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Is it something about 4th grade?

Posted by on Sep. 7, 2016 at 11:51 AM
  • 99 Replies
1 mom liked this

Or is it maybe just this teacher?

My 4th grader now hates school.  He was never particularly thrilled about school but he now hates it.  Every single morning when I drop him off for school he doesn't want to get out of the car, talks about how it's just so hard and how he hates being there.  I fear this is going to ruin things for him.  Last year he always hopped out of the car right away and said "see ya Mom" and ran off to the playground.  Not this year.

I've had one meeting with his teacher and will soon have more because we need to figure something out.  One big issue is that the curriculum this year is super heavy in writing.  In ALL of the subjects, including math, science, all of it.  She showed me the answer key for one of the recent math tests (she is using the EngageNY curriculum) and some of the problems had a small paragraph for the answer.  Damn, I don't remember writing small paragraphs for math when I was in 4th grade.  It was just do the calculation and show your work.  So anyway she's concerned because he really struggles with writing.  His writing is definitely not up to grade level.  She also showed me a sample of a page they had to write for some other subject.  Other students had at least 2/3 of the page filled up and their writing fit nicely in between the lines of the wide ruled paper.  Alex had about 2 or 3 sentences that do not fit in between the lines and just don't look like a 4th graders writing.  She said to me "I don't even know how to grade this".  I'm thinking to myself "really?  who's the teacher here?"

My husband and I were talking about this.  We know he struggles with writing, but at the same time we are wondering just how important writing is.  I mean, in this day and age, instead of forcing more writing practice on him (that was the teacher's suggesstion) shouldn't we be teaching him good typing skills instead?  I mean, how often do we all type vs write?  And when we write, how often does someone else need to read it?  Most of the time when I write it's just the grocery list so I'm the only one who needs to understand it.  Also, I have a close friend who has a son of her own with ADHD and other kids with different struggles.  It was her opinion that at this point in time extra writing practice isn't going to do any good.  She liked our idea of a good accomodation for him being allowed to use a tablet in class to do his writing assignments rather than writing them out.

I don't know what to think, or what kind of accomodations are reasonable.  This teacher is all concerned about his writing ability and even how he forms his letters (he doesn't form them in typical ways).  I told her that past teachers told me not to worry about how he forms his letters as long as he is getting them formed.  She went on a mini-rant about how she hates when teachers do that.  Which does what - leaves us parents in the middle trying to determine who to believe.

This teacher is also concerned about his focus and ability to stay on task and all that other stuff in relation to ADHD, but she seems extra hard up on the writing.  She also concerns me that she just doesn't know how to deal with an ADHD child.  She also doesn't seem up to speed on her IEP education.  During our meeting we went and talked to the spec ed counselor because the teacher wasn't seeing the add'l accomodations that I knew we put into his IEP last year.  Turns out she was just looking in the wrong place (which I'm thinking isn't it a teacher's responsibility to read an IEP cover to cover?)  Then the spec ed counselor was basically educating her on what she can and can't do in relation to an IEP and that it's not set in stone and she can make accomodations that are not listed and that it's a document that is always changing and that we can add to it at any time etc etc.  It seemed like she didn't know any of that, like if it wasn't already in the IEP that she shouldn't make any sort of accomodation, even if she thought it would help him.  So I'm also thinking shouldn't teachers be educated inside and out about IEP's and 504's and all that stuff?  She said this is her 7th year teaching but sometimes it seems like it's her first.

So, I'm sorry this went on so long but I am fearful for my son, afraid this teacher is going to ruin him for school, and unsure of exactly what I should and should not be asking for in regards to accomodations for my son.  Input from teachers or other parents who have been there would be greatly appreciated.

Here is a sample of his handwriting from his triangle write for spelling (sorry it's sideways):

by on Sep. 7, 2016 at 11:51 AM
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Replies (1-10):
mcginnisc
by Claire on Sep. 7, 2016 at 11:58 AM
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Fourth grade is the real grow up year. They are getting closer to middle school so the curriculum is going to be much more difficult than it has been in the past. 

As far as writing goes, yes, he needs to know how to write properly. I know our schools here rely on writing notes, etc..He also needs to be able to read it well as he will need to be able to read historical documents. I write constantly as do my girls. They don't use a computer for school work unless I assign them a project that they have to look up information for.. they write out their book reports, papers, etc. He does need to know how to type, but writing is a skill I think every child should have. 


Claire


" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 

Khooks
by Jessica on Sep. 7, 2016 at 12:01 PM
4 moms liked this
There's plenty of things you learn in school that are useless in most adults life, but I don't think writing is one of them. His writing needs improvement and it kind of sounds like you're just making excuses. And I think the other stuff is a separate issue entirely.
Traci_Momof2
by Silver Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 12:23 PM

OK then, how?  How do I help him improve his writing?  I don't think extra practice on the weekend is going to do it and it's only going to frustrate him more and make him hate school more.  He already works hard all day long, has a ton of homework all night long.  The weekends are his only time to be a kid and I will not take that away from him.

He gets speech therapy at school.  I need to find out if there is some sort of similar handwriting therapy that he could be in as well.

