Kindergarten Conflicts

Angry kindergarten boy
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One of the very saddest moments of my life occurred when my son was in kindergarten. It was the moment I realized that my son had changed. He was no longer the happy and confident little boy he had been when I sent him off to school. He had been growing progressively unhappy and angry, but I remember the day when I was driving him home from school and he was talking about school, so angry and so frustrated.

He told me over and over how he wasn't learning anything, how the teacher was teaching things he already knew. He wanted to know why. He genuinely didn't understand why a teacher would want to teach him things he already knew. I had no answer because I didn't understand it either. It was obvious to anyone who paid attention that my son could read - and read well. Why, then, would he need to trace letters with his fingers in the sand on his desk? Why would he have to learn the sounds different letters made?

He told me over and over how he wasn't allowed to learn what he wanted. Why was the teacher preventing him from learning something new? He knew that there was a world full of information. Why was be being kept from learning in in school? Yes, he could read about all the wonders of the world at home, but spending hours a day at school kept him from learning. He genuinely didn't understand why a teacher would want him to learn new things.

I had no answer for that one either.

His experiences at home and at preschool had conditioned him to believe that learning new things was a valued activity. Nothing excited him more than learning new facts - usually about science, specifically space. He couldn't wait to share information he learned.

He often came running to me to share a tidbit he just learned from one of the books he'd been reading: "Mom! Yo what?" "Yo" was his contraction for "you know." I couldn't begin to count the number of times I heard an excited "Yo what?" I learned about Polaris from him. I learned about Jupiter's Great Red Spot from him. I learned about Neptune's Great Dark Spot, too. Much of what I know about the universe I learned from my son - before he even started school.

I tried to talk to him, but there was nothing I could say to make him feel better. I had talked to the teacher and to the principal. The teacher was then willing to do what she could. For example, she let my son bring his projecting planetarium to school and took the whole class to a dark room so my son could project the constellations on the walls and tell his classmates all about them. He didn't understand why they weren't interested in spending the whole day learning about constellations. He thought they just didn't like HIM and just didn't want HIM to talk about the stars and the planets.

Most of the time, though, the teacher's hands were tied. The principal had told her flat out that she was NOT to give my son any "special" treatment.

So that one day on the way home from school, I didn't know what to tell my son when he cried and complained about how unhappy he was at school. I did the only thing I could do at that moment...I pulled the car over to the side of the road and cried too.

The Consequences of Early School Problems

I would like to say that his was the worst of our experiences with school, but it wasn't. It was just the beginning. Experiences like this one can have some devastating consequences. For one thing, it affected the relationship my son and I had. Although our relationship was, and still is, a strong one, it was clear that he didn't understand why I sent him to this place.

It did, for a while, affect the trust he had in me. And it wouldn't be the last time.

Another consequence of experiences like this is that it can affect a child's desire to learn and can cause him to tune out to school and become an underachiever. It is far easier to keep a gifted child challenged and learning in school than it is to reverse underachievement when it sets in. That can be extremely difficult. Gifted children have special academic needs and those needs must be accommodated if we want to keep them actively engaged in learning.

Read more about my journey as the mother of a gifted child

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