Pencil’s Are Obsolete

G has a recurring problem with behavior and defiance during spelling/handwriting time in school.  He refuses to do his daily spelling worksheet, gets angry, throws things and gets physical with the teacher.  We discussed the inappropriateness of this behavior daily and were starting to get through to him.  So instead of lashing out he started running away – out of the classroom and out of the building.  Luckily, there is a phone in every classroom so his teacher has been able to call the office and get someone to intercept him. 

Whenever I tell someone this story the first question is, “Do you think second grade is too much for him and he should go back to first?”  I cannot tell you how enraging this is.  I feel like the person is questioning my judgement as a parent.  And I’ll admit this is because deep down I am very insecure about our decision to jump him. 

The problem G has with spelling isn’t the content of the academic work.  Of the 100 words all second graders are expected to know without error by the end of the year, G knows 97 of them now.  His teacher has a great program where each child gets a weekly spelling worksheet with 8 words chosen for the individual child.  G is already working off an accelerated list and is doing well with learning to spell them.  The problem is with the writing.  While his mind is in the 2nd-3rd grade level, his handwriting is still in the moderate kindergarten range.  We try to work writing in everywhere we can and he simply refuses to cooperate.  With great effort, I can usually get him to comply at home but in school he’s taken it to extreme levels.

I’ve been very worried that we pushed him too hard when we decided to skip first grade and have been wondering if we should pull him back.  I’ve been going over and over our decision making criteria and each time I reach the same conclusion, that 2nd grade is the best fit for him.  Then he throws another tantrum and I start the cycle all over again.

I went to pick G up from school yesterday and found the Sped teacher waiting for me outside his classrooom.  These impromptu conferences are a mixed bag, sometimes good and sometimes bad, so I started feeling adrenaline rush through me.  This one turned out to be one of the good ones.   She wanted to float the idea of taking G to the resource room for spelling/writing to work with him individually but needed my approval.  She also discussed using that time to teach G keyboarding skills.  If he can pick up typing, then he can get an alphasmart assigned to him and can use it in the classroom to type out his work instead of writing it.  She also reassured me that we had made the right decision to jump G to 2nd grade.  His intellect is too advanced to sit in a 1st grade classroom without becoming bored.  Boredom causes behavior issues and they would have ended up pulling him out of the class for accelerated work, he’d miss social opportunities with his home class, which would cause more behavior issues.  Basically, they believe behavior problems are unavoidable at this point and would rather work them out in the proper academic setting for G.  I’m breathing a bit easier.

I spoke with a teacher friend of mine later that day and she said she’d had students in the past with this kind of  writing accommodation and it always worked out well.  When I asked if we weren’t giving up on teaching him to write too soon, she said the writing will come easier if we don’t try to force it.  That makes a lot of sense to me – I’ve always found that letting skills evolve with little nudges was more effective with G than trying to force it.  I just didn’t think we had the luxury of that in this situation.  I am so pleased that there may be an answer to this issue and that the school proposed the accommodation.  I’m really impressed with their desire to meet kids at their individual level rather than trying to press them into the mold of a model student.

Now we just need to teach him to type!!

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Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 11:04 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. I really enjoy reading your posts. My J and your G are very similar. Both intelligent with AS. Only 1 year apart in age. Both hating to write and at times having troubles in the class. My J is currently in 2nd grade. In first grade he read all the Harry Potter books on own in 1 week. This year he has resumed his primary love of science and is into mushroom identification, biographies on Einstein and astronomy as well as quark theories and accelerators. -Not exactly what they’re covering in 2nd grade. I saw your post contemplating whether or not skipping G was the correct thing to do. We chose not to skip J. We figured that if the school work was easier we could focus on gaining the social skills. Do I think it was the right thing for us? Yes –BUT everyday I wonder if I am doing right by him as he is not academically challenged. So I do not think that the choice will ever be clear cut. You are doing a great job. If you ever want to take the discussion off line I would be glad to share in some of our experiences.


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