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  #1  
Old 11-28-2007, 04:55 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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A letter to my childs Kindergarten teacher - your opinions, please.

Perhaps we're expecting too much, perhaps we're not. But we're not very happy with Sophie's parochial school for reasons expressed in the following letter.

Questions:

1. Are we expecting too much? Both from Sophie and the school?
2. Does the letter come on too strong?
3. Does it sound like we're getting our money's worth?

Names removed to protect the innocent...

Quote:
JohnT and Mrs. JohnT

School Name

Dear Teacher:

God’s blessings be with you and your family this Christmas season.

We wanted to write in regards to a number of concerns we had with Sophia’s education and intellectual growth. As she has progressed throughout the past half-year at School Name, we are troubled by a number of areas in which she has seemingly regressed. It is our fervent hope and desire that we will be able to address these concerns on a personal basis, both in talking to you and improving our abilities as parents. However, we have no desire to “sandbag” you with a list of concerns without your being aware of them prior to our meeting – hence this letter.

The first, and in our opinion, least important, is her regression in her math skills. Sophia entered school with a minor facility in addition: 2+2=4, 3+4=7, nothing more complicated than that: I do not believe that she understood the concept of subtraction, but she did understand addition.

However, this small ability is no longer evident in her. When asked an addition question she has taken up the habit of guessing along the number range: “2? 3? 4?...” every single time. This is puzzling, but we are aware that children can and will display signs of regression, where an ability once in display is no longer evident. And if this were the only issue in which we’ve noticed signs of regression, we would not be writing this letter.

A more troubling sign of regression is her newly-displayed habit of writing many of her letters and numbers backwards. From toddlerhood-onward, Sophia has always loved to draw and we have made it a priority that, since she does enjoy drawing, she should learn to “draw” (print) her letters and numbers (as well as properly hold a pencil), skills that she has worked on since the age of four and fully possessed in her fifth year.

Unfortunately, we have noticed an increasing likelihood in the past 4 months of her writing her letters and numbers backwards, an apparent display of dyslexia in a child that never shown a tendency towards this problem. As you can imagine, this is particularly vexing as we have believed and known that Sophia entered Kindergarten already possessing the skills and ability needed to begin writing out actual words.

However, the most disturbing sign of a lack of educational progress on Sophia’s part is her complete inability to phonetically parse out words. She obviously recognizes some words, but if you complement them with closely-spelled homonyms, she will literally guess what the following words are. For example, she recognizes the word “Cat”. However, if you give her the following list:

1. Cat
2. Mat
3. Hat
4. Sat
5. Bat

She will only get the first word right, while guessing on the others. Her guesses always starts with the first letter (“Maybe?” “Maebh?” (a friend of hers) “Mackie?” (her puppy)), but come nowhere close to being correct.

This is especially bothersome to her father: Having been taught phonetically to read at the age of four, he is of the opinion that Sophia should at least be able to sound out this list of words and is upset not merely by her inability to do so but that she shows no understanding of the basic concept of sounding out. He has never been a proponent of the whole-language school of reading, believing that many of the concepts involved are more suited towards older children (such as deriving the meaning of a word from its use in a sentence). As English is based upon a phonetic alphabet, he feels that teaching children the phonetic basis of letters and letter-groupings is a far superior method of teaching basic reading skills, even with the number of exceptions (“bough” vs. “tough”) that exist in this language.

Our frustration and concern is not helped by the apparent daily use of a TV show in teaching literacy, the “Super Why!” programs available from PBS. To make sure there is no doubt to our position in this matter: We do not believe in the efficacy of Television to teach intellectual concepts, especially something as anti-TV as reading and literacy. The dichotomy between what is being taught and the methods used to teach it frankly boggles the mind: it would be akin to teaching music by mostly reading composer biographies. Television is more effective in teaching children social mores, “what is cool”, etc… but when it comes to actual learning, well, TV is useless.

As you know, the financial commitment to School Name is not inconsiderable – at least $700/month when extra-tuition activities and fees such as BAC, food, uniforms, fund-raising, and other items are added. We have made this sacrifice in the belief that not only does Sophia benefit morally from being in a parochial school, but also that the quality of education received is higher. We are beginning to question whether we are receiving value for our money – after all, we are paying for two schools: School Name and our local public school (through our property taxes).

We would like to meet with you later this month, at a time of your choosing, so we can discuss these issues and what we can do to both assist our daughter in her education and ensure that the quality of education received during her time in school is the best possible. Feel free to call us at the above number to set up a time and date for our meeting.

Thank you,

JohnT and Mrs JohnT
Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:02 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Your letter sounds fine to me.
But then, I'm rather tactless.

Your concerns are valid.
Better an involved parent than an indifferent one.

Consider this a tenative "OK".
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"He is an abomination of science that curdles the milk of all honest men!"~~One Dr Chouteh, possibly commenting on Bosda Di'Chi.Or not.
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:04 PM
DiosaBellissima DiosaBellissima is offline
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Honestly, it doesn't seem particularly unreasonable to me. If anything, I would hope the teacher would take this for what it is and be happy a parent is showing interest in their child.

The only thing that is specifically critical of the teacher's methods would be the comments about the utilization of television. I have to say, you make a very strong case, though I'm sure she has reasons for choosing that instructional medium.

Just curious: is the teacher particularly young? I ask because she might be a newer teacher who is trying to get her footing and would perhaps appreciate the feedback.
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:10 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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The teacher is about 50.
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  #5  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:13 PM
askeptic askeptic is offline
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I would leave out the part about how much the tuition is, I am sure the teacher is well aware of how much you pay and it is irrelevant to your concerns.

I would also not italicize the part about what you believe about the efficacy of teaching through television. Consider leaving it out all together. I doubt you are going to change the curriculum. If it is that big of an issue you may need to consider changing schools. I agree with you about the TV however I doubt a school will alter its school wide policies for one parent. Maybe by getting involved with other parents you could have some success.

You may also want to consult your pediatrician many of the problems you mentioned may not be the schools fault.
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  #6  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:21 PM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by askeptic

I would also not italicize the part about what you believe about the efficacy of teaching through television. Consider leaving it out all together. I doubt you are going to change the curriculum. If it is that big of an issue you may need to consider changing schools. I agree with you about the TV however I doubt a school will alter its school wide policies for one parent. Maybe by getting involved with other parents you could have some success.

