Schooling in America

With summer holidays starting, I have been thinking of how this past school year has been… so here’s one post on how we coped…

When it was decided that we are going to move, most everyone told me that there would be no issues with Sam learning there. The lessons would be taught slowly and there will be no homework and he will enjoy going to school.

With that thought process, when we came here and got him into school – he should have ideally been in kindergarten, he was not even 5 and half years. Unfortunately (but hubby thinks otherwise) since he had already completed 2 years of Pre-KG and LKG in India, the school said he need not attend kindergarten at all and it is fine for him to go to Grade-1. We asked in 2 different school districts and nearly 3-4 schools but they all said the same thing. At that point in time, I was also convinced that we should give this a try, if we go back in the next couple of years, he can repeat the same class and he should be good.

Then the school started. All was hunky-dory for the first 2 weeks and then home-work started coming in. Homework, that as per the teachers should not take more than 20 mins, the little fellow used to take nearly an hour. Then we got our first letter home – He is not up to the mark in reading. We immediately scheduled a meeting with the teacher.

Back in Bengalooru, he had begun to write a,b,c,d and read small 3 letter words but here the expectation was to read small books. He didn’t even know that the book had to always be read from page 1! He apparently started reading from page 5/6 when asked he said he knew the book had to be read from page 1 but the last page of that book had baby of a Kangaroo called Joey and his friend’s name is Joey, so he liked to read that page first! So the teacher suggested we put him in a special reading class – where he would be taken out of class for 30 mins along with other kids who weren’t good at reading and would be given individual attention. So, from there started the uphill climb on reading. He got Math – math that I had to understand how to do and then teach him. different methods and techniques – number line, vertical grid, dominoes, graphs, count by 5s etc etc; He also had issues with statement problems – the trouble with reading and understanding the English in the problem made him loose track of the problem itself. So, we had to help him understand that as well.

Along with these issues with understanding, he had issues with bullying too. Being new and a child with high energy levels which made him getup and answer out of turn etc; he was being bullied by a few kids. This continues even now, but we have told the teacher and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him as much as it used to. He would throw tantrums at home for no reason at all, hit us and scream and after talking to him or at bedtime the real reason for his upset would come out. That was the hardest part. Not only are the kids here physically more stronger, this kid being the youngest in class was much smaller than the rest of the them.

I really thought we should change the school (this is not the best school district) and maybe get him to repeat grade 1 with kids his age. I was (still am) completely fine with him repeating a class if he can get back his confident, happy self and not feel “not capable” of doing things – these were the exact words he uses. Despite all these, he loves going to school and never once has he said that he doesn’t want to go to school. Such resilience!

But over the last couple of months, since April, with soccer and swimming where he meets other kids from his school and class, he seems to be slowly feeling better about going to school and we are feeling better too. After the last PTM I am now trying to relax that knot in my stomach when I send him to school everyday.

With the summer reading program that his teacher thinks will help him, I just hope that the steep climb will steady out by the time Grade 2 starts and we can have a happy little trek 🙂 through the year.

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4 thoughts on “Schooling in America

  1. Pingback: How we learnt to read! | Maya

  2. I’m really surprised that they would encourage you to put him in a grade that’s above the typical age bracket in the US. Isn’t the conventional wisdom that it’s ok for a kid to be on the older end of the age range and not the younger (unless the kid is seriously gifted). Also, my impression of education in India is that kids learn to read/write in kindy so I’m actually pleased to realise that’s not always the case.

    1. That was our impression too…that he might loose an year doing KG again…but since he understood english and could write a-z they decided he could go to grade 1. But the reading levels here are way higher than what they expect the child to know in KG there..and that was the trouble…he could’nt read the books they expected him to…They only taught him to write the alphabets in KG there…

  3. RS, I personally feel in India the school syllabus is advanced than here. My nephew is in Bangalore same age as Chucky and the things I hear about the homework and exams scares me.

    But you are right, it takes few months for kids to get used to a particular school and its standards. I have experienced it while moving states and schools within same state. You may have noticed kids read a lot here but they don’t write as much as in India. Also NJ school standards are one of the highest in the country.

    Chucky will be going to Grade 2 this fall too.

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