3.22.2016

Struggles.


We all want the absolute best for our children, we want them to learn and grown, struggle, but not too much. We want to protect them and guide them into becoming the very best people they can be. Unfortunately babies don't come with a 'how to' manual and with Madison being our oldest, she's been the learning curve for Aiden. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to her education there is so much I didn't understand. I though Kinder was still story and nap time for half the day until I signed her up for school and found out differently. 

When she started to get back graded tests in first grade I was a little surprised, then she started to come home with failing tests scores on her math papers. When I asked about them I was told they are just practice grades getting them ready for 2nd grade, preparing them. At her parent teacher conference we were assured that they knew she was struggling a bit, but it was the beginning of the year and they were still working on learning the concepts in class. We saw progress reports from the i-Station testing - which makes absolutely NO sense to me. 


The year progressed and still her math tests were coming back with failing grades. I asked around to other parents for advice - some recommended apps for the iPad, other flash cards and workbooks, and others told me not to worry too much she was only in 1st grade. We tried apps, we got her a Math Slam game, we bought work books and practiced in those. I still did not feel she was progressing, so I finally decided to take her to be evaluated by an outside tutoring center. 


What I learned in that hour was very upsetting and distressing - Madison was still not comprehending things she should've learned in Kinder. She was struggling with the basics, everything she has been learning this year has been so hard for her because she doesn't get the fundamentals. I'll be completely honest, I cried and felt that I was failing my child. My baby. I wasn't fighting hard enough to get her help she needed, all those failing math tests were a reflection of my parenting. 

We live in a small community and we knew going into 1st grade that the school was a failing school, but last summer I called and talked to the director of curriculum for the district and was reassured that they had 'cleaned' house and steps were in place to bring the school back up to passing. As someone who is not familiar with school systems or the teaching world I struggle to know when I should be concerned or if they are indeed taking the right steps. We took a chance and stayed with her local school and now I'm regretting that decision. 

I've met with her teacher, who is very sweet and of course wants the best for Madison, but when I learned that she's been getting extra help with math for pretty much the entire year and is still struggling this much I have to ask - WHY hasn't more been done? WHY did it take me going outside the school? WHY has she not been tested further? 

I've learned a lot of lessons through this and looking back I wish I had pushed harder for more help for her. I shouldn't have assumed the school would take the necessary steps if she wasn't understanding the material. I wish there had been more communication weekly between her teacher and I on what she wasn't getting. 

Right now we are continuing with twice weekly tutoring outside the school and we will be meeting with the principals and diagnostician to see how we can further help her. Oliver and I have even discussed moving sooner rather than later to get her into a better school system, but I guess I need to see what plan of action her school can provide us. 



Sharing this was hard for me, but my hope is that other Mom's who are new to school age children and may be going through something similar will not feel so alone. When we go through difficulties in life - getting pregnant, weight loss, parenting - it's hard to not feel like everyone else has their shit together. You see so much of people's lives online, the highlight reel if you will, but I always feel better sharing my struggles and learning from others experiences. 

94 comments :

  1. Megan, I wrote almost the same blog today. My son is in Kinder and has been struggling SO bad. They said they wont test him until 2nd grade. I don't get it, why not test him now and get him learning the correct way that he understands instead of backpeddling later on. We are currently working on getting him into a charter school, its lottery based though so we have to wait until April 6th to find out if he is chosen. It is a struggle and his school work and grades have left me in tears many nights. Thank you for posting this... I relate, you are NOT alone!!! HUGS!!! Jordan Flowers

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    1. Keep pushing them. Having his teacher request it will move things along quicker. They will test in Kinder, you just have to push them to. We did!

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    2. They often do not test in Kinder because the child has not yet been exposed to enough learning to show a big enough discrepancy. So, a child may be tested in Kinder and it show that they are behind, but not as far behind as needed to show a learning disability (more than 1.5 standard deviations below average) and the cold would then completely not qualify and it would be very unlikely that the district would be willing to retest in the future. So, many schools wait until 2nd grade so the child will in fact qualify for services (if there is a true disability). :)

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    3. They should rarely test in kindergarten. They wait until 2nd grade for developmental reasons. A child may struggle, but by the age of 7 be able to do what they couldn't before then. If you test every child who appears to have a learning disability before the age of 7, there would be far more labeled children who may not need it. Unfortunately, the state requires curriculum be taught that is sometimes developmentally inappropriate.

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    4. Yes! As a special education teacher, I can attest to the fact that it is VERY rare for a child to be tested before 2nd grade...and even then we like to wait until 3rd. That's not to say we just allow the child to keep falling further and further behind; many times they should placed through RTI (response to intervention), or the school's equivalent. This is a general education initiative to help those students who may be struggling get extra help at their level--with the ultimate goal being getting them up to grade level. If a student is not responding to those interventions, this is when it may be time to recommend testing. I'm so sorry to hear she's struggling and you've felt so "out of the loop." Be vigilant and demand communication from the school...I wish I had more parents like you!!

