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Class Size Too Big?

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My third-grader usually does well in school, but his grades are declining and he has a poor attitude. I think there's a personality conflict between him and the teacher.

I think the class size is too big -- she can't give proper attention to each child. I am not the only parent who thinks so. What should we do?

A: Talk with the school principal and express your concerns. As you say, it is probably too late for much change this year, but the students who have that teacher next year may benefit from your efforts. Let the principal know the kind of teacher you would like your son to have next year (supportive, caring, understanding, or etc.) so that he can get off to a better start and have a more successful year.

Keep in mind that there is a big jump between second and third grades, both in curriculum and in teacher expectations. Many third-grade teachers believe that the children need to know they are no longer in primary school, and that more will be expected of them both academically and behaviorally.

It sounds like your son's teacher has had a tough situation this year. Even with an assistant, 35 children is an incredible number to teach. Current research has shown that children's achievement improves tremendously when class sizes are reduced. With that many children, it's no wonder that the students have trouble listening and paying attention. Talking with the principal may also improve that situation for next year as well.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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