Thoughts on the F


My friend Cilla and Susan left a few encouraging and thoughtful comments on THIS POST.  Both were very helpful.  I just wanted to comment on some of Susan’s great thoughts.  By the way, read her cool BLOG, of which I’m extremely jealous of, because she has MUSIC!  Oh and she lives in Colorado where I pulled a 7 year stunt there.


Here’s a copy and paste of her (flattering) post (with my comments in color):

I happened on to your website quite by accident. I am a mother of two boys and have been a tutor from 2nd grade (non-reader) to college algebra. I love the expression of a child who has succeededespecially one who has difficulty. Sometimes there are things that as parents or tutors that we don’t understand from a child’s perspective. I would love to give you some tips about the spelling and behavior.

Thanks for the blog compliments!  I’m not as talented or as funny as many others that are on my blogroll, but I do enjoy it.  A little background on Brennen:  He was speaking as a normal kid, but when he was 2.5 he stopped speaking and would use hand gestures for things he wanted (a finger in the mouth meant milk).  Hearing tests and such came back fine.  He started speech therapy through First Step (a state monitered intervention programs for all types of disabilities).  He attended for 2.5 years and learned a lot there.  He still goes to speech 2 or times a week, his big problem is not finishing his words.  “A tree fell on my house” turns out to be “A tre fe on my hou.”  Since I’m used to him, I don’t notice it (I guess I mentally fill in the words), but his teachers and speech therapist notice. 

1) First set up a special time each day for homework. And set a specific amount of time for the work. For spelling in first grade I would say 10 minutes a day. Figure out the way he learns best. Buy magnetic letters, a small chalk board, colored markers and let him practice his words different ways. The last two nights before the test actually make him take a test just like he would in class. I have had kids who needed to write every thing down. I have other kids who needed to see everything.

Wow, really?  10 minutes?  I guess I’m overdoing it (writing 20 spelling words 5 times each daily).  The spelling test is a good idea, and I was going to use it today, but he “forgot” his word folder at school.  GRR.


2) Help him locate the words in magazines or books that he is reading.



3) Encourage him each day. Something like “WOW you did such a good job spelling “boy”.

Now for the behavior. I have an early child – graduated high school at 16 and has a 4.0 in college. I can tell you a couple of times we had teachers say he was immature. In second grade a teacher realized that he was not immature but bored. The teacher worked out a system with him to do his work then he would get to do something that was actually more work but to him it was a bonus.

Congrats on having such a smart son!  I wish him luck in school!  Now that you mention it, I remember Mrs. R, his kindergarten teacher, saying that he wasn’t “bad” but he’s very sharing and likes to talk to people, and he was very loving.  He does read very well, last year he was in the top reading group in his class.  So maybe perhaps, he his bored?  That’s a good question to bring up in a few weeks at our parents/teachers conference.


I strongly recommend positive reinforcement for good behavior. Sit him down and let him know that you realize that it is sometimes just hard to not talk or get up from his seat in class. But because those are the rules he needs to respect them. If he has a message book where you get messages each day tell your son that each day that he comes home without a color change he can play his video game for 30 minutes. If he can go 3 days in a week without a color change do a small something special (ice cream cone, candy bar, new crayons, whatever makes him happy.)

He knows that if he gets more than 3 color changes in a week, he can’t play flag football, which stinks, since Dad is the Coach.  If he goes with 1 or 0 color changes, we make a trip to the zoo or someplace cool like that.  I could never homeschool (or tutor), as I get frustrated with him too easily, thinking that he should just ‘get it’, but I realize that his little mind is developing and it takes practice.


I tutored a little girl that was a second grader and she kept having behavior problems and the parent got permission for me to sit in on her class. The problem was that she was so excited about everything she just wanted to share. She wasn’t a bad child. If she got an answer to something she would look at the child next to her and say ” I got it the answer was 7 so it wasn’t so hard”. The teacher had no idea what she was talking about only that she was disrupting class.

One more thing. As a parent we see everything our child does as a reflection on us. So we take it personally. DON’T. Try to understand exactly what is going on. Why his color is changing. What time of day? Who does he sit beside? Is there a window close to where he sits?

It’s hard NOT to take it personally, since WE are suppose to be developing a functioning person!   But I know we must put our needs aside for them sometimes (thank God for TIVO).


Sorry I have written a book but I am very passionate about children and education. And although there are many great teachers sometimes the classrooms are so large that a teacher may not be able to pinpoint each individual child’s specific learning style and behavior triggers.

Thank you for all your help and thoughts.  I appreciate them anytime, as this is all new to me!  Your experience is far more than mine!  I bet you are a great teacher/tutor, and an even better Mother!  HUGS!


2 responses »

  1. Me again. Unfortunately I am not the Susan that you posted to link to her blog. I am considering a blog but haven’t gotten that far yet.

    If I may, I would like to add one more thought. I have always discouraged punishment – such as not playing a sport – for school issues. One reason is that the sport is usually the child’s outlet and in this case a special father – son time. I recommed that at such a young age school issues be addressed with positive reinforcement. The more the association with school is positive at this young age the less problems you will probably have as he gets older.

    Also, in our district all teachers are required to put homework for the week on their school website.

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