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Thursday, February 12, 2009

So thankful for inspiration

I am so grateful for a little miracle that happened in our family last week. I've been worried about Tyler for a while now and have been very concerned about what is going on with this little boy. I notice he's a lot more concerned with what other kids think (already!), and he's just not pay attention at school well and hasn't been advancing in his reading for months.

My boys just aren't talkers, so I had no clue what was going on. I asked if there were kids who were being mean to him or bullying him at school. Nope. I asked if anyone had touched his red zones or shown him inappropriate pictures. Nope. I asked all the questions I could think of repeatedly to no avail ...

At his last parent-teacher conference the teacher said he was having a hard time listening. I asked if it was any worse than other boys his age, and she said not really. She's a first-year teacher, so I was wondering if she was just thinking that little boys would act as appropriate and adorable as little girls? Not that that excuses it, but I wasn't sure why she brought it up.

I spoke with another parent who goes in to help more than I do, and she said her little girl has been getting stomachaches a lot more often lately, so she wondered what was happening in the classroom as well. After thinking about this (and about an earlier conversation with a different parent about the teacher mentioning our children being the "young ones" in the class), I was hit with inspiration: Tyler isn't getting positive reinforcement at school. All of a sudden it all started to make sense!

Without positive reinforcement, why should he behave? And if you're never getting any it's going to affect you no matter how old you are -- but even adults may not be able to put into words what's wrong, so no wonder he couldn't tell me what was happening. I realized that because of his first two weeks (which were difficult emotionally as he re-adjusted to school), she kind of had pegged him as immature. She did ask me at the first parent-teacher conference why Tyler was in this grade because he was so much younger than the other kids (his birthday is late August). He's never had any problems before, and in fact has always been above reading level, does well in math, and is always commended by teachers for his social skills. However, apparently this teacher noticed his birthday (which isn't hard to do since we bring in birthday treats the first week of school) and has judged him for that as well.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I think his teacher is great. However, with it being her first year, I think she's overwhelmed with planning her curriculum and is forgetting to compliment kids or she just hasn't realized how powerful positive reinforcement can be in motivating a child.

So, I sent her an e-mail asking her to really lay it on thick for a couple of weeks and see if that makes a difference. I actually got an e-mail back from her a couple of days later saying she'd noticed a huge difference after just a few comments. (I'm just sad he's been without it for so long!) She actually said she thought he was just unmotivated and didn't pay attention, but since she's given him some positive feedback she's realized that those areas have improved tremendously. I've noticed a HUGE difference in him at home that just makes my heart sing!

I am so grateful that we know what's happening so we can fix it. Like I said, he hasn't progressed in his reading for months, and yesterday alone he excitedly read a chapter book instead of playing with Legos. If we hadn't figured this out, he could have possibly fallen behind and actually been pegged as an unmotivated little boy who has problems listening. Can you imagine if he went to the next grade with that reputation? Who knows where it would lead. It scares me to think about!

In any case, I'm grateful for my Ty Guy and that he's back "on." And I'm even more grateful for inspiration to tell my mind what's up since I would have never figured it out on my own.


Lizzylou said...

So glad you got it figured out. Kids can really get lost in the shuffle at school. He is such smart and sensitive boy, you'd hate for him to get left behind. You're a great mom!

Park Family said...

Glad it got worked out and Tyler is doing better.

the Rowleys said...

Glad all was worked out.

Jana Nielsen said...

Wow, I'm glad you figured that out and caught it so early. I know what it can do when it goes on for a long time. He's a smart kid! I'm glad he realizes that about himself now.

Something I realize about Tyler as I see all those pictures: he looks so much like Paul did at that age (at least in my memory). I wonder if you could put up some side by side comparisons and see how close they really do look at the same ages. Of all the children of us Brown kids, I think he looks the most like his brown parent. It would be cool to see.