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  2. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing something that while it is difficult, as a GREAT Mother, you are seeking the best for your baby girl. You are a big inspiration, keep on keepin on. :)

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  3. You have no idea how much it helps to head that my child isn't the only one struggling. And he's only in Kindergarten!! Where did the days of learning to read, numbers, letters, and playing go! I have cried multiple times and have even talked about holding my son back for another year because we just don't think he's ready for 1st grade. It's a very tough decision.

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  4. My girl, 3rd grade, is struggling mightily in math and other areas. It is frustrating. I do feel they are pushing too hard in schools these days - I truly do. Yes, there are students that excel, but I am afraid too many others are just sort of kind of getting enough info to pass, the others are being left behind but yet, pushed forward. It has been suggested to have my daughter tested for ADHD (my son - age 14 - is borderline ADHA and on meds to help him concentrate at school), but I hate that this is the answer. Frustrated and sad for seeing her struggle - she cried when she brought home her report card last night.

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    1. My son is in 3rd grade as well and struggling. I feel much like you. Since when did school get so stressful!? Breaks my heart to see my son get so frustrated.

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  5. Wow! Same thing going on for my son! Our district changed the way Kinder is this year. He has 80 sight words he has to learn on top of Math and everything else! He is overwhelmed and I've spent many nights in tears feeling like I am failing him....such a struggle! Thanks for keeping it real! We are considering private school where he will get more one on one!

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  6. You don't know, what you don't know. When your child's teacher is telling you things are ok and that your child is adjusting how are you supposed to know otherwise. Shame on this teacher for not getting you involved sooner. Big hugs, this will all work out in the end.

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  7. Meg you are not alone.. I had to fight for my kids education for the last few years.. and finally he is getting the help he needed and we found out that he is dyslexic.. dont give up.

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  8. I'm going through the exact same thing with my kindergartener. He is "failing" even though isn't getting grades yet, but everything you just said is my fear for 1st next year. I am pushing to get testing and they just won't test him. I am beyond frustrated!!!

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  9. Kudos for sharing such a personal story. You are a great mom and working hard to have the best for your children! School can be so rough if you're not "getting it". I had to go to a tutor for reading most of elementary school. Thanks again for sharing!

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  10. Girl I know just how you feel. My daughter is in the 7th grade and she has always been ok with math until this year. This year the school placed her in advanced math. She has been drowning. I reached out to the school but they claim there was NOTHING they can do. In the beginning it was tears and fighting in my house every night. I don't understand they way they teach any longer so I struggle to help her. I had to just let it go this year. I had to just accept that no matter how hard she works or how much effort we put in to it she just was not going to be her usual A/B honor roll self. Which was very hard for me and her. :( It is very hard to be a parent but the fact that you are fighting for her is what makes you a great parent. Keep your head up and just keep doing what you can do!

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    1. As an Advanced Math teacher, it is complete nonsense that a school would tell you there is nothing they can do! I had a student join in October and drop back to the general group in February. In her case, I think she didn't put in as much effort as she could have, but it sounds like your daughter is trying and still struggling! Parents and students have the right to choose their education. Especially if she's struggling enough to interfere with her social-emotional health. I'm so sorry that's your experience!

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  11. So glad you shared. My son is only 4 now but we are facing the decision of moving as well because of the school district. Do not feel discouraged and think you are failing. You set such a great example for your babies and obviously want the best for both of them. We live and we learn, right? Twilight Sparkle will be just fine. She has you.

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  12. My daughter is in kindergarten this year. We put her through a vpk program at a daycare and quickly learned that was a mistake. We should have researched and put her in vpk at a more school based center. She came in to kindergarten knowing maybe 1/5th of what she should have. I feel so blessed we were accepted into a charter school this year (after 3 years of trying to get my 2nd grader in). They have been on top of doing everything to get my daughter to level. Do you have an charter options around you? I feel these schools tend to have a stronger group of teachers and administration and maybe she would thrive?

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  13. Not sure how your school system works, but in our area if a school is not "accredited" then no matter where you live, you can take your child out of that school and place them elsewhere.

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  14. Just a word of encouragement...research shows that the most literate and well-educated populations/countries do not begin formal education, especially reading instruction, until age 7, because it just isn't developmentally appropriate for most children. What federal mandates, especially the former No Child Left Behind, have forced on early childhood teachers should be a crime. Both of mine struggled in kindergarten and first grade and I am an educator and was RIGHT THERE watching them, helpless in many ways. If I had it to do over again, I would have held them back. With spring and summer birthdays, they are each the youngest kid in their grade of 150ish students. My son is still 14 and many of his friends are already 16. This puts kids in the "correct grade" at a huge disadvantage being compared to students that are older and more mature than they are (in their local classroom and on state/national tests). It all worked out for my two but we had a few hard years. Now they are in honors classes, amazing readers, and rocking their very full plates full of school, athletics, church activities, friends, etc. Just wanted to encourage you that just because M is struggling now doesn't mean she always will. And you really are a fantastic mama, doing many, many things right.

