Monday, December 10, 2012
Am I Becoming THAT Mom?
Little Boo is a super little guy, with a big heart and an interesting set of challenges that make life more difficult for him some (most) days. He's ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and Gifted (at least on the verbal spectrum). He's been reading since he was 4, and currently reads a couple of grade levels above expected. He's in first grade and he reads chapter books. (And, no, I don't in any way think he is alone in this. I just want to lay the groundwork here.)
A couple of weeks ago he borrowed a book from the school library that was part of a fantasy series. Chapter book. Content totally age-appropriate (I read it too). It is written for elementary grades. He loved it. But today, when he selected two more books from the series to read, the library teacher took them from him and told him they were for the older kids, and he was not allowed to borrow from that section of the collection. The books are too old for him.
Apparently she had been away the last library visit, and the teacher filling in for her had a much more open view of the matter.
Regardless of the specifics here, that my guy is perfectly capable of reading at that level, and he in fact has already started that series, how is it ok for this teacher to deny a child a book they wish to read? Even if it were beyond his ability, isn't the point of school to stretch your mind and learn new things? Constant development? So what if he ended up having it read to him? He was showing interest in reading, and that should have been welcomed and encouraged. It's not like he was trying to check out porn, or even teen angst. If it were Judy Blume, I would agree with the teacher - he's not developmentally ready for the content of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, though he could technically read it. And I'm not ready for the questions.
In the end, because of his other issues, he wasn't able to calmly explain himself. He did tell her he had already read Book 12 (why do things in order, right?), but when she wouldn't listen, he felt himself boiling over and went to sit in a quiet spot and calm down. But this interaction affected his behaviour for the rest of the day, and I now have a very sad and frustrated little boy, who was really looking forward to reading another of these stories tonight.
I've left a heads-up message with the school office, and I'll make an appointment with the principal in the morning. I am really hoping that Michael has misunderstood this interaction, but he re-told it so clearly, I don't think that is the case. No, the library teacher shouldn't be expected to be aware of the reading level of every child in the school. But she should be willing to accept that the kids develop skills at different rates, and not everyone fits the standard templates. Shouldn't she?
Wish me luck tomorrow. Not so much with my meeting itself, but with keeping my cool. I so do not want to become THAT mom. But I do think it is important to stand up for my guy. And I don't want him being restricted to "age-level" reading materials for the rest of the school year. He'll be bored silly and may never read again!
Tell me, am I out of line? (Please, tell me now, before I make an ass of myself.)
Update: I met with the principal on Wednesday, and she was very supportive. She had spoken with the library teacher, who had a different take on the incident. She said the issue was not that the books were too old for him, but that he still had other books out. I made it clear that the "other books" had gone into school that morning, and did not come home, so I suspected he'd returned them. Also, Little Boo is a lousy liar (thank God!), and he was so clear on what had happened and what she said, that I knew it came from somewhere. Perhaps a misinterpretation, but ...
Bottom line, the principal agrees with everything I said above, and promised she would make it clear with the library teacher that the kids can borrow whatever books they wish, regardless of perceived reading level. And yesterday he came home with the two books he had wanted on Monday. He was so excited!!
All's well that ends well. Thanks all for your support