Actually, I think he's more likely to have success getting the teacher to stop showing TV programs than he is in getting the teacher to switch from whole-language to phonics instruction. Although I agree that phonetic instruction is better, generally speaking, for teaching kids to read. (Phonics combined with teaching a small number of "sight words" seems to be the best, in my limited experience.)

I'm not sure I'd say that TV is completely useless for learning. I still remember stuff that I learned from Schoolhouse Rock or 3-2-1 Contact, not to mention the great phonics instruction I got from Sesame Street back in the day. However, I am of the fervent opinion that TV does not belong in the classroom, so I can't argue with that part of the letter too much.

I agree that you should strike the part about the tuition cost. Would your daughter's situation be more acceptable to you if you were paying less money? I am going to venture a guess and say that the answer is "no". So that section is irrelevant.
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  #7  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:30 PM
askeptic askeptic is offline
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heh

Quote:
Schoolhouse Rock
Conjunction junction, what's your function? Hookin up clauses and...

or

Lolly lolly lolly get your adverbs here...

or

I'm just a Bill, sittin here on Capitol Hill...

Last edited by askeptic; 11-28-2007 at 05:31 PM..
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  #8  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:32 PM
cher3 cher3 is offline
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Chalk me up as thinking that you are expecting too much. Kindergarten differs from preschool in a number of ways and there is a lot more going on socially and in terms of the attentional demands placed on the kids. My observation is that kids periodically regress in some areas as they learn more complex concepts and understand things more deeply. For example, she may be writing letters backwards because she's concentrating more on what she has to say than on the physical act of writing. She may also be adding a whole-word approach to reading now, too, which is a more advanced skill than phonetically parsing words.

Kids also learn at different rates. My son wasn't reading pretty much at all through the first third or so of first grade. The teacher was pushing us to have him evaluated for ADHD, but we dug in our heels and followed the advice of our pediatrician who said just let him develop. Sure enough, his reading took off like a rocket when he was good and ready, and now, in the third grade, he's reading at at least a 6th grade level.

Kindergarten has become way too much of a hot house, in my opinion. Largely it's due to the pressure to maintain standardized test scores--not because it's any better for the kids.

Last edited by cher3; 11-28-2007 at 05:33 PM..
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  #9  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:34 PM
Dag Otto Dag Otto is online now
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It sounds fine, except for this part:

Quote:
after all, we are paying for two schools: School Name and our local public school (through our property taxes).
I do not intend to start a hijack about why I don't care for it, but it doesn't really add anything to your letter. Concern for your daughter's education is what is important, and is something the teacher has direct control over.
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  #10  
Old 11-28-2007, 05:41 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Psychologically, when a teacher gets a letter from a parent that they have concerns about their childs education and they CC the superintendent or dean or what have you, teachers tend to pay attention to those types of correspondence. An active parent is practical one, no matter what the letter says the issues will get addressed. And if not, perhaps your child is in the wrong learning environment and should move on to a better school. Bad PR is crushing to come schools so they will take you seriously.
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  #11  
Old 11-28-2007, 06:09 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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I think your concerns are valid, but I think you also need to explore other options. Has Sophia been seen by a doctor recently? There may be a medical reason for your daughter's regression. By all means, meet with the teacher and see what she says, but I wouldn't single out the teaching methods as the one and only reason. You need to make sure there's nothing else going on.
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  #12  
Old 11-28-2007, 06:15 PM
Yeticus Rex Yeticus Rex is offline
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My kindergartener has regressed in some ways as well, but not all of the reasons have to do with school. IMHO, kids will regress somewhat because whatever one to one teaching you did with your kid at home is replaced by one teacher (plus aides) trying to find a good pace to teach 20 or 30 kids who may not have their parents spending the time that you did before kindergarten.

My kid has ADHD, but he knew his colors and shapes at age 3. He could tell the difference between circles and ovals, rectangles from trapezoids and hexagons from octagons. But now, he sometimes mislabels these shapes, and we may get some hostility from him if he can't remember them. Part of it is the ADHD, but the other part is that the reinforcement isn't there as much as it used to be, although we do have him with a tutor (2x weekly) and 10 workbooks at Preschool and K level. We also have resorted to medication to help him focus better and stay on task which is improving, but not near 100%. We also spend about 1 hour a night on these books.
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  #13  
Old 11-28-2007, 07:26 PM
dangermom dangermom is online now
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I think it's a good letter, but you should take out all the references to money. They're not necessary at all.
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  #14  
Old 11-28-2007, 07:43 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Quick question-

Why start with a letter? Why not schedule a conference to discuss your concerns and ask to see your daughter's in class work, compare with earlier school/home papers etc.

Sometimes letters can be seen as aggressive or confrontational, as if you're trying to document some perceived offense.

I'm speaking directly from my own experiences- when my now 7th grade son was in Kindergarten we did the letter to teacher route and found that we ended up having much better interactions by starting face-to-face.
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  #15  
Old 11-28-2007, 07:47 PM
Green Cymbeline Green Cymbeline is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
I think it's a good letter, but you should take out all the references to money. They're not necessary at all.
Agreed, this is not relevant to the teacher at all.

I also think you're expecting too much. It seems you're unfairly placing all the blame on the teacher. After all, shouldn't a good portion of learning (such as learning to read) take place at home?

I also agree that you should take her to a doctor to be sure it's not some sort of disability manifesting itself.
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  #16  
Old 11-28-2007, 07:53 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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I think your concerns are completely valid, and your idea of sending a letter in advance of a meeting so the teacher won't be blindsided is well-intentioned. But I've learned the hard way that if the tone of the discourse puts the teacher on the defensive, you will have an uphill battle ahead of you.

I would reduce the body of the letter to bullet points and save the detail for the face-to-face meeting. I would take out the parts about TV and tuition. Regardless of whether the teacher believes TV is a wonderful teaching medium or is lazy, she is not likely to change her classroom methods because your opinion differs from hers. This is a topic I would reserve for the meeting with her.

Kindergarten -- you feel like your kid's intellectual foundations are being forged here, and it's scary as hell if you think your kid is not in good hands. Ivylass's suggestion of getting some additional evaluation is excellent.
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  #17  
Old 11-28-2007, 08:49 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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OK, once again, as in previous threads about noisy neighbours, or trespassing neighbours, I''m perplexed as to why -- seemingly only in the US -- you would prefer to begin dialog with a FUCKING LETTER.

Go and speak to the damned teacher already!

Last edited by Leaffan; 11-28-2007 at 08:50 PM..
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  #18  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:02 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by askeptic
I would leave out the part about how much the tuition is, I am sure the teacher is well aware of how much you pay and it is irrelevant to your concerns.