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  15. I'm a 1st grade teacher and I'm sad to say that the school will probably never be able to do enough to catch her up. There are so many rules to testing and not enough resources or time. Getting her outside tutoring was the best thing you could have done. Keep up with that.

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  16. The thing I've always loved so much about your blog is your honesty. And I feel so grateful that you shared this story. I am constantly saying as a new Mom "I have no idea what I'm doing". My kids are only 10 months old but I have no clue what they should know by now...there is SO much conflicting information out there. And I always flashforward mentally a bit to prepare myself. Because I know there will be struggles. Every kid has them. And it scares me but I know I'll do all I can to help them succeed.

    I think this post only exemplifies what a great parent you are. The only way you would be failing your daughter is if you knew she was struggling and did nothing about it. You seem very hands on and I know you will help Madison learn and be successful. Good luck to her and to you! I would love for you to keep us posted on her progress. We can all learn from each other!

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  17. You sooooo aren't alone. My oldest is an incredible reader and off the charts but math is another story. In 1st she had a rotten teacher (rotten person as well) and never let me know how she was struggling and barely making it through. The classroom was a horrible environment and I look back now and should have pulled her out but I didnt know what to do. Come 2nd grade she had an amazing teacher who recognized her issues and even though she technically "passed" the math evaluation- she suggested she get some extra help and its been a saving grace. Now in 3rd she struggles with math still and I find myself riding the teacher 'is she doing ok? homework is very hard. what can I do? she is crying and frustrated with homework" Her teacher is wonderful and assures me she is on level but I know better this time around. We will be moving out of our town either this summer or next to a better school system. Its heartbreaking to leave her friends and all that is familiar but I know things are only going to get harder and I don't find anyone as concerned as me. It stresses me daily as the struggle to sell and buy something in our price range (in CT) will be so hard. So as badly as you feel, dont. There are many of us in the same position- especially with our first children. You will find the right answers- ask lots of questions and follow your gut! Erin (thismommywrites)

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  18. Not that you asked for ideas or help, but I have a few thoughts to share. Children learn primarily through play until about 8 years old. And from what you've shared the last couple years, Madison is an active and imaginative little lady. Maybe engage her in math with some active play. It helped my nephew so so much.
    Also, you're a good mom. When we were kids (a million years ago), kinder was naps, and trading your milk for someone else's cookie. What's with the high expectations, these poor kiddos. Brush her up on the fundamentals, but don't stress. Once it clicks she'll be right on track.
    Is she young for her class? Or old? Just curious...

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  19. Megan you are definitely not the only one! I could of wrote your post, my daughter is the oldest one too and she's in 4th grade and I am just NOW pushing the school for answers because I'm tired of hearing "oh she will get it"...WHEN does that happen and even still the school can't tell me...I just get it's typical, she's not the only one. BLAH BLAH BLAH....my advice is to stay on top of it...when it comes to kids who need extra help it can easily turn into a money game of where the school can best spend their money and as the old saying goes...sometimes you have to be the squeaky wheel. You are a good mom because you are getting Madison help and you are staying on top of things! It's not easy, hugs mama just keep fighting for what Madison needs and trust your mommy instincts!

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  20. We had similar issues with my son in Kindergarten. He is on the autism spectrum, and does not struggle academically as much as he does emotionally/socially, but he still needed intervention at school in order to set him up for success. I was also told that students aren't "usually" tested to see if they qualify for services until 2nd grade. I had to fight to get him evaluated. Luckily, I won that fight and by the start of his 1st grade year, we finally had appropriate supports in place for him -- including an IEP. My best advice is to keep a paper trail of all of your interactions with teachers asking for help and if Madison's tutor feels it is appropriate/necessary, he/she can even provide documentation supporting your requests. As a parent, you have rights. Fight for what you need for Madison. I am not saying that you don't, I just mean that sometimes as parents we have to make a little noise. I have worked in education for 14 years. My best advice is if you don't get the response you want at the bottom, take it all the way to the top.

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  21. These are the posts I love the most. My son is only 4 but these are things I can look for and not be shocked by when the time comes. Thank you! We all live and learn.

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  22. Your the best Megan! I've been there too! Oh they have night time diapers and my child won't pee through them every single night! I find out 6 months later. Oye! You did the right things! Your a great Mom! Keep it up!

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  24. Hugs to you love! You are an amazing parent! My son is in Kinder this year and thankfully we have an amazing teacher but some of my friends haven't been so lucky....there isn't many parents out there that care anymore so we as parents that do have to stick together! Struggles happen, it is life! You are doing a wonderful job!!! XOXO

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  25. I would've done the same thing in assuming my child's teacher would inform me of any major difficulties. How frustrating, and a good lesson for us to advocate for our kids. Navigating the public school system is no joke!

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  26. Megan, thank you for always being real. It's so hard to admit your life isn't perfect, especially when you know you will get snarky comments about what you can do better. I applaud you for putting your baby first and for fighting for her. You are her biggest advocate. My son's kinder teacher told me "Always be the squeaky wheel". That is some of the best advice I've been given. Keep pushing for her.

