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Seeking Provisions for an Average Student

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: When I tell school administrators and counselors that my daughter is having trouble adjusting, the first thing out of their mouths is "Have you taken her to see a doctor?" They have a zero-tolerance policy and my daughter has lost time at school as a result of her nervous stomach. It seems as though everything is slanted towards the TAG students (talented and gifted) and there are no provisions for the average student who is struggling.

One of my daughter's teachers reluctantly says she is available after school, but makes it clear that she does not live close by and has two children that she needs to get home to.

How do I proceed so that I am within my rights as a parent? I feel as if my daughter is in a military institution. She is changing and becoming more and more frustrated every day and does not enjoy school.

A: "Have you seen a doctor?" is not what I would ask, but you might rob them of that defense from them by taking her and being able to say, "Yes I have -- but that is not the issue here."

You do not mention what grade or how old your daughter is or whether this has happened before. I am supposing she is in her first year of middle school. Is she struggling with homework, classwork, or peer relationships? Is the "zero tolerance" you mention for absenteeism, weapons, what?

Your rights as a parent are many. You can require your daughter to be tested; you have a right to see all of her records; you have a right to request progress reports. You have a right to be there requesting help for your daughter. As you have already determined, that doesn't mean that some teachers, counselors, or administrators will care.

Keep trying to find that one teacher, counselor, or aide who will assist you. Are there parenting groups in your area? Most people find them a wonderful source.

Contact me again with any details that might help me advise you better.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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