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Problems with First-Grade Teacher
Q: My seven-year-old is a loving, kind, active boy. His first-grade teacher left a couple of months ago to have a baby. He has since become a behavior problem at school. Depression is something that runs in our family, so I am trying to keep a close eye on my son so that he doesn't have to endure the emotional problems that I did all through school. The teacher, counselor, and principal are trying to work things out with my son. I think the teacher may be part of the problem. My son is very sensitive and doesn't like to make mistakes. I suspect that she has given him the feeling that she doesn't like him.
I met her today for the first time after a very productive meeting with the principal and counselor. His teacher basically said that she "can't have this behavior in her classroom" and that he's "not only distracting her, but the other kids as well." She had a completely disgusted and unkind look on her face when she said this. She made me feel like a horrible parent. What should I do?
A: Unfortunately, sometimes a teacher is just not a good match for a child. This school year is almost over, but I would still talk to your school guidance counselor and/or principal to make sure that a better "fit" can be considered for next year. You certainly can have your son evaluated for ADD. Your son's physician should be able to help you with a referral or call the toll-free number for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) at 1-800-233-4050. CHADD is a support group for parents of children who have needs similar to your son's. Branches of this organization throughout the U.S. hold workshops and discussion sessions where you can learn from and share with other parents and professionals.
There are also many helpful books and videotapes that can give you ideas for helping your son at home. 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. is a terrific book/video package. Sam and Michael Goldstein also have a video to help parents: Why Won't My Child Pay Attention? Two other excellent books are Betty Osman's Learning Disabilities and ADHD: A Family Guide to Living and Learning Together and Harvey C. Parker's Problem Solver Guide for Students with ADHD.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.