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Q: I have been told by other parents, other teachers, and my son that after the kids are finished with their work in class, they are allowed to "play" (ring toss, bowling, etc.). My son received bad grades recently, and when I asked what was going on, he told me that their playing distracts him and he can't concentrate. His teacher can be very defensive. How can I approach this situation without putting my son in the way?
A: If you want your son's grades to improve, you will definitely need to contact his teacher. There is no way to approach this situation without talking about how it affects your son. Teachers want and need to know what is going on with their students and usually welcome parental input. Should the teacher hold this discussion against your son, you will need to deal with it.
Most people are only defensive when they feel that they are being attacked. Your attitude toward the teacher will make a big difference in how successful you are in resolving this situation in a pleasant way. Focus on building a partnership with the teacher to help your child and avoid criticizing her methods, especially playing games in class.
Ask the teacher why your son is getting bad grades and what can be done to improve them. Determine what subjects are causing him the most trouble and whether he is working on grade level. You will also want to address the issue of why it takes your son so much longer than the other students to finish his work. Find out what help is needed to get him back on track.
At the meeting, you should talk about your son not being able to concentrate on finishing his work when the other children are "playing." Work with the teacher to find ways that your son can complete his work in a quiet place.
Many people feel that children are just "playing" when actually they are doing educational activities. Remember, teachers want children to enjoy learning so games are often an integral part of their lesson plans. Games are a good way for children to learn new concepts and review old ones.
Hopefully, your son will be able to join in the fun with his classmates soon.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.