Starting Second Grade

Boy in Classroom
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After two dreadful years at a private school, my son was about to start second grade at a new school. Thankfully, he had been the one to bring up the idea of going to a different school. That was one less thing I had to worry about. A few weeks before school was to begin, we went out to buy the supplies he needed for school. My son was quite enthusiastic and I was becoming cautiously hopeful.

On the first day of school, my son was both anxious and excited.

He looked forward to meeting new kids, making new friends, and finally learning something. But he didn't know what to expect at this new school, so he was a little nervous, too. We drove to school and I walked my son to his classroom on that first day. The class was full - so many potential friends! His old school had small classes with only about nine to eleven kids in a classroom. I went back home, and in spite of my fears and misgivings, I began to think that the year would be a good one. 

It was hard to shake those fears. After all, this was the same school system that had refused to allow him to start school "early." His birthday was 28 days past the cutoff date and nothing I said or did could convince the school authorities to let him start school, even though he was ready academically, emotionally, and socially. Even when I showed them tests that proved my son was reading at a third grade level at age 5, I was simply told that kids that age can't read.

No one bothered to check either. How hard would it have been to pick up a third grade book and to have my son read it?

It didn't take long for the first signs of problems to appear. It came at an open house where the students' dioramas were put on display for parents to admire. It was hard to believe that the dioramas represented the individual work of second graders.

It wasn't a question of the conceptual design, but of the implementation. Second graders still don't all have full control of their fine motor skills. Of course, some do, but most of them? There was some rather tiny intricate work, almost flawlessly done. Then there was my son's diorama. He did it completely on his own. I'll let you imagine what it looked like.

I got a little lecture from the teacher on my son's lack of effort on his project. (I wondered if she meant my lack of effort in doing the project for him.)  He understood the topic of the diorama just fine (dinosaurs), but he did not and still does not, like arts and crafts. He never did. He didn't like any drawing or coloring. (His best piece of art work from preschool was a picture of Jupiter's red spot, which consisted of a piece of paper colored orange with a red oval in the lower right quandrant.) I explained to the teacher that my son enjoyed learning the material, but he didn't enjoy arts and crafts. You would have thought I said he didn't like candy.

Her response was "But all the kids like arts and crafts."

It was not going to be a good year.

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