teacher, maybe she didn’t want to step on any toes, maybe she did help Alex, etc. etc.
Generally, there has to be a variety of reasons to hold a child back — I guarantee that there is more going on than just poor reading skills. I would assume that SIL has been working with Alex, but that the extra support wasn’t helping due to some kind of developmental delay.
With that said, when holding a student back, kindergarten or first grade is the best time to do it. That extra year can give some kids the biggest boost. Also, parents have to approve a child being held back. If they are so against it, they can deny the suggestion.
Post # 5
@lovekiss: excellent point. but to identify it so that he didn’t have to repeat a grade, that feels like something a trained professional would do
Post # 6
Well I don’t think you can pass judgement on her because you don’t actually know what she did or did not do to help. Some kids are just not students, no matter how hard you tutor and try to help them they just take longer to learn.
I would say that your nephew’s parents should think long and hard about holding him back. My mom was sick in 1st grade and missed tons of school. They held her back because of it and she was absolutely humiliated and it ruined her school experience from there on out….She thinks it would have been better for her in the long run to proceed to 2nd grade and be tutored to catch up rather than hold her back.
Post # 7
I agree with PP (and I’m a teacher). Whether or not she should have done something is irrelevant at this point. Plus, it’s totally possible she HAS been doing things and your nephew is reading better than he would have without her help. Kids learn/progress at different speeds.
This is where he is now and that is what is important. Not laying blame.
Post # 8
Holding a student back makes the student feel “punished” for something that isn’t necessarily his or her fault. The school, and his first grade teacher, should have noticed the problem and addressed it. If your BIL has an axe to grind about this situation, he should grind it with the school board (not his wife).
Post # 9
I think you are right that SIL should have at least noticed and informed BIL that Alex is behind in reading. Not doing so suggests that she is not spending enough time with Alex. Perhaps she has not embraced her role as step mom yet.
Post # 10
@somerrae: I totally agree. If a kid isn’t reading at grade level, holding htem back in early elementary is something to consider. At that age, there is time to fix it. I teach 9th grade English. If they still aren’t reading well by 14-15, there are a lot less ways I can help them catch up.
Post # 11
I do think if she noticed something, she should have told your BIL privately. But, being a live in girl friend and kind of step mom to your BIL’s son, maybe she didn’t feel it was her place? Like she didn’t want to be stepping on anyone’s toes and thought she might offend the family?
Post # 12
If he’s at a ‘good’ school that can test, etc, why aren’t you more concerned that his teachers didn’t address this with his father prior to the end of the year? Or why aren’t you concerned that his father wasn’t more attentive to his son’s reading skills?
Reading a lower level is not necessarily indicative of a learning disability, anyway. Small children learn at very different paces, and even different classes in a school might be going at a slower pace so nothing may have been apparent. Maybe as a family they don’t have a good reading at home routine, or they always read to him rather than have him read, so they didn’t have the opportunity to hear the child reading.
Also, his education isn’t suffering. If he’s at a good school as you say, he’s getting a decent education. Repeating first grade isn’t going to hurt him in the long run – in fact, it will likely be to his benefit as he’ll have an additional year to retrain and work on his skills and it will likely give him a good boost more in skills and self-confidence.
Post # 13
@beewho1: I think teachers can only do so much and it is up to any parent (not just teacher parents) to help and support their kids at home too. We can’t solely depend on teachers to give our children all of the skills that they need, and if my child was struggling, I would hope that I would notice (even though I am not a teacher).
It is easy to blame teachers, but parents forget that they have the primary responsibility to teach and raise their children.
Post # 14
It might not be as big a deal as you are thinking. In the school district my children went to, around 15% of the kids, probably 20% of the boys, repeated either kindergarten or first grade. The kids didn’t think anything of it. Those that stayed back went from struggling to being one of the best students in the class that next year. For most, that extra year of maturity helped them through the rest of their schooling.
Post # 15
my question is did the teacher address the reading issue earlier in the school year? if it wasn’t brought to the fathers attention, then the concern should be why his teacher didn’t address the issue. if it was brought to his attention, just because is wife is a teacher does not mean that she should be expected to help him with his reading. is it possible that she didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes (his mom) by stepping in and helping?
my other question is how is BIL relationship with his child’s mother? is nephew still having a difficult time with his parents being apart? sometimes divorce regardless of how long ago it may have been can play a huge role in a child’s academic progress. definitely something to consider.
it is definitely a teacher’s job to help students learn how to read but as others have said it is definitely up to parents to help them progress at home. BIL should be reading with him as much as he can. by doing this it reinforces what is learned at school. he can easily catch up to grade level especially because he is still young. it doesn’t mean he can’t work on his reading over the summer to catch him up to grade.
Post # 16
Why didnt his own father or mother recognize that his reading was so bad? What about his own teacher? I think blaming his step mother only is a little bit of a cop out. If the school is so wonderful I think you should start by questioning why they havent mentioned this all year.