Is there anything more frustrating or saddening than watching a child struggle?
If there is, then I'm not aware of it.
My daughter is an endangered species in . She isn't a "TAG kid." (Yes, I know they don't call it TAG anymore.) Participating in the school play interests her not at all. (She was horrified when I suggested it.) Chorus? Thanks, but no thanks. ("Really? Mom, I am a terrible singer.") She doesn't play chess. Her grades are respectable, mostly 3s, scattered 4s, and the odd 2.
Rather, The Girl's interests focus on her cat, soccer, art, reading and writing -- but not necessarily in that order. She loves listening to music, and is slowly embracing her choice of instrument, the flute. She has a million friends, and an astonishing sense of humor cushioned in a zesty belly laugh and bedroom eyes.
Anyone lucky enough to catch this girl will have to meet pretty high familial expectations. They'll also have to scale a pretty big electric fence, which my husband swears he is building soon.
She's the whole world to her family. To everyone else, she's just your average kid.
It took me almost ten minutes to bring myself to write that sentence.
Math, to my great sadness, has become her mortal enemy. She struggles at home and performs "fair" at school. For a while it seemed like she was improving, but this year we are back to square one. One year, I pushed insistently for extra help from school, and got it -- for a little while. Then the help disappeared, and her brief progress receded, like a bathtub slowly losing water.
After she recently handed me a blank sheet of homework with tears in her eyes, I could no longer stand watching her struggle. I fired off a pretty angry email to anyone I thought would have an interest in reading it -- six people, in my estimation. I have faith that something will come of it.
The average child, not unlike the middle class, is becoming an endangered species in this country. Neither "special enough" for advanced schoolwork nor extra tutelage, these children coast along because everything's "fine."
It's my firm belief that these children need the strongest advocation of all, lest they pass by unnoticed. Behavior problems? Nope. Academic issues? Well, maybe they could practice their "math facts" more. Social problems? Well, maybe that one bullying problem a few years back. But otherwise, nothing. No red flags, no "issues," nothing that would appear on a progress report as a leading indicator of future trouble.
But you know, don't you? Can't you feel it inside when the grades don't match the child? In our case, it definitely doesn't help that I am the worst tutor of all time, but that also means I can tell quickly when a problem becomes chronic.
Listen to your little voice. When you know something isn't right, speak up. Don't let teachers or administrators assuage your fears when you know in your gut there's an issue. Be your child's squeaky wheel. Demand to be heard. And don't stop until your child gets the help he or she needs.
Mostly, remember that the "3" is the most dangerous, overlooked grade of all.