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  27. My daughter struggle too. We've advanced to 3rd grade and everyday I wonder if I need to pull her and home school her. She still struggles so much even after all the testing and being put in the resource classroom. We too did not know the "right" way to go about things. Thankfully her Kindergarten teacher was able to help us as she too has a son with disabilities. If you ever have questions about pushing harder, I'm happy to chat with you about what has worked for us. Just remember you are her mom and YOU know what s best for her. So keep pushing. ::hugs:: -Jessyka

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  28. Megan can't you petition to move her to another school? Without having to move to a new neighborhood? Maybe that's what you were referring to, but it sounded like you're considering moving from your neighborhood. Either way - you're an incredible mom and I'm sure there are so many moms in your same boat! Keep your head up!!

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  29. My son is in first grade, as well, and in Kindergarten, he loved math and did so well with it. At the beginning of the year, his struggle was with reading and writing so we put him in a Saturday class and it helped so much with that. Now that he is on grade level with reading, his math has suffered and he is behind. We could tell he wasn't understanding but wasn't sure how much. His school work comes home weekly and we could just tell. Thankfully, I am understanding (at this point) how to do his math homework so I can help with it and his teacher agrees he understands but if he gets stumped, he gets frustrated and he just gives up. Now we are working on getting his self-confidence up with school so he doesn't get frustrated as quickly. When you and your spouse are working parents, it's so hard to find enough hours in the day to get it all done before your child melts down from exhaustion. I have to keep reminding myself that by being an active parent and caring about my child's education, I am doing the best I can and that eventually, everything will work out as long as you keep the focus. Good luck!

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  30. I love how honest your blog always is. I teach 1st and 2nd grade special education in CA and most of my job is modifying and developing new strategies to help kiddos who aren't getting it the "traditional" way. If you ever need more resources in what else you can try at home, I'd be more than willing to help! Keep being her biggest advocate and fighting for her :) She's lucky to have you as a mom!

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  31. Megan, I visit your blog and instagram almost daily but I never comment, this post resonated with me so I wanted to take the time to today. Don't beat yourself up, being a parent is HARD WORK! I have two kids, 10 & 7, my 10 year old has struggled the entire time he's been in elementary school, we held him back in 1st grade thinking he was just young (late July bday). That seemed to help for a couple years but now he's in 4th and has just been tested and diagnosed with ADD. It's been a struggle but we're hoping with medication we will see a change for the better. Now things are looking up for him and wouldn't ya know...OF COURSE my 7 yr old is struggling. He's behind in his reading and the teacher is closely watching him for signs of dyslexia so we may be going down that road with him. Just wanted you to know that you are doing great by getting her the help she needs. You are recognizing she needs help and you are doing something about it! I felt this same way with my 10 yr old, thinking we could have had him tested years ago for ADD but I ignored the signs. It's really hard to know if you are not in education, you have nothing to compare your kids to like the teachers and school educators do. We depend on them to tell us when our kids are struggling behind the rest of the class. I am certain her tutoring will help tremendously!
    PS I am in Wylie, hey neighbor!

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    1. Oh and I just want to say, 4th grade math....I'm out...Done...can't help ya kid. I need a tutor for myself at this point, ha.

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  32. Not sure about the rules in Texas, but in my state if a school is failing parents have the right to have their children moved to a non-failing school no matter the district. You should definitely look into that. Keep checking in with her teacher every week. I am a teacher and as much as I hate to say it students with parents that are willing to fight for them get better treatment, faster results, etc. So, keep fighting for her!

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  33. Hang in there Mama! We do the best we can with what we know. Your children are very lucky to have you in their corner. xo

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  34. I have twin girls who are freshman in high school. Through the years each has had their own set of challenges. You did the right thing by going outside of your school to get help. That will make more of a difference than anything the school does. My girls situations are different than what you are dealing with, but my advise is if the school she's in is not willing to put something in writing to help support your daughter get her out of that school. If you cannot afford private look into a permissible transfer into another public school with a solid reputation. If that doesn't work then I would look into moving. I know that is a huge undertaking, but it will be worth it. We had to go down that road when my girls were 5 and we moved several states away, but it was so worth it. We got into a great school district, but I still had to get outside help to get them through some rough patches. Now they are both doing great in honors classes with a busy high school schedule of clubs and extra curricular activities. It will get better and you are doing a great job.

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  35. You look like the cartoon character Daria from MTV

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  36. Hello Meg,
    I guess I am going to be the first teacher to respond. Yes, long are the days of play time in elementary school. Students are expected, even in Kinder, to do homework every night and complete projects. Actually, because you are at a failing school, your daughter is doing less than she would in a more advanced school. You will see the difference, when you move her.
    Also, parents have to be involved and fight for the kids' education. There isn't enough to people at schools to take care of every child's need. You know, something is wrong to the system, but before we fix the system, you need to help your daughter.
    Also, she won't get diagnosed for a while. She is way too young. Give her time, work with her at home and continue the tutoting.

