Sunday, January 08, 2006

On my mind...

I have two students in my class that have been taking up a lot of my "free time" thoughts. They both have some pretty serious problems and I really can't help them.

Student #1:
I have written about this little guy before. I will call him James. James is a non reader. He is usually absent at least one day a week and is often tardy on the days he does attend. He is extremely distractable - wouldn't surprise me if he was ADHD. James used to excel at math but now is struggling at the one thing he could do well due to his absences and the fact that a lot of what we are doing in math is based on being able to read - he can't do this. He (his parents) have gone through all of the steps that parents have to when their kids don't come to school. He is on the last step now which means that his parents will probably have to go to court to deal with his poor attendance. I still rarely see him at school.

How can I help a child who is rarely at school? How can I help a child that when at school is not able to attend to the class because he can't sit still? I struggle with this a lot. He takes a lot of class time away from the other kids because he either needs help with the work or he distracts the rest of us from our learning/teaching. Oh! I forgot to mention - he is the cutest little thing you ever did see. He is sweet and adorable and quite verbally bright.

I feel that I have done as much as I can with this child. I have talked with the parents but they just don't seem to see the issue as I do.

Student #2:
This student I will name Ana. Ana is a hardworking, young lady. She loves school, loves being with her friends and loves her teacher. She is also overweight. Several months ago I heard Ana breathing very heavily. I asked her if she was sick and she nodded and said yes. I just assumed she had some sort of bronchial infection and was just getting through it. That heavy breathing has not stopped. Ana has so much weight on her frame that she can't breathe well. It is a struggle for her to sit with us at circle time because she can't cross her legs like the rest of the kids. When Ana first came to me, her mom shared with me that the kids at her old school teased her a lot due to her weight. Ana has not had any socialization problems here with us. She has lots of friends and is so happy to be at school.

I worry about Ana and her weight a lot. With all of the academic pressures we have as teachers, we don't have too much time for P.E. I believe that we are mandated to do so many hours a week of P.E., but that doesn't happen on a regular basis. When I do have P.E. class, Ana doesn't want to participate. I do my best to coax her and tell her how much fun etc but it is to no avail. This is the one and only area with me that she will politely refuse to do what I ask.

I know that I am not her parent but her weight concerns me. I have tried to do more P.E. just for her sake. I make a big effort not to bring in donuts, cookies or other food treats but rather pencils, erasers and other non food items. I have even started bringing in carrot sticks as treats.

I feel uncomfortable talking to mom about this issue because I don't want mom to think I am being judgmental. Mom is quite heavy herself. I am torn between expressing a huge health concern to mom and respecting her parenting practices.

What to do??? Suggestions anyone?


Teragram said...

James: Know that you are probably one of the best things in his life. Teachers tend to feel guilty because they can't do enough. You've done so much for this little guy already. I'm glad he has your support, such as it is.
Ana: Have you talked to the school nurse? (I know, what's a school nurse?) If it is indeed a health issue, then the nurse should consult with the mom. It's no longer a matter of your opinion, but a medical issue. If the nurse discusses the issue with parents, then you could just be supportive of his/her recommendations and the mom wouldn't feel intimidated by your comments. The girl and mom already know she's overweight--no surprise to them. Maybe the nurse can actually be proactive here.

msabcmom said...

Thanks Teragram!

I made the nurse referral yesterday. We will see what comes of it!