Q and A: If my child is not flourishing in a traditional school, should we jump ship?

I was at ExpoMom last Saturday and bumped into an old friend. When we got to talk about what I do, she told me that her fourth grader who attends a traditional boys school is having a hard time — his grades were dropping, he wasn’t interested in the activities, etc.

Another friend texted me about the same situation with his 9-year-old daughter who studies in an exclusive girls school. She was bored and disinterested.

Because of this, they wanted to check out a progressive school for their children. Should they jump ship?

As a progressive school advocate, my automatic answer should have been, “Yes!” However, several factors need to be considered.

It is easy to think of jumping ship when there’s another ship to jump into. Years ago, parents did not have a choice but to go to traditional schools. If their children do not do well, then there’s the guidance counselor’s office or worse, they are tagged to be “slow” or “distracted” which then evolves to the tag “lazy.”

Going to a progressive school will not be the solution. It may only be part of it. The first step is find out what’s going on with your child.

The first factor to consider is age. When you check the ages of the children in my examples, they fall in that usually ignored gap called “Tween” or Between Childhood and Teenage years.  A study that I read showed that this age-range has the least amount of literature to read about. Mainly because, theorists don’t know what to do with them.

If you think about it, even when you enter the department stores, it’s also hard to buy clothes for them. Are they in the Children section or the Teens section? If you’re confused, imagine how confused they are!

This is the time when their hormones are about to rush into their brains, when they don’t understand what’s happening to their bodies and when they suddenly like the opposite sex but don’t know what to do about it. To use their language, they’re EMO (or emotional). Activities easily bore them. People easily bore them. And since they’re in school most of the time, school bores them. They want to get a rush from something they can’t put their finger on.

My suggestion is to give them an extra-curricular activity that they really like. My friend’s son was into origami and I suggested a class in the Nihongo Center.

Furthermore, if they’re in this age, it’s hard to transfer schools in the middle of elementary. So think about another factor before jumping ship..

Electronic Life. This is the stone in every teacher’s shoe. Believe me, teachers know when their students are too doped up with TV, PSP, Wii and all other abbreviations that need to be short because students can’t spell them anymore! How can school NOT be boring when the counterpart is playing computer games on a 4×6 console which has wifi capabilities and can be brought around anywhere?

How often is your child in front of an electronic gadget? It’s time to pull him out of cyberzone when the grades are slipping.

School Curriculum. What worried me when I was talking to my friend was when they had a school meeting, a lot of parents had the same problem with their children. There is strength in numbers. I suggested that they can meet with the school and inquire if there was any change in the curriculum. I strongly believe in voicing out your issues with the school because it cultivates a better parent-school relationship and it will definitely improve the school curriculum and services.I just pray that the school has open minds and hearts to listen and to realize that changes need to be made.

There’s nothing wrong in checking out progressive schools if you feel that your child is not happy in his present school. However, before doing that, check your child first. Talk to him. Then talk to the administrator of your present school. You may find out that the ship you’re in now just needs minor repairs.

After talking with your child and your child’s school, then you can check out progressive schools. Use this blog to ask questions. Then post your stories here. Talk to you soon!

6 thoughts on “Q and A: If my child is not flourishing in a traditional school, should we jump ship?

  1. Hi Teacher Tina,

    I hope you can give me advise on whether to transfer my 9 year old son from a traditional to a progressive or montesorri school. Last April my husband and I decided to see a Developmental Pediatrician because our son did not get the passing grade of 80 in his conduct, that placed him under a deportment probation. The school advised us that if ever we decide to re-enroll him this school year, he will be under special deportment probation which means that after the first term and his grade did not improve, he will be automatically send out of the school. Reasons for his misbehaviour ranges from being noisy, not copying notes, always walking around, going out of the classroom without permission, not doing his assignments, too playful, roaming around the school premises etc.. Though the result of the assessment is yet to be discussed to us, the Dev. Ped initially told us that he needs a school with low student-teacher
    ratio. Will a progressive school environment be a good choice? I know it is a risk to re-enroll him coz what if he does not meet the requirement? Really in a dilemma right now.

    Thank you and more power!

    Mommy Jing

    1. Hi Mommy Jing!Yes, I think a class with a low teacher-student ration and with a progressive philosophy is best for your son. However, we need to wait for your son’s diagnosis too just to rule out any learning issue. When did the behavior start? Was he doing well in prior years? What set up is he in right now? You may email me at teachertinazamora(at)gmail.com if you have more inquiries. Hope this helps!

    2. Hello Jing,

      I have the exact problems with my 5.9 yr old son. You did consulted the Dev Pedia, what is his diagnosis? would you mind sharing? I am considering transferring my son from his current traditional school to a progressive school.

      I am so depressed right now and i really need help!

  2. Hello Teacher Tina, am having a similar problems with my son who is 5.9 years old studying in a strict catholic school. He is in Grade 1 and he has the behavior stated above by Jing. Although i havent gone to a Dev Pedia, am considering to transfer him to a progressive school in the middle of the year (if thats possible)

    His preschool years in a progressive school, he is performing well enough to get medals and recognitions, however, he is too active in class. I dont know the problem, maybe because the class size in his current school is too big (38 in a class) as compared to his previous school(12). He has been into a few incidents in his current school that required me to talk to the teacher. I was almost always been talking to his adviser since June. This is not healthy anymore and is beginning to put a strain in my relationship with my son.

    What to do? Please help!

  3. Hi Mommy epv1001, what behavior did your son exhibit exactly? Some behavior do not warrant a trip to the developmental pediatrician specially if it’s a sign of disinterest or boredom in class. Personally, I don’t believe in the numerous diagnosis for ADHD because a child’s interest lies mainly on how the class is taught. I hope you can give more details on your son’s behavior. Thanks!

  4. Hello Teacher Tina, Am so happy you took time to answer my queries, am beginning to be depressed. Somebody suggested him to undergo Occupational Therapy which is kinda expensive.

    According to his class adviser, my son cannot behave in class, being noisy and talkative, leaving his schoolthings in class, going out in class without permission, wont copy notes, not listening to the teacher, wont finish his lunch, always running around and too playful. he is just 5.9 years old, in a big school and with lots of classmates. I was thinking he may not be adjusted yet, but its August already, how long can he adjust? The teacher adviser always talk to me even for just the littlest thing like, he cannot sit indian sit for too long, he sweats a lot, he runs around the gym while waiting for class, of which i think, she just cannot control and doesnt have patience. My son is just in grade 1, and on the active side, what do you expect?

    This has been causing me sleepless nights, i super appreciate your help, teacher Tina. Looking forward to your reply.

    Thank you!

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