M-o-o-n – that spells challenge.

It’s going to be an interesting year. Every Wednesday the girls bring home folders filled with graded papers, important notes and reminders, and a sheet to be signed by the parent. Since the first week of school is mostly about creating their little schoolroom communities, yesterday’s was the first “real” Wednesday folder. It was a bit alarming.

Gracie’s was okay; not great, but okay. She had a couple 90s, an 80-something, and a 75. She tried to brush it all off until I pointed out her average for her week’s work was 87. A “B.” A grade that would lose her privileges if it was on her report card. She paused for a moment and then rallied. She knew she was just being lazy at school and she knew how frakking easy it would be for her to start blowing out 100s and 110s. (Which is sort of why I was irritated by the low-ish grades.)

Bee, oh beautiful Bee-girl. She was quite another story. I know school isn’t as easy for Bee as it is for Gracie. Maybe at some point it will all click, but for now she has to work for every sight word, every diphthong, every finished worksheet. I am incredibly grateful that for all my parental shortcomings, I seem to have an endless well of patience for Bee’s schoolwork struggles. Tears don’t make me snappish. Creeping bedtimes don’t make me anxious. I can sit in that chair next to Bee and help steer her towards the key to figuring out each particular problem all night long if I have to. And sometimes I do. She struggles, but the smile on her face when she figures it out is all it takes to make things right again.

You’ve probably guessed that Bee’s Wednesday folder was not filled with B average work. She had a check-minus on one page of homework. A 58 on another. Last week’s math assessment for 1st grade had a 71 – that’s a passing grade by just one point. Worst of all – her spelling test from last week had a 10. A ten. She wrote the first word and then nothing. It was blank. I know she knew the words – I drilled her on them all week. I turned to Bee who had collapsed in on herself at the kitchen table, sobbing that she had done her best. I patted her back and told her that I knew she had – that she would have to keep doing her best until she learned everything she didn’t understand. That her low scores meant that Ms. K. and her dad and I would all have to keep working on making sure she understood. I eventually pulled out of my poor sweet girl that Ms. K. had gone too fast with the spelling words. At first I thought Bee might have been making excuses for herself, but I know my child and one thing I know is that if she gets discouraged, she tends to give up on herself. I could see her missing one word as she slowly tried to figure it out, and then another, and then just giving up.

Bee and I worked on the rest of her homework. Then we reworked all of the graded problems she had gotten wrong. I don’t know if she’ll understand how to work through them on her own, but I can tell you that she finally understood them last night when we finally got up from the table. Then I let her take a nice long bath – with bath toys – to calm her down. When she was finished, considerably less rumpled in spirits, I gave Bee a spelling test on the words she’ll be tested on today. I sat her at the table and gave her a piece of paper and tried to replicate how her teacher would administer the test. Maybe if she duplicates the process down to the actual movements, she’ll do better. Bee’s a kinetic learner; I had been having her spell out her spelling words with fridge magnets. I know she learned the material, but maybe it didn’t help her “beat” her classroom environment. We’ll see how this works.

And if it doesn’t work, if she freezes again, well, I’ll just have one more piece of information for our parent-teacher conference on Monday. It might be an exhausting, struggle of a year, but at least I know I have good people on her team, that she’ll know the material in the end, and by golly the kid will know how to study and really learn material by the time she’s in college. And that is a challenge worth tackling.

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3 Responses to “M-o-o-n – that spells challenge.”

  1. Kim Says:

    Poor kiddo. Julie says that she is happy to talk through options, etc. regarding Bee’s literacy skills. (You know she’s a nationally-recognized master of ALL the Words and Word-Learning, right?) She even half-joked that she could have Bee read to her over the phone and diagnose any issues 😉

  2. Kathy Says:

    You are such a good and patient mommy. Bee (and Gracie) are lucky to have you.

  3. Agent Torklepants Says:

    Ahhh learning how to study will be so important later

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