I would also not italicize the part about what you believe about the efficacy of teaching through television. Consider leaving it out all together. I doubt you are going to change the curriculum. If it is that big of an issue you may need to consider changing schools. I agree with you about the TV however I doubt a school will alter its school wide policies for one parent. Maybe by getting involved with other parents you could have some success.

You may also want to consult your pediatrician many of the problems you mentioned may not be the schools fault.
Noted about the money part. Probably will do in the rewrite. You know how it is... you kind of get in the swing of things and you're bringing out all the issues, not just the ones that matters.

I'm going to leave the thing about the TV in, though, as it is a BIG thing with me. I (being a little bastard that I am) have actually tested this a number of times with my wife, friends, and Sophie. We'll watch an "educational" show about whatever and about 15 minutes/half hour after watching I'll start asking questions about it... the lack of correct responses is amazing. One time, my wife watched an entire show about Egyptian pyramids (not just Cheops) and couldn't remember the name of the guy who first designed one, how many blocks were used at Cheops (within 500,000), or what kind of rocks were originally on the outside.

Good advice about the pediatrician. Danke.
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  #19  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:05 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsWhatsit
I'm not sure I'd say that TV is completely useless for learning. I still remember stuff that I learned from Schoolhouse Rock or 3-2-1 Contact, not to mention the great phonics instruction I got from Sesame Street back in the day. However, I am of the fervent opinion that TV does not belong in the classroom, so I can't argue with that part of the letter too much.
But let me ask... is it the songs you remember, or the facts that were spoken?

In my experience, people do mention Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street... and when I ask, they tend to reference the music more than anything else. (For some reason, I tend to remember those space creatures who imitated the phone in a Bert and Ernie skit. Go figure).

Yeah, I'll drop the tuition bit.
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  #20  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:06 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cher3
Chalk me up as thinking that you are expecting too much. Kindergarten differs from preschool in a number of ways and there is a lot more going on socially and in terms of the attentional demands placed on the kids. My observation is that kids periodically regress in some areas as they learn more complex concepts and understand things more deeply. For example, she may be writing letters backwards because she's concentrating more on what she has to say than on the physical act of writing. She may also be adding a whole-word approach to reading now, too, which is a more advanced skill than phonetically parsing words.

Kids also learn at different rates. My son wasn't reading pretty much at all through the first third or so of first grade. The teacher was pushing us to have him evaluated for ADHD, but we dug in our heels and followed the advice of our pediatrician who said just let him develop. Sure enough, his reading took off like a rocket when he was good and ready, and now, in the third grade, he's reading at at least a 6th grade level.

Kindergarten has become way too much of a hot house, in my opinion. Largely it's due to the pressure to maintain standardized test scores--not because it's any better for the kids.
Yeah... but. It's that she's seemingly regressing in a lot of areas, not just one or two. I didn't go into it in the letter, but her social skills have slipped a bit as well.
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  #21  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:09 PM
eleanorigby eleanorigby is offline
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Overall, I think it's a good letter, but what happened to parent/teacher conferences? At the beginning of every school year, I introduce myself to every teacher my kids have. That way, if something occurs, we're not meeting as strangers and I get a chance to size up the teacher for myself. Just some unasked for advice for next year.

I would cut the money and the whole tax thing-not important here.

I'd also get your daughter's eyes checked, and perhaps a pediatrician visit.

Has it ever occurred to you that she may not be a phonetics learner? Phonics confused the hell out of me as a kid. #2 son struggled and struggled in reading all through elementary school. The second week of 4th grade, when I introduced myself to the teacher, she said--it's obvious he is not a phonics learner; he is sight reader. He has rocketed up 3 whole grade levels in reading since that day (he's in 4th grade now. He started 4th grade barely at grade level in reading-now he's at 7-8th grade). joy!



It also sounds to me like your daughter had some good pre-reading skills, but that she memorized some words or even books (good pre-reading). Out of context, she is lost--because she wasn't really reading in the first place. Same with math--she may have known some of the problems, but did she truly understand addition conceptually? I don't know. I also think she sounds like a healthy, happy Kindergartner and that you could relax a bit. If you are truly deeply concerned, talk to the teacher; follow up by letter if the talk is not successful and perhaps change schools--next year. School is a lot more than phonics and addition-where is she socially? Maturity level? Does she have school friends? Does she do well with other adults? There's a lot to consider here.

Last edited by eleanorigby; 11-28-2007 at 09:11 PM..
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  #22  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:10 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen
Quick question-

Why start with a letter? Why not schedule a conference to discuss your concerns and ask to see your daughter's in class work, compare with earlier school/home papers etc.

Sometimes letters can be seen as aggressive or confrontational, as if you're trying to document some perceived offense.

I'm speaking directly from my own experiences- when my now 7th grade son was in Kindergarten we did the letter to teacher route and found that we ended up having much better interactions by starting face-to-face.
Eh, it's just how we are. As for myself, I'm better at expressing myself through writing than I am verbally and, imho, having some foreknowledge of what we want to meet would be less "confrontational" than a face-to-face meeting where the topics are unknown and the teacher would have to "defend" herself on the fly.

In other words, were I in the teachers shoes, I would prefer a letter prior to the meeting rather than going in w/o any prior indication of what the meeting is about.
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  #23  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:13 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freckafree
I think your concerns are completely valid, and your idea of sending a letter in advance of a meeting so the teacher won't be blindsided is well-intentioned. But I've learned the hard way that if the tone of the discourse puts the teacher on the defensive, you will have an uphill battle ahead of you.

I would reduce the body of the letter to bullet points and save the detail for the face-to-face meeting. I would take out the parts about TV and tuition. Regardless of whether the teacher believes TV is a wonderful teaching medium or is lazy, she is not likely to change her classroom methods because your opinion differs from hers. This is a topic I would reserve for the meeting with her.

Kindergarten -- you feel like your kid's intellectual foundations are being forged here, and it's scary as hell if you think your kid is not in good hands. Ivylass's suggestion of getting some additional evaluation is excellent.
That's good advice about the bullet points.

But the thing about TV - it REALLY bugs me. It's 1-hours worth of TV watching a day, which seems to be excessive. And again: I have little faith in the efficacy of TV as a teaching tool (as far as facts and knowledge go) and the idea of using TV to teach a love of literacy is bizarre at best.

