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Q: My 15-year-old son really hates going to school. He says that every class is extremely noisy and he can't pay attention or hear the teachers. I had him take a tape recorder to school and tape a couple of classes. I listened to the tapes and found that the classes were too loud -- you could hardly hear the teacher. I took the tape to the principal and he said it was up to the teachers to keep their classes in line.
I want to put my son in home study, but have been told I can't because of a waiting list. Is there an alternative to getting my son the education he wants?
A: A frank talk with your son's counselor is necessary. Play the tapes for the counselor so he or she understands the situation. Your child deserves to be in classes where it's easy for learning to happen. You should request that he be transferred to classes in which the teachers keep order. Within every school, there are teachers whose classes are so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Keep pushing for your son to be placed in as many of these classes as possible.
There are also ways to deal with noisy classrooms. Your son should ask to be seated in the front so it will be easier for him to hear what the teachers say. He should also be allowed to wear headphones to listen to music during study periods in order to block out the noise. And it certainly wouldn't hurt for him to have several like-minded students join him in discussing with the teachers how disruptive the classroom noise is to their learning and how the situation could be improved.
You probably should consider whether there are other problems beyond noisy classrooms that are causing your son to hate school. Does he have friends? Is he in activities? If he participates in things he enjoys beyond the classroom, he'll probably like school more. One easy way for him to have a social experience with other students is to be an office aide. Or if he's more gregarious, joining school clubs could help him find a comfortable niche.
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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.