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    1. I did want to mention that schools can fail for different reasons. (language levels of students, etc.) It is my experience that just because a school is failing does not mean that they're bad- many of these schools already have a lot of extra programs/supports in place to meet the needs of their students. Again, I know this does not apply to all schools, but I don't think all failing schools necessarily have bad teachers/education happening.

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  37. Thank you for sharing your life as much as you do. You are being a great parent. We to at times wonder are we doing it right...there are no manuals. Hearing your child is struggling was hard to swallow at first, but with help within the school and outside help he has made great strides (he is in 6th grade btw). Keep up the great work :)

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  38. My daughter is not in school yet, but my husband is a teacher. The fact that you are concerned and making every effort you can to communicate with the school and to get her help is enough. You are an awesome mom and we all have to learn. Thank you for being real and sharing this. This could help so many other mothers.

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  39. I love that you are willing to share with your readers your struggles & I also love how supportive other women can be. Makes me happy to see all the women who have commented and said that they have your back or they understand. Wish more women in the world would treat others like this! Thanks for being a great inspo!

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  40. We all have struggles, Megan! You are such a great mom! I heard a quote once that said something like, "moms who think they screwed it all up... end up with great children." You are the perfect advocate for her.

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  41. I have a son that struggles as well. We added it up recently and between the ages of 5 and 13, we have spent over $125,000 on tutoring, vision therapy, and education. That number does not include clothing, food, toys. That's the amount just to keep him at level in school. Unfortunately, if you have a child in public school, the responsibility of getting your child extra help and putting action in place that will allow your child to succeed, is going to fall on your shoulders. The schools have too many children to keep up with, so you're going to have to fight hard for your child. My advice, fwiw, is to schedule monthly meetings at the school to touch base with her teacher. Continue the tutoring because for some kids that one-on-one makes all of the difference. It might be worth having her evaluated by a neuropsychologist and a vision therapist. I know it hurts financially, but I highly encourage you to look into private school. Yes, you may have a long commute back and forth if there isn't one close by (our commute is an hour in the mornings), but some children need a smaller classroom setting and an environment where the teachers can individualize the education if need be. We don't get to take fancy vacations (shoot we really don't get to take any vacations). I don't get to buy new clothes or get my hair or nails done. We don't have many luxuries. In the end, I am more than willing to sacrifice a ton of my "wants" in order to pay for my son to get the education that he deserves. Prayers and good thoughts being sent your way! Emily

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  42. Meg,

    It's not about blaming you, the teacher or the school. Tutors are great as is extra help, but if you want THE BEST for your daughter, THE BEST IS YOUR TIME (or Oliver's).

    Spend time with her EVERY NIGHT. Go over math problems together. Explain to her how and why you got the right answer. Every night. If she doesn't get math homework nightly yet, ask for some. Soon enough she WILL be having it every night and it's the one on one with mom and dad while it's still fresh in her brain from school is KEY to long term success.
    This is where some extra time will pay dividends. Tutors are great and I know you're thinking you suck at math so you'll just hire a tutor but I swear to you it's not the same.

    Go over each problem TOGETHER. Explain to her how you got the right answer, over and over. I swear to you you'll see results.

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  43. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I taught for 9 years, and the best advice that I can give is regular communication with her teacher, as well as you going in and observing the class. Often, a parent can provide invaluable insights to the teacher when they observe in a classroom setting. You might pick up on things that are different in the classroom from how she acts at home, and you may be able to give the teacher new ideas to try.

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    1. I didn't know you could go and observe the class, hmmm. Thank you!

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    2. Different schools have different rules regarding this. Most will let you observe at some point in some way but there might be hoops to jump through. I am a teacher also and while I appreciate the concern I know that many teachers are not comfortable with parents observing class for many reasons. My current school allows it and it is not a big deal at all. My last school would have required you to meet with the teacher and principal first to determine the purpose/proposed outcomes of the visit and have it scheduled ahead of time. It's worth looking into it you feel it would be beneficial.

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    3. Also, good luck. I agree with all of the squeaky wheel comments. Often teachers can't get the responses they hope for but when parents speak up action happens more quickly.

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  44. Question: you mentioned you knew "....the school was a failing school..". What does that mean? Im equally petrified and uninformed, even as to what the above means?? Yowzers!

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    1. I'm going to assume her school is public since private schools aren't on the pass fail system, but in the state of Texas schools are ranked as failing, passing, or exemplary (I think there might be other categories as well). The ranking is not based on day to day grades/report card grades, but on the standardized testing that they make the kids do. The standardized testing in Texas is completely outrageous. I've actually fought hard at the capitol with our superintendent to convince the legislature in Texas to revise the standardized testing. My daughter is AP/honors classes and she's struggled passing some of the tests. There's a lot of schools in Texas that are really decent schools, but show that they are failing due to the standardized test grades. So, just because the school is failing it doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad school. In most districts, if your school is failing then you have the option to transfer your child to a school that is passing in the same district. In some of the smaller districts, there's only one elementary, one middle, and one high school. If that's the case then there isn't another school to transfer to. I hope that helps :)

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    2. Awesome, thanks so much Emily. That was incredibly helpful!