Again: imho.
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  #24  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:15 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan
OK, once again, as in previous threads about noisy neighbours, or trespassing neighbours, I''m perplexed as to why -- seemingly only in the US -- you would prefer to begin dialog with a FUCKING LETTER.

Go and speak to the damned teacher already!
We have spoken to her about a couple of issues, especially the phonetics/whole language thing. The teachers take is that she prefers a whole-language emphasized approach, which is seemingly not doing my daughter any favors. She can read "Cat" but not "Mat".

We also just learned about the TV this past week - my daughter, in all her talking about school, never thought to bring it up (and we never thought to ask, directly "Sophie, do you watch TV in class?").

I like letters for reasons stated above. I have no idea what my nationality has to do with my communication preferences.

Last edited by JohnT; 11-28-2007 at 09:18 PM..
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  #25  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:19 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
Eh, it's just how we are. As for myself, I'm better at expressing myself through writing than I am verbally and, imho, having some foreknowledge of what we want to meet would be less "confrontational" than a face-to-face meeting where the topics are unknown and the teacher would have to "defend" herself on the fly.

In other words, were I in the teachers shoes, I would prefer a letter prior to the meeting rather than going in w/o any prior indication of what the meeting is about.
No. No. No!

You compose letters to large, faceless institutions in which you have no personal contact. This is your kid's teacher! Do not start this dialog with an accusational letter. Go and speak with the teacher. Plain and simple.

Edit: Just noticed your reply above John. I'm not trying to be a prick, really, but simple conversations are much more effective than formal accusational letters. And besides, television can be very educational. And besides, you're being way too over-analytic on all of this: she's in kindergarten.

Last edited by Leaffan; 11-28-2007 at 09:23 PM..
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  #26  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:21 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eleanorigby
Overall, I think it's a good letter, but what happened to parent/teacher conferences? At the beginning of every school year, I introduce myself to every teacher my kids have. That way, if something occurs, we're not meeting as strangers and I get a chance to size up the teacher for myself. Just some unasked for advice for next year.

I would cut the money and the whole tax thing-not important here.

I'd also get your daughter's eyes checked, and perhaps a pediatrician visit.

Has it ever occurred to you that she may not be a phonetics learner? Phonics confused the hell out of me as a kid. #2 son struggled and struggled in reading all through elementary school. The second week of 4th grade, when I introduced myself to the teacher, she said--it's obvious he is not a phonics learner; he is sight reader. He has rocketed up 3 whole grade levels in reading since that day (he's in 4th grade now. He started 4th grade barely at grade level in reading-now he's at 7-8th grade). joy!

It also sounds to me like your daughter had some good pre-reading skills, but that she memorized some words or even books (good pre-reading). Out of context, she is lost--because she wasn't really reading in the first place. Same with math--she may have known some of the problems, but did she truly understand addition conceptually? I don't know. I also think she sounds like a healthy, happy Kindergartner and that you could relax a bit. If you are truly deeply concerned, talk to the teacher; follow up by letter if the talk is not successful and perhaps change schools--next year. School is a lot more than phonics and addition-where is she socially? Maturity level? Does she have school friends? Does she do well with other adults? There's a lot to consider here.
We've actually started some phonics-based instruction this past week and she's doing quite well with it.

She does have friends, but being an only child, tends to prefer the company of older kids (who tend to love her back).
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  #27  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:28 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan
No. No. No!

You compose letters to large, faceless institutions in which you have no personal contact. This is your kid's teacher! Do not start this dialog with an accusational letter. Go and speak with the teacher. Plain and simple.
So you would prefer that I approach this in a manner to which I'm uncomfortable and the teacher is unawares of what is going to be discussed prior to the meeting?

Because, here's what would happen. We would have a meeting in which I would still bring typed notes, complete with bullet-points, because that's how I best remember and do things. A "this is my agenda" kind of thing.

On the teachers side, wouldn't that be more discomforting than a "You've read my letter, let's discuss what's in it" meeting? If it were me, I'd probably freak out a little bit - "What the hell is all that? This guy brought a two-page agenda to a parents-teacher meeting? I would've liked to have known what this was all about prior to this meeting so I could have prepared myself!"

Last edited by JohnT; 11-28-2007 at 09:31 PM..
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  #28  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:31 PM
Cat Fight Cat Fight is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
She does have friends, but being an only child, tends to prefer the company of older kids (who tend to love her back).
You might want to ask the teacher about this, either in the letter or in person. If the girl is struggling, it could have way more to do with a bully than a television.
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  #29  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:35 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Fight
You might want to ask the teacher about this, either in the letter or in person. If the girl is struggling, it could have way more to do with a bully than a television.
She had a bully that she complained about. We told her to ignore the child, that she was merely seeking a negative response from Sophie so she could feel better about herself.

So Sophie stopped talking about the bully a few days later... when we asked about the bully, Sophie said that she was "being mean" once and that Sophie replied "Go away - you bore me." (That was Dad's advice. Mom was of the "try to be her friend" type of advice).

To which the bully went away and stopped bothering her. Whether she selected new targets... I don't know. But it's no longer a problem to my daughter.

Last edited by JohnT; 11-28-2007 at 09:36 PM..
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  #30  
Old 11-28-2007, 09:58 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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Originally Posted by JohnT
So you would prefer that I approach this in a manner to which I'm uncomfortable and the teacher is unawares of what is going to be discussed prior to the meeting?

Because, here's what would happen. We would have a meeting in which I would still bring typed notes, complete with bullet-points, because that's how I best remember and do things. A "this is my agenda" kind of thing.

On the teachers side, wouldn't that be more discomforting than a "You've read my letter, let's discuss what's in it" meeting? If it were me, I'd probably freak out a little bit - "What the hell is all that? This guy brought a two-page agenda to a parents-teacher meeting? I would've liked to have known what this was all about prior to this meeting so I could have prepared myself!"
Yes. Yes, that's what I'm suggesting. Why should any of this be the over-the-top-dramatical play that you're anticipating? It's a kindergarten teacher! Walk in, and talk to her! She's a human being with feelings and opinions too. For some reason I think you perceive her as an authority figure and have a hard time communicating verbally what your feelings and expectations are. Listen, if I got your letter, I'd be offended, and I'd think you were a pompous jerk.

I'm not calling you that! But if I were the teacher you would really piss me off by sending such a condescendingly accusational letter without coming in and talking to me first.

She's a human being, and deserves to be confronted face-to-face. And again, you're overplaying this thing way too much for a kid in kindergarten. I mean really.

