We’ve always known Kyle was smart. Real smart. Not in the way all parents think their kids are special, but in a “my child is 18 months old and knows all the planets by sight” smart. He could draw, count, identify letters and their sounds, and tell you which planets are rocky and which are gas seemingly since he was born.
But you all knew that, too.
So here he is in Kindergarten, chugging along, getting used to things like personal space, sitting still, waiting his turn, and following directions-all things that were introduced in preschool but that he never quite…mastered. The academics are fine for him. The homework isn’t very taxing, and we enjoy doing it together.
First, I got a mid-day call from The Principal, who had Kyle in her office because he hit another student. “I was just fooling around,” he said. But with hitting, you can’t fool around. He immediately got a red card – the ultimate sign of misbehavior in the school’s color-coded discipline system – and was sent to the principal. That afternoon when I picked him up, his teacher let me know that there have been other incidents in which he’s gotten frustrated with the other kids for not following his directions at playtime. Also, he’s been reluctant to complete his work during class. Disrespectful. Disruptive.
Despite the talking-to that Stewart and I gave him, and the “no video games until next week after you show us some improvement,” Kyle had a run-in with a different teacher the next day. During the breakout workshop, when he was grouped with other children of similar ability, he didn’t want to complete his writing exercise. He crawled under the table. He messed up the glue sticks. He sulked. The teacher said she spent a half hour cajoling one sentence out of him, shortchanging the other students in their small group.
Both teachers acknowledge Kyle’s capability. They say they know he needs to be challenged. They plan to create a special science center in the corner for him, and to focus reading exercises on space – a topic that interests him. While I appreciate their intentions, I know what really has to happen.
Kyle is in public school. He has to learn to play the game. Science camp and math puzzles will be great, but if he turns into a discipline case because he’s bored, well, aren’t we screwed? Today I drilled it into him that he must Listen, Show Respect, and Do the Best He Can. I made him repeat it to me.
And today he got a sticker.
But what about tomorrow?