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Recovering from a Bad Teacher
Q: My five-year-old son was in a private school last year. His kindergarten teacher was recently fired for putting kids in the closet as punishment. He gave up on his school work last year and she failed him. His psychologist wants to give him a placement test to see if he is ready for first grade. How can I help him get excited about his new school and teacher, and help him prepare for this testing without bringing up painful memories of this past year?
A: Take your son to visit his new school several times between now and the first day of school. Introduce him to the principal and any other staff members who are there. Show him the classrooms, cafeteria, and media center, and be sure to allow time to play on the playground. Seeing all of these places and meeting the staff will show your son that this school is different from the one last year.
Talk with the principal about your son's class setting last year and request that extra care be given to his class placement for this year. Ask that he be assigned to a teacher who will be caring and understanding of his concerns. Make sure that your son meets his teacher before school starts and when you are with him so that he will know that this is a safe person who has your approval.
Try not to put any pressure on your son about the placement testing. Be very casual about it, explaining that the psychologist just wants to see what your son knows. Putting too much emphasis on the importance of the tests may make him anxious. The psychologist can also help you by talking with your son about what to expect next year at his new school.
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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.