Quoting Khooks: There's plenty of things you learn in school that are useless in most adults life, but I don't think writing is one of them. His writing needs improvement and it kind of sounds like you're just making excuses. And I think the other stuff is a separate issue entirely.


fullxbusymom
by Bronze Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 12:28 PM
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He needs extra services to work on his writing and yes, you can request them and have him tested.  However, they won't do this without you requesting it and they can NOT deny you to have him tested for extra support. 

Writing is extremely important and yes, he does need to improve and learn how to write so giving him a tablet or computer is not solving the problem and only masking it. 

Traci_Momof2
by Silver Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 12:29 PM
1 mom liked this

That's you and your girls, but is that really the majority?  More and more schools are starting to issue laptops or tablets starting in 6th grade.  In college kids don't take notes by writing like we did, they are all taking notes on laptops.  Essays are required to be typed on a computer and either submitted electronically or printed out and submitted.  I think in HS or college if an essay was submitted in handwriting the teacher would laugh.

For a child who specifically struggles with handwriting, why not just launch them into the electronic world right away?  I mean, he knows how to write, he's just not particularly good at it.  For that matter, my husband is not really good at handwriting.  His is atrocious, yet he has a good paying job that supports our family nicely.  Everything he does is on computer.  The only notes he writes are ones only he needs to read, which is a good thing because no one else would be able to.

Quoting mcginnisc:

Fourth grade is the real grow up year. They are getting closer to middle school so the curriculum is going to be much more difficult than it has been in the past. 

As far as writing goes, yes, he needs to know how to write properly. I know our schools here rely on writing notes, etc..He also needs to be able to read it well as he will need to be able to read historical documents. I write constantly as do my girls. They don't use a computer for school work unless I assign them a project that they have to look up information for.. they write out their book reports, papers, etc. He does need to know how to type, but writing is a skill I think every child should have. 



Ritata
by Bronze Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 1:54 PM
2 moms liked this

It's hard when the kids are struggling.  Technology is great, but it has its limits.  The point of learning to write is to communicate effectively.  Writing can be done for instructional or entertainment purposes. Find out what interests him so that you can show him how writing plays into that.  Like comic books or working on cars. 

Kids need to learn to do things for themselves, not rely on a computer doing it for them.  And it's best to be supportive of the teacher who has to teach to the curriculum than to imply that learning how to write is not important.  They will need to write throughout their school years, they will learn many things that they may never use once they graduate. But communication skills are a lifetime skill.   

Linda_Runs
by Silver Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 2:03 PM
1 mom liked this

My 4th grader didn't turn 9 that long ago.  I think here anyway, 5th grade (10 years old) is a real grow up year.  I know that was the case with my 11 year old.

As far as school goes, from my parent perspective, I didn't see much of a difference from grade 3 to 4, but saw a huge difference from 4th to 5th.  Very likely it is the school system the the child is in that will determine this.

Quoting mcginnisc:

Fourth grade is the real grow up year. They are getting closer to middle school so the curriculum is going to be much more difficult than it has been in the past. 

As far as writing goes, yes, he needs to know how to write properly. I know our schools here rely on writing notes, etc..He also needs to be able to read it well as he will need to be able to read historical documents. I write constantly as do my girls. They don't use a computer for school work unless I assign them a project that they have to look up information for.. they write out their book reports, papers, etc. He does need to know how to type, but writing is a skill I think every child should have. 



GwenMB
by Gwen on Sep. 7, 2016 at 2:09 PM
1 mom liked this

Kids in college may take notes by typing rather than writing (I need to ask my DH how often he sees kids typing notes in class rather than writing them), but I've also seen studies that kids learn better when they write their notes rather than typing them. Yes, papers are usually typed. But my DH gives essay exams for midterms & finals & those are handwritten as they are done in class. Now, this is political science and not something like math. But I still think handwriting is important.

Even outside of an educational setting, we do occasionally need to write notes to others etc.

While I think a paragraph explanation of a math problem seems ridiculous, I do think kids need to learn how to write as a form of communication - even if it's typed. I'm not sure if you're just concerned about how he handwrites or if he really struggles with what to say. But there are very few careers that wouldn't be made harder if someone can't communicate in a written form effectively - even if it's typed rather than handwritten.

I do think you should request an assessment of his handwriting as other repliers suggest.

rhymia
by Bronze Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 2:22 PM

4th grade was hell. 

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" Hebrews 12:1


Sydel
by Gold Member on Sep. 7, 2016 at 2:51 PM
1 mom liked this

My dd turned 9 the first day of 4th grade. She struggles with reading and writing but does not have an IEP.

I have worked in professional offices for years. And met many high powered people whose writing looks similar to your son's. I think having him practice is a good thing. I don't think you should dismiss his ability or need to form his letters correctly and legibly. Yes a lot of things are typed these days. That's why dd's school has had her typing since kinder. But when Skynet falls your son is going to need to know how to write...... okay that was a joke. But seriously it's an important skill.

Personally other than having him practice (Is there an app where he can trace the letters?) I don't think you should stress that much. I personally don't like it when the schools compare students. No two people are the same and no two people learn at the same pace.

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