Last edited by Leaffan; 11-28-2007 at 10:00 PM..
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  #31  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:00 PM
Moirai Moirai is offline
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Letter and number reversals are more common than you think at this age. They will almost always clear by grade 1 or 2. That was the advice of our kinder teacher, and it proved to be correct. It's not bad teaching, and it's probably not dyslexia- it's just an age thing and developmentally, it should clear up.

The "guessing instead of sounding out or adding numbers" thing also sounds age-based and not too worrisome. Obviously, if you are very concerned you could start running exercises at home to supplement her school work, and see if it improves. Again, it's most likely something that she will simply grow out of.

YMMV, as always. Simply my experience with my 5.5 & 8 year olds.
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  #32  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:15 PM
MoodIndigo1 MoodIndigo1 is offline
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I agree with Leaffan about this one, JohnT. I'm a retired teacher, and I would have much preferred to have parents ask for a meeting about some problems their daughter was experiencing rather than face the parents after such a letter.

When you see her, ask her first of all to tell you how she sees your daughter's progress in class. This will feel more like the opening of a dialogue than an inquisition.

Yes, and what EJsGirl wrote.
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  #33  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:20 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Not to dismiss your concerns at all, but be assured that sometimes kids regress as they conquer new skills, or relearn skills in a new context.

As an only child she maybe adjusting to the classroom environment (especially if she didn't go to 5 day a week preschool). She maybe learning social skills that are new to her.

My daughter (4th grade now) was reading books at three and writing extensively by five. In kindergarten she started learning new skills and was under different pressures and her behavior changed for a while.

Your daughter may feel academic pressure to perform at some level as well (that happened to our son in kindergarten; such is the life of kids of academics...).

In my experience, the kindergarten curricula emphasizes sight words over phonics (learning it, the, like, was etc) over decoding skills (which is mat, cat, bat- she would first have to learn the -at chunk and then generalize the initial sound etc).

Perhaps at your meeting with the teacher you can get a copy of the curriculum for kindergarten and see what the expectations are.

Regarding the letter vs meeting: Clearly you should choose to do what you feel is best- but you aren't the only player in this dynamic. You are trying to get info, influence and get help from her teacher and would want her to be as cooperative and non-defensive as possible. Letters like yours (which I wrote many of when my oldest started school) tend to put teachers off.

Perhaps a short note outling the basic issues but save the details for the meeting would be a compromise.

Also- TV in the classroom- that is horrid.

I've been down your road and hope our experience may be helpful.
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  #34  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:45 PM
Q.N. Jones Q.N. Jones is offline
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I agree, you shouldn't send that letter. Your concerns about your daughter are mixed up with commentary about the curriculum, your politics, your beliefs about learning, and pointed references to money (which will make her think you're a jerk).

You should go in and talk to the teacher face-to-face about Sophie's regressions. They could be normal. They could be due to the schoolwork. Or they could be due to a problem with Sophie. Getting a letter like this will make her defensive, though, because it strongly indicates that you have already decided to blame the school without considering other possibilities. You will not have a good meeting with the teacher if you send this.

Any concerns you have about the curriculum, teaching methods, etc. should be saved for people who actually have the power to change those things. I doubt the teacher is in control of those things, so confronting her over them will only make her feel embattled and annoyed with you. Who actually develops the curriculum for kindergarten? Write them a letter about your views on TV, phonics, etc.

You also seem to have a very rigid idea about how people learn--that they can't learn from TV, must learn from books, and must have 100% retention of the material presented after one exposure. First, the "experiments" you have performed are not at all scientific, and are therefore meaningless in determining the efficacy of TV as a teaching tool. Second, are you not aware that it is generally accepted (as a result of scientific research and educational observation) that there are at least three or four different "learning styles," and that while some people learn better from visual materials, others learn better from listening, while others learn better from physical interaction, etc.? In other words, some people will learn well from TV, and others not. Third, are you aware that research into the brain and memory tells us that it is physically impossible to read a book or watch a TV program once and retain every fact therein?

I think your preconceptions are getting in the way of discovering what is actually going on with your daughter.
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  #35  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:51 PM
Caricci Caricci is offline
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I have to go with Leafan on this one. If you write a note at all, write one requesting a meeting. The money thing is a non-issue. If you want to pay for school that's your business. Nobody is twisting your arm - certainly not the teacher.

I am of two opinions on this one: many of us send our kids off to kindergarten thinking we have little geniuses only to find that they regress because of the change of environment and all the stressors that come with it. You don't need a bully or a mean teacher to be stressed about something new like this. Also, being taught simple words and number facts at home is not the same as learning them in school. We may like to think that our little ones know these things when they really know them only in the specific setting of discussing them with mom or dad.

On the other hand, it does sound like she's not getting it and in a way that has nothing to do with the teacher. But, then again, in my day we didn't even try to read till first grade. I have a third grader so I know times have changed, but it's not like my little Einstein did much reading in kindergarten.

BTW, I think occasional TV in the classroom is great. Daily, not so much. I am 44 years old and watched TV in the classroom in elementary school on occasion. It's not a new idea.

If you feel you must put something in writing, put a summary of your meeting with the teacher in writing in a way such as this:

Dear Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher,

Thank you for meeting with my wife and me on 12/3/07 to discuss Sophia's progress . I appreciated learning that she does, in fact, sound out words in class, with an above average success rate. I was concerned to know that she does not seem to enjoy numbers and tends to rush through any work in which she must count. It was most gratifying to learn that she is on par with about half the children in the class. However, I can not deny that her academic skills seemed sharper a year ago. We will be having her vision checked. If this does not yield a possible answer, we shall pursue further screening. And, as discussed, we would like to be in regular contact with your about Sophia's progress as well.

CC to principal and superintendent.

That way you have a record.

Last edited by Caricci; 11-28-2007 at 10:52 PM..
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  #36  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:51 PM
RickJay RickJay is online now
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Irrespective of the mechanics of regression, the letter is FAR too long. It's probably four times longer than it needs to be. You need to say you're concerned about her regression, have doubts about the method of using TV, and ask for an interview. That should not take that long to say.

A formal business letter, and that's what this is, that leads into a meeting should:

1. State what you want,
2. State the concerns that make you want it, while leaving the bulk of the details to be talked to,
3. Establish the action to be taken next, and
4. Omit anything else.

I'd also point out that "reading and literacy" are not "anti-TV," unless you are actually reading books called "TV Is Bad" or some such thing. Hey, you're being picky, expect a picky parsing of your letter.