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  45. I have a special needs child and have been learning as I go when it comes to dealing with the school. Each state is a bit different as far as regulations go, but you can request that the school access your daughter for any learning disabilities and request a 504 plan or IEP if needed. Speak to your pediatrician too. They may recommend an educational psychologist to do testing.
    We all learn as we go! Your daughter will be just fine. She may just need a little extra help in the short term.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  46. I'm a Diagnostician and gosh we see this all too often. If the school has a "failing grade" from TEA you should be able to enroll her at any school within the district without moving. It could be lack of good, strong teachers or she could have a learning disability. Nonetheless usually these kiddos need more of the help that's offered but sometimes not told to parents.

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  47. This sucks. We try so hard as parents and even if we think we are doing the right thing wham! Blindsided! But, we are their parents, it is our job to advocate for them, and that is what you are doing, you are advocating for your kid. Making sure that you handle the tough stuff so she can do what she needs to with the best foot forward SO DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. You are being a parent, you are doing your job as her momma. My son had to have surgery when he was four weeks old and I will never forget the maternal awakening I had, Along with my husband we had to band together and say no, that's not good enough Doctor try again do better or get me someone that can. And now I have a child that is shy, has a hard time adjusting to new circumstances, is distrustful of new adults and I have to go before him and say look this is what he needs, this is the help we need and if you cannot help me then I will find someone that can. I sound like a crazy lady the way I wrote that, but it is HARD as a mom to rise up and ask for help for my meek child, you are doing the same you are taking the necessary steps, asking the questions and demanding more. Good luck, thank you for sharing I think it is important for everyone to realize there are struggles and we all have them so be kind to one another because you don't know what that person is fighting!

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  48. You are NOT alone. My daughter entered 1st grade this year and we are having the same struggles as you are. The kids are expected to learn so much more now and be ahead on testing but the schools aren't prepared to give more help. It is super frustrating. If I had known my daughter was going to have these problems I would have had her repeat Kinder instead of being set up for failure in first grade.

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  49. Move to Wylie. I live there and we have great schools!

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    1. I 2nd this!! As a wife to a WISD educator and mom to a 1st grade student I can not say enough about Wylie ISD. The best!

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    2. Wylie ISD in the house!! Whoo Hoo! Awesome school district!

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  50. Oh Megan... I love this and needed to read this today. I'm at a different stage in my life with no babies, and not being married yet, but that last paragraph hit home. I SO OFTEN think how I must be the one person in the world without my shit together. Whether it be in my dating life, my weightloss journey, or my work, I often wonder what the hell I'm doing and how everyone else manages to have their ducks in a row. Thank you for sharing - it means the world to get a reminder that there's no how-to manual for life, and we're all learning as we go.

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  51. I hope all of you that are so frustrated and outraged by the lack of communication and subpar teaching at schools will look at how your schools are funded. I know you're in Texas too, Megan, and the mechanism and level of public school funding in this state is REPREHENSIBLE. Find out how your local senator and representatives have been voting on education funding and demand that they do more: http://txlege.texastribune.org/topics/budget-and-taxes/#budget-fallout-from-school-finance-lawsuit. Schools are limited in what they can do given the limited resources that this state provides. Something to consider when everyone is voting in November...

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  52. This is a great blog post & first off your not alone at all !! Alyssa ( my daughter) is the same Age as Madison & has similar struggles but in different places . I find myself crying and wondering where I went wrong or what I coukd have done differently that would have helped her more . Trust your mommy instinct cause it's always right . The best thing she has going for her Megan is having you as a mommy, that cares so very much and will help her to achieve and overcome anything . I truly feel these school systems expect so much out of these kids and it's one pace only , which is harder for some kids ( like mine ) . Your doing all the right things . She's got this & great things will come for her !!! Great job Megan .

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  53. I can't read all the comments now, but I'll just share my story! My son is also in first grade, and unlike Madison's teachers, my son's school and teachers failed to be transparent. It wasn't until we took him to a new school for assessment because we are moving states that everyone starting questioning his abilities. It turns out that in school, my son is a completely different child and won't reveal what he knows. Through a lot of research I found out a lot of negative aspects of the school I wish I had known before hand, but, at least we're on our way to getting him a diagnosis now. The hunch is he has an anxiety that is preventing him from performing for others in school. My advice is to pay a private clinician who will really take his/her time to get to know the child beforehand and during whatever testing that way she's not expected to act/perform "within a box." It's so so frustrating and heartbreaking, but you will get to the bottom of this, and over time it will work itself out. You are doing the absolute best that you can!

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  54. You are a great parent. This...what you are doing by advocating for her, getting involved, getting extra help, it will matter and it will make a differecent. Both my kids went through a challenge with school that I was blind aided by, thought how did I miss that, felt like a riot parent but I wasn't and you aren't. My belief is every child struggles in some way and parents steer them through that struggle. My boys now 15 and 17 both recovered from their difficult time as will Madison with time and effort. Hugs to you.

