Monday, 1 May 2017

School "refusal"

or something like it?
A friend came yesterday. We spent a lovely afternoon knitting together and talking about her recent trip to Tasmania. She also mentioned how one of her granddaughters is doing "home-school" this year. The school environment, particularly the noise levels, were stressing her out.  At home she's just getting on with her work. She's not particularly "academic" but she will finish the year now. That's important.
And then later our neighbour from across the road came in and told us how her grandchildren would be moving school. The youngest, the one who has been causing so many problems, simply isn't coping with the school environment. She doesn't want to go to school. She isn't finishing any of her work. 
She is a actually a very, very bright child. She is way ahead of her classmates in Maths and English. When she is working on her own she is just fine. I've seen some of her work and it's good, very good.
But, even at home, there are times when she simply can't cope. She is a child who needs quiet. She needs an ordered life without too many instructions - and certainly without conflicting instructions. I suspect she also needs to be "told" at times rather than "negotiated with"  but modern child rearing leans to the latter here.  
She isn't lazy and she has a very inquiring mind. She is the sort of child who will learn even if left alone now that she can read. 
I feel for her. School is never going to be a good place for her. It wasn't a good place for me. I didn't like the noise. I didn't like being told what to do. I didn't like waiting for the others to finish. I wanted to get on with things. Is it any wonder that I was constantly in trouble for "reading under the desk"? 
     "What are you reading now Cat? A book about the Romans? It isn't history lesson. Put it away. If you know all those spelling words learn the next page. No, you don't know those too."
The problem was that I did know them. I knew the entire book before the year started. My brother did too. We were bored in the classroom so we were trying to entertain ourselves instead.  Of course I sometimes had to wait for people to write something down for me in the early years of school. Was I really expected to sit there and do nothing? I wanted to read!
Looking back now I think I did the right thing. I told my students, "If you have finished your work then get your book out and read until I have time to look at what you've done."
The only problems I had were, "Miss, I've finished my book" and "Miss, can't I finish the chapter?"
But Youngest is not finishing her work so that is not an option. She needs quiet and her own space. She needs a lot of books and the time to read them. 
That's why I am keeping all those children's books I have collected over the years. I know she will soon be working her way through them.


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