I'd generally caution against taking an aggressive, challenging tone. Your letter states as complaints a number of claims that are in fact debatable. English is not entirely phonetic, but in fact makes great use of symbology (punctuation, you see) and non-phonetic spellings; your claim that TV is useless as an instructional tool is hotly disputed; your position on whole language instruction does not appear to be informed by much beyond your own personal experiences.

You may be right on on those things, of course; I don't know. But that's my point; you don't necessarily know, either. But I would suggest that asking questions and gathering more information is probably a better initial approach before making up your mind. A professional educator may, in fact, know some things you do not, and commencing the discussion by assuming they are in error is probably not the most productive approach possible.

State your concern, state your desired next step. I would rewrite your letter as follows:

Quote:
Dear Teacher:

God’s blessings be with you and your family this Christmas season.

We have a number of concerns regarding Sophia’s education and intellectual growth, which we would like to discuss with you in person. As she has progressed throughout the past half-year at (School Name,) we are troubled by a number of areas in which she has seemingly regressed, such as basic addition, a propensity to write letters and numbers backwards which she had not previously demonstrated, and a lack of progress in her ability to phonetically work out words.

As we still have great confidence in (School Name) to provide Sophie with an excellent education, we believe it will be possible to address these concerns with a personal interview, which we hope to arrange at our earliest mutual convenience.

Feel free to call us at the above number to set up a time and date for our meeting.

Thank you,

JohnT and Mrs JohnT

Last edited by RickJay; 11-28-2007 at 10:56 PM..
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  #37  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:54 PM
Alex_Dubinsky Alex_Dubinsky is offline
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Great intro! Not so great everything else.

For one, cut down the whole latter part about how you would teach kindergarten if you were teaching kindergarten. It makes you sound like a douche, especially since you never say something like "this is better because." I know you did this probably out of concern for style, but the only thing you say is "I think this is good, my husband thinks that" implying that whatever you have a preference for is what she should be doing. Taken literally, it's seriously douchy. Especially when you explain that the reason your husband likes phonics is that's the way people taught him. Real cool, unbiased reasoning there.

Anyway, also, don't forget that a possible reason your child looks like she's stupid is that she just doesn't want to deal with you trying to teach her. Or that you make her so nervous she forgets everything.
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  #38  
Old 11-28-2007, 10:55 PM
Caricci Caricci is offline
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Originally Posted by Alex_Dubinsky
Great intro! Not so great everything else.

For one, cut down the whole latter part about how you would teach kindergarten if you were teaching kindergarten. It makes you sound like a douche, especially since you never say something like "this is better because." I know you did this probably out of concern for style, but the only thing you say is "I think this is good, my husband thinks that" implying that whatever you have a preference for is what she should be doing. Taken literally, it's seriously douchy. Especially when you explain that the reason your husband likes phonics is that's the way people taught him. Real cool, unbiased reasoning there.

Anyway, also, don't forget that a possible reason your child looks like she's stupid is that she just doesn't want to deal with you trying to teach her. Or that you make her so nervous she forgets everything.

Take this post to heart.
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  #39  
Old 11-28-2007, 11:38 PM
CrankyAsAnOldMan CrankyAsAnOldMan is offline
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My first inclination would be to wonder if such regression is normal--and temporary. I certainly observed it in my son's infancy, and I noticed it (to a lesser degree) sometimes when he started school.

It sounds like your daughter was advanced for her age and ahead of many of her peers. Now perhaps she is focusing on other areas of growth, and while that happens she's "regressing" a bit back towards normal--but she might bounce right back given some time. I don't know if this is normal The teacher might.

Anyway, as for the letter.... to be honest, I'm not for it. You express concern about not sandbagging her at the conference, but I fear you might inadvertently spoil the atmosphere of the meeting. Even though you have written your letter carefully and politely, there is a fine line between seeming like an observant, involved parent and seeming like parents who are excessively worried about early achievement. It's hard to know how to avoid crossing that line, especially with a teacher you don't know well. The way the letter launches into it (and lays out your daughter's achievements before she entered the teacher's class), could come off as confrontational. Your examples were likely chosen to be specific and helpful, but they also could suggest you're the kind of hard-driving, hard-to-please parents who subject their child to regular intensive drills to monitor intellectual progress. I don't think it will work in your favor if the teacher concludes you're that kind of parent. Some of the other letter comes off as haughty, as well. You're criticizing methods before ever hearing from the teacher the pedagogical justifications as to why they may have been chosen. I think that's a bad move.

My advice is to go to the conference sans pre-emptive letter. Let the teacher share with you her observations about your daughter, and find some common ground. Then bring up these concerns when she asks if you have questions. I don't think you'll be sandbagging her, particularly if you have an open mind and present yourself as a loving, observant parent who wants the teacher's professional, experienced opinion. Perhaps the teacher will have a reassuring answer for you. If not, then I think that's the time to ask for a second meeting to address those issues specifically.

Last edited by CrankyAsAnOldMan; 11-28-2007 at 11:42 PM..
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  #40  
Old 11-29-2007, 12:30 AM
Hippy Hollow Hippy Hollow is offline
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Okay, former 4th grade teacher here - lifetime cert in PK-6, self-contained.

The sentiment and concern in the letter are valid but it is absolutely the wrong approach. As Leaffan has stated, your best bet is to talk to the teacher. She's a human being, and is going to be far more responsive if you schedule a meeting and express your concerns face to face. A letter written to someone whom you can access easily comes off as quite threatening. Especially if you copy others (principal, superintendent). In a teacher's mind, letters are how administrators and agencies discipline us. A couple of notes like that, and you'll find yourself the topic of lounge conversations...

If you are interested in partnering with the teacher in your child's education, take the time to converse face-to-face to those responsible for the process.

It's not uncommon for kids to seemingly regress when they're in a new environment - not dismissing your concerns, but just letting you know that there isn't something necessarily wrong. IvoryTowerDenizen's and Q.N. Jones' posts make the points I would make.

Is there a way you can spend a little time in the classroom or school? Starting the conversation with observations and inquiring how your child is doing, from the teacher's view, would be a much more productive way of pursuing the issue. I think your concern is commendable; it's the approach with which I have an issue.
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  #41  
Old 11-29-2007, 12:35 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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I respectfully submit that I think the tone of the letter is really condescending.
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  #42  
Old 11-29-2007, 12:59 AM
glee glee is offline
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I teach 11-18 year olds and have in particular been a tutor for many years, which has included phone calls and meetings with parents (some quite lengthy!).
N.B. I am in the UK, which may affect things.