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  55. I agree, you are Madison's biggest advocate. Try not too blame yourself. This isn't a matter of something you are or aren't doing.As a first grade public school teacher at a high achieving school in the Bay Area, I can tell you the rigor of our current curriculum is intense. And quite frankly, some of my 6-7 year old students are just not developmentally ready for what is being asked of them. The current Kinder curriculum is pretty much what I was teaching 6-8 years ago in first grade. Think abut that! The standards have changed and are difficult for some children to achieve at this age. My advice would be to ask lots of questions, request an SST meeting where teachers and specialists from her school will meet to discuss her situation. Ask for testing if retention is being discussed (if retention isn't being discussed, they may want to wait until she goes on to second grade until they test her because of her age) and ask for weekly updates from her teacher. I'm sorry you weren't made aware of her lack of progress sooner.

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  56. Im a first grade teacher at the type of school you're describing. All the teachers were removed and we are all new to this campus. I came with my principal to this campus to help rebuild it. It is no joke. I am constantly being observed by principals,specialists, other teachers to make sure we are teaching "rigor". I teach my ass off,but I still have 5kids that just don't get it. The TEKS have changed in the last 2 years. Many objectives that were taught in 2nd grade are now in 1st and 1st grade objectives are now in kinder. This is all because of the STAAR test. It sucks for the kids and teachers.
    I have tutorials 2 days a week and one Saturday a month. Has her teacher offered tutorials?

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  57. I'm a 2nd grade teacher. You are doing all the right things. You CARE! That is the best thing. You absolutely have NOT failed her. You love her and are doing all the right things. She will get there. Just make sure she doesn't get "down on herself". It takes time, doing things over the summer, vacations. She will be successful because look at her role models, they are successful (that is you and your husband). I have seen parents fail their children, trust me, you are AMAZING parents. You are doing all the right things. Keep loving her. You rock! :)

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  58. As a teacher, I can really appreciate how you are looking into the issue and trying to do something about it. Just an FYI in Texas- since state testing starts in 3rd grade, interventions (extra help) are usually given to students in the upper elementary grades. While I understand that you want more than extra class support, I'm impressed that she has been getting it in 2nd grade. Keep being an advocate and know that you are doing a great job! :)

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  59. You are not failing at all. You are doing the best thing and advocating for her. Think it is great you shared not only to help you realize you are not alone but help others realize they are not alone either.

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  61. thank you for sharing!! It is sooooooo hard.

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  62. they don't test in how great she is as a big sister and friend! Even if she is behind in some book smarts, she has advanced social skills. <3

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  64. Greetings! I do not have children but I have worked in several rural school systems and we too have schools that are "unaccredited" or not up to par for testing and parents can request that their child(ren) attend another school in district that is accredited. I don't know how transportation works out, I"m 90% sure the district has to provide it, but I do know that there is no tuition charged to the family. Something to consider if that is an option for you in your setting.
    I've also seen where kids "slip" through the cracks and end up in 5th grade with levels in 1st/2nd grade, if a parent writes a letter and requests a child study the school has to respond within a certain amount of time and meet and acknowledge the difficulties and make decisions to either move forward with testing or monitor and reconvene later. It's a really tough system to navigate and I don't think schools do the best job of letting parents know what they can/can't request or what is possible.
    Best of luck to you!

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  65. Thank you for being real! My oldest struggles in school (she's almost 16) For the first 5 years of school I listened to the teachers and staff tell me that she is just one of those kids that falls though the cracks...tests well enough for no extra help, but still fails classes. Finally in 5th grade the special ed teacher told us to have her medically evaluated. We found out that she has ADD and severer double vision! How did our eye doctor not find this????? Anyways, after 12 weeks of intensive vision therapy and medication and finally an IEP at school, Haley is doing so great! She reads on a high 5th grade level (she is a sophomore) and her math is at a 7th grade level. She is still behind most of her peers but she works her tail off. She has been on the honor roll twice so far in her high school career and we have started looking at colleges. Don't give up!!!! You have to fight for her...unfortunately the school will not. I will keep you in my prayers! Much love from Kansas!

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    1. I am confused as to why you follow and read Megan's blog if you don't like her?? Also, what happened to building people up instead of tearing people down. Please take your negative thoughts and bullying elsewhere.

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    2. What the heck is your problem? If you have nothing nice to say... Truly your comments show your own lack of class and apparent lack of manners. Her blog is her business, of course she is going to comment about hair, etc. Stop reading, no one wants your negative crap. Go back to your miserable life.

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  68. Meg, have y'all gotten her eyes checked? I don't know if you read Fancy Ashley's blog but she had a problem w Teddy. They thought he had a learning disability, but later found out it was he couldn't see! They had to get a second opinion and it was a mess.

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    1. Just through the ped's office but I'll look further into that - thank you!