As others have said, it is good when parents get involved. It is also not useful to mention money. My (private) school charges between $20,000 and $40,000 per year. I know this and don't need it mentioned, thank you.

Here are my views, interspersed with your letter:


Dear Teacher:

God’s blessings be with you and your family this Christmas season.

I am an atheist, so this is not helpful.

We wanted to write in regards to a number of concerns we had with Sophia’s education and intellectual growth. As she has progressed throughout the past half-year at School Name, we are troubled by a number of areas in which she has seemingly regressed. It is our fervent hope and desire that we will be able to address these concerns on a personal basis, both in talking to you and improving our abilities as parents. However, we have no desire to “sandbag” you with a list of concerns without your being aware of them prior to our meeting – hence this letter.

'Fervent' is a worrying word. Every parent is keen (and so are we teachers), but some are fanatical. As Rickjay says, keep it business-like.
Also the whole paragraph is far too long anyway. "We'd like to meet you to discuss Sophia's progress."


The first, and in our opinion, least important, is her regression in her math skills. Sophia entered school with a minor facility in addition: 2+2=4, 3+4=7, nothing more complicated than that: I do not believe that she understood the concept of subtraction, but she did understand addition.

However, this small ability is no longer evident in her. When asked an addition question she has taken up the habit of guessing along the number range: “2? 3? 4?...” every single time. This is puzzling, but we are aware that children can and will display signs of regression, where an ability once in display is no longer evident. And if this were the only issue in which we’ve noticed signs of regression, we would not be writing this letter.

A more troubling sign of regression is her newly-displayed habit of writing many of her letters and numbers backwards. From toddlerhood-onward, Sophia has always loved to draw and we have made it a priority that, since she does enjoy drawing, she should learn to “draw” (print) her letters and numbers (as well as properly hold a pencil), skills that she has worked on since the age of four and fully possessed in her fifth year.

Unfortunately, we have noticed an increasing likelihood in the past 4 months of her writing her letters and numbers backwards, an apparent display of dyslexia in a child that never shown a tendency towards this problem. As you can imagine, this is particularly vexing as we have believed and known that Sophia entered Kindergarten already possessing the skills and ability needed to begin writing out actual words.

However, the most disturbing sign of a lack of educational progress on Sophia’s part is her complete inability to phonetically parse out words. She obviously recognizes some words, but if you complement them with closely-spelled homonyms, she will literally guess what the following words are. For example, she recognizes the word “Cat”. However, if you give her the following list:

1. Cat
2. Mat
3. Hat
4. Sat
5. Bat

She will only get the first word right, while guessing on the others. Her guesses always starts with the first letter (“Maybe?” “Maebh?” (a friend of hers) “Mackie?” (her puppy)), but come nowhere close to being correct.

This detailed information would be much better in a meeting. Summarise it: "We are concerned about her progress in Maths and Phonetics."

This is especially bothersome to her father: Having been taught phonetically to read at the age of four, he is of the opinion that Sophia should at least be able to sound out this list of words and is upset not merely by her inability to do so but that she shows no understanding of the basic concept of sounding out. He has never been a proponent of the whole-language school of reading, believing that many of the concepts involved are more suited towards older children (such as deriving the meaning of a word from its use in a sentence). As English is based upon a phonetic alphabet, he feels that teaching children the phonetic basis of letters and letter-groupings is a far superior method of teaching basic reading skills, even with the number of exceptions (“bough” vs. “tough”) that exist in this language.

Sheesh. I realise you are keen to support your child, but this comes across as a fanatical father who knows far better than the professionals how to teach.
Is Sophia's mother bothered? Why do you refer to yourself in the third person? "He has never been a proponent of the whole-language school of reading" - and doesn't know how to write a summary either !
I'd leave the whole of this out.


Our frustration and concern is not helped by the apparent daily use of a TV show in teaching literacy, the “Super Why!” programs available from PBS. To make sure there is no doubt to our position in this matter: We do not believe in the efficacy of Television to teach intellectual concepts, especially something as anti-TV as reading and literacy. The dichotomy between what is being taught and the methods used to teach it frankly boggles the mind: it would be akin to teaching music by mostly reading composer biographies. Television is more effective in teaching children social mores, “what is cool”, etc… but when it comes to actual learning, well, TV is useless.

Well you certainly have a strong view on TV! I could mention the UK Open University, where students can get a complete degree by watching course material on TV, but this whole paragraph suggest that nothing will change your mind.
If you wrote this to me, I would be thinking 'Sounds like only home-schooling will be good enough for this guy'.
Leave this out.


As you know, the financial commitment to School Name is not inconsiderable – at least $700/month when extra-tuition activities and fees such as BAC, food, uniforms, fund-raising, and other items are added. We have made this sacrifice in the belief that not only does Sophia benefit morally from being in a parochial school, but also that the quality of education received is higher. We are beginning to question whether we are receiving value for our money – after all, we are paying for two schools: School Name and our local public school (through our property taxes).

Leave this out too.
It suggests that the school is poor value, that you are martyrs, that only certain schools instill morals and that the school is responsible for local education policy.


We would like to meet with you later this month, at a time of your choosing, so we can discuss these issues and what we can do to both assist our daughter in her education and ensure that the quality of education received during her time in school is the best possible. Feel free to call us at the above number to set up a time and date for our meeting.

"We would like to meet with you. Please feel free to contact us by phone, e-mail or lettere."

Look, I realise you want the best for your child. But if a lengthy diatribe is the first thing your kid's teacher gets, it sets the wrong tone.

Good luck.
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  #43  
Old 11-29-2007, 01:04 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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glee summarized everything rather nicely, I think.

On a related note, glee, you have much to teach me about brevity!
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  #44  
Old 11-29-2007, 01:04 AM
Vihaga Vihaga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
1. Are we expecting too much? Both from Sophie and the school?
2. Does the letter come on too strong?
3. Does it sound like we're getting our money's worth?
IMHO,
1) Probably, but not certainly. It's kindergarten; I always thought its major purpose was to teach kids how to be in school, rather than to teach them actual things. The adjustment could be bigger than you realize, and it could be that learning how to take turns, stand in line, ask questions properly, interact with a classroom full of kids, and spend the day at school is taking more of Sophie's mental energy than you think.
2) Yes. Oh, yes. If I were your daughter's teacher, I would dread meeting with you, because the letter makes you sound like a condescending jerk who thinks his daughter's teachers are somehow unworthy. The formal tone of the letter sounds like something best reserved for the point at which you actually have decided to initiate legal action against the person to whom you are sending it.
3) There's no way to tell from your letter.