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  69. I am a math teacher who used to work at one of those tutoring centers. I think it is great that she is getting extra help outside of school, but I also know that those tutoring centers can get expensive! If I was in your position, I would make sure that her tutor has a math degree! I was the only tutor at my facility with a math degree and a teaching credential. The other tutors were college students getting their degree in high school/college level math. If your tutor through that facility doesn't have a math degree/teaching credential already, you would be getting a better deal paying a private tutor from a local college who is planning to be a teacher specializing in math. There is a HUGE difference in people that can do math and those that can teach it. Best of luck!

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  70. I can relate on many levels with this post! I wish you and Madison the best. Some helpful advice that I was given while going through something similar with my child... Focus on effort and less on product. I am a teacher, and I wanted to equate his efforts with his grades. By focusing on his efforts to do his work changed my perspective on how I veiwed his grades. It is hard to see your child struggle academically, personally, or socially. I hope you are successful in finding a positive outcome for Madison.

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  71. I personally went through a very similar situation. I was really struggling in first and second grade, my parents had me tested and evaluated and tutored and anything imaginable. The school I was in was fine. It wasn't the best but it also wasn't the worst. I stayed at that school through third grade and continue to struggle. It should also be noted that when I was tested, I was never diagnosed with anything, so I was just a "slow learner" which is just how it is with some kids and that's totally ok and normal. After that year of struggling through everything, my parents decided to enroll me in the local private school. And that's when everything changed. After about 2 months I was getting all A's and B's and I loved school. I can't pinpoint exactly what it was that flipped the switch in my brain, rather it was a multitude of things. Rather than being in a class of 30, the class was only 20 kids so the teacher had more time to spend with individual students if needed. The whole outlook and purpose behind school and teaching also changed. Every teacher was there because they LOVED teaching and they really wanted the kids to love learning. They made school fun and entertaining. They constantly told us about high school and college and how amazing the opportunities were there. The school also wasn't state funded, it was donor and parent funded, so they could spend money where they saw fit rather than by the state allotted budget. After elementary/junior high I moved on to a private high school and ended up graduating with a 4.2 GPA and went to an amazing college and I am now an architect, not because I'm amazingly smart of gifted, but because my parents fought for me to be a better student and to have better teachers and a better school and learning environment. So you are definitely doing the right thing! Fighting for your daughter to be in the best place she can be to excel like you know she can is the best thing you can do! Loving learning is one of the best things my parents taught me and sounds like you are doing the same for your kids!!

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  72. I teared up reading your post. As a second grade teacher, I hope I have never left a parent feeling this way. I, and I'm sure many teachers, try to stay abreast of communication with parents. Certainly, if a student is failing there should be communication and documentation of what the teacher is doing to intervene.
    To reassure you, I have students who do not score well on I-station and still read well. Istation is a timed computer test. Any distractions or long hesitations and it assumes a child doesn't know the answer. I frequently do one on one assessments for reading level, fluency, etc. There is no perfect assessment but computer based testing has its issues.
    Hopefully this gets resolved. I worked in a failing school last year and I can say I tried my very best. Behavior made it almost impossible to teach some days and we struggled as a class. As a failing school, they should have been placed on a campus improvement plan. My hope is that they can fulfill this to reach a passing level, for her and for all the children at the campus.

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  73. Hey Mrs. Meg!! I am a special education facilitator for a local school district. If you ever need any help, please let me know. I would love to help! Here is my email - miranda.leah.tx@gmail.com

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  74. I just wrote this really long/awesome comment and it vanished in thin air on me haha maybe it will show up later, but in case it doesn't I will try to make it shorter for now haha. I teach 4th grade and I totally understand your concern. It really is sad that students aren't tested until 2nd/3rd grade. I teach a self contained EIP class meaning all my kiddos stuffle with reading and/or math. I spend most of my time thinking outside of the box the try to reach my kids. It's a daily struggle trying to teach the standards when they don't even understand the basics and fundamentals. Madison seems very active. Try to incorporate play to help with math. Use a soccer ball and write numbers on each cirlce(shape thing haha), kick the ball to her and have her use her foot to stop the ball placing her foot on a number. Have her kick it back and your foot land on a number. Have her add those numbers together. Once she gets it right she can try to score a goal. Just make it fun. Another idea is using side walk chalk and draw number lines. Give her a problem and have her solve it using the number line. Example 2 + 2. Have her stand on the 2 and jump two more numbers and have her share her answer. These are just some suggestions. If you need anything at all I am more than willing to help you out in any way. bturpin0914@gmail.com

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  75. Meg,
    Good for you getting some outside help! As a first grade teacher, I often have children who struggle with math because of the amount of reading they have to do - when they become better readers, math seems to click. I love having parent helpers come in and work with children one on one or in small groups. If your daughter's teacher offered that opportunity, you could have a great sense of where she is among her peers and you'd be helping out greatly!
    My husband (also an educator) and I are parents of 3 very different types of learners. As much as we want to be upset with a certain teacher or school when something is amiss, just remember to always be involved - communicate as much as you can with both the teacher and the child to help them succeed.

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