I'd write something short, sweet, and to the point (see Rickjay's post). If the teacher thinks you're working against her before you even meet with her, it's going to be very difficult to establish meaningful communication or get her cooperation in helping your daughter, if she does end up needing help.
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  #45  
Old 11-29-2007, 01:15 AM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th
glee summarized everything rather nicely, I think.
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th
On a related note, glee, you have much to teach me about brevity!
No I don't.
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  #46  
Old 11-29-2007, 01:20 AM
askeptic askeptic is offline
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glee: Great job. I agree with everything you said.
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  #47  
Old 11-29-2007, 02:48 AM
Mesquite-oh Mesquite-oh is offline
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Put me in the "don't send the letter" camp. I understand that you feel that you communicate better through writing, but writing things out has it's downside when you are trying to be diplomatic and build a cooperative relationship with the teacher in the best interest of your kiddo (if that is what you are after rather than winning some sort of "I know the best educational method" debate). The tone of the letter, specifically the second half, comes off kinda hard. You may not have meant it that way, but since it is just words on paper, you can't always communicate tone like you could in a face to face meeting. By all means, if you want to send the letter, send it (you are the parent!), but just be aware of the possible unintended consequences.

I have been doing individual and group therapy with kids and teens for years, dealing with some complex topics. It has been my experience that kids can learn in a variety of ways. If a handful of the kids get it thoroughly through books, another handful might get it through a game, another handful might get it through roleplay practice and drills, another might understand after watching a movie, some might get it after watching a live demonstration, etc. It might take several approaches before a kid goes "Oh, now I get it!" It is not alway linear either- environment and other situations could make a huge difference on their present progress point.

Last edited by Mesquite-oh; 11-29-2007 at 02:49 AM..
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  #48  
Old 11-29-2007, 03:29 AM
TripleTee TripleTee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
She had a bully that she complained about. We told her to ignore the child, that she was merely seeking a negative response from Sophie so she could feel better about herself.

So Sophie stopped talking about the bully a few days later... when we asked about the bully, Sophie said that she was "being mean" once and that Sophie replied "Go away - you bore me." (That was Dad's advice. Mom was of the "try to be her friend" type of advice).

To which the bully went away and stopped bothering her. Whether she selected new targets... I don't know. But it's no longer a problem to my daughter.
I haven't finished reading the rest of the thread, but I wanted to comment on this first. I can speak as someone who was bullied constantly from the time I was in elementary school until I graduated high school. Just because your child says the bullying has stopped, does not mean that it has, in fact, stopped. I told my parents about it and they said the same things to me that you said to your child (ignore them, show it doesn't bother you, be their friend, laugh it off, etc. etc.) and it NEVER went away. However, I still told my parents that it had stopped, even when it had not. I wanted to please them, after all. You are in a constant battle at school when you are the victim of bullies; the last thing you want or need is more stress at home. And having to explain to my parents in detail the situations I was going through on a daily basis at school would have amounted to further stress.

I would not automatically dismiss the bullying as a possible cause. It was the PRIMARY cause of my underachievement in school. I could think of nothing else when I was in school besides the constant stress of being bullied and picked on. I hated school. To this day I do not have any fond memories of school to speak of, and it was more than 20 years ago.

It could certainly be a factor with your child. I would be sure to absolutely, positively rule it out using other sources besides just your child's word.
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  #49  
Old 11-29-2007, 04:33 AM
Marienee Marienee is offline
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Conversations like this one make me feel just like I did the first time one of my kids tried to climb a tree, or first started to walk, or screwed up his courage to tell me he thought I was wrong about something and argue the point. So proud and apprehensive and admiring all at the same time. Good for you for being proactive, but, honey, careful, you need to watch out for that.....

The process of becoming a parent to a school aged child is hard for a lot of people. And I think mostly people don't know what is going on most of the time while it's happening and only figure it out later (if they are lucky). This is especially true when the child in question is an oldest child it seems to me.

If this is your idea of how to maintain a relationship with your child's school and work together, I gently suggest you might want to rethink it. Your child's Kindy teacher would be justified in giving you a failing grade in "plays well with others".

I would start by volunteering in the school or in the child's classroom. This gives you a marvelous opportunity to see how the classroom functions and how your child functions within it and will give you volumes of information which will allow you to support your child's education at home by extending it into the home naturally. It will also make clear to you what problems she is having, if any, in ways that all the parent teacher conferences int he world would not do.

If this is not possible, I would ask the teacher for a meeting -- but you must go into the meeting with more questions than answers on your list of things to do. Then just talk about it. You will find that your concerns and her concerns are different, and this is because parenting is different from teaching. You will almost certainly find out that what your child does at school is not the same as what she does at home.

In general, regression appears in a lot of contexts -- if a young child is taught to do sums and is then presented with manipulables to do sums or vice versa, or is otherwise asked to apply skills acquired one way in another context. Performing is not the same as mastery. And what is obviously the same thing to an adult is not necessarily the same thing to a child. The things you mention might be worrisome and might not, depending on what else is going on.

Last edited by Marienee; 11-29-2007 at 04:35 AM..
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Old 11-29-2007, 05:19 AM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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You can put me in the "don't send a letter, request a meeting" camp, too, letting her know briefly what you wish to talk about.

Most importantly, though, approach the meeting with the genuine attitude that you wish to co-operate with the teacher and with the school. As RickJay's post demonstrates, there's no way you're going to settle all of the big questions about teaching methods. What you need to do is to find common ground with the teacher, so that you are able to reinforce what your daughter is doing in school, and so that the teacher has a greater understanding of what is happening within the family.

Also, in the interests of making clear your intentions of co-operation, I'd save any consultation with medical professionals until after the meeting. You can bring up the writing-letters-backwards issue, and ask the teacher whether in her opinion it might be helpful to get a medical opinion. Bear in mind that some (but by no means all!) experienced teachers are as good at diagnosing conditions such as dyslexia as anybody. And that many get weary of the "OMG my child can't read as well as we think they should, they must be dyslexic!!1!" attitude which some parents have, and therefore the specific albeit tentative use of the term in your letter, or in a conversation, is likely to produce a negative reaction. (And, FWIW, I went through phases of inverting letters, of reversing syllables in a word, and all sorts of things, for several years, and then it all just disappeared without any specific help.)

Last edited by GorillaMan; 11-29-2007 at 05:21 AM..
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