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Written by:  Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts
Date: September 28, 2010

Q: Since school started, it has been a daily battle to get my kid off to kindergarten. She whines, cries and procrastinates. At school, she prefers being with the teacher to being with her classmates. And rather than paying attention to her work, she tries to see what the rest of the class is doing. The teacher is not very happy with our daughter's behavior. What should we do?

— Help Needed


A: Kindergarten is a year in which your daughter will learn how to adjust to the school environment. She needs to learn listening and sharing skills, as well as how to behave appropriately in the classroom. She should master these things so it is easy for her to pick up the academic skills to prepare her to read and do math in first grade.

Your daughter's hard time adjusting to school probably ties into her reluctance to go to school in the morning. Make the morning routine as simple and pleasant as possible.

It sounds like you have talked to the teacher about the situation. Many young children do prefer being with the teacher until they make friends with their classmates. Help your child get to know some of the other children in her class better by scheduling play dates with them.

The teacher should also be doing things to help your daughter get to know other children better. Your daughter seems to enjoy seeing what the other students are doing rather than working independently. At times, the teacher could put her in a small group with other students who may work better in small groups. The child also could be seated in the front of the room, away from the distraction of seeing so many other children.

Visit the classroom to observe your child's behavior. Then talk with the teacher about ways the two of you can work together to improve the child's behavior. Perhaps the child could be given some assignments at home similar to those she does at school. You could focus on helping her learn how to handle them and stay on task. You also could play-act work situations at school with your daughter to show her how to handle them.


Q: Last year, in second grade, my son's reading fluency was below grade level. The school put him in a special reading class. Currently, he is receiving reading instruction in the regular third-grade classroom. He also has a tutor who says he's now reading on grade level. The school says he is a very bright little boy with a vocabulary at the sixth-grade level. Should I continue having him work with the tutor?

— Special Help or Not


A: Reading on grade level is a good thing. However, the brighter a child is, the greater the reading potential. Students with above-average intelligence are expected to read above grade level. What we're talking about is something called "reading expectancy."

There are a variety of reading-expectancy formulas that can be used to predict the level that your son should be reading on. You might ask the school to do this. We suspect that he should be reading beyond the third-grade level.

Keep the tutor, if you can afford to do so. Have the tutor test and then focus on the areas that cause your son trouble until he becomes a very proficient reader who is able to handle material above grade level.


Q: How do I know if my school-age children are getting enough sleep? They always want to stay up past their bedtime.

 — Sleepless


A: All children do not need the same amount of sleep. Most studies show that children between the ages of 6 and 9 require about 10 hours of sleep. Preteens and teens need a little more than nine hours. Teens can be sleep-deprived because their body clocks are telling them to stay up late, and schools often start so early.

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, your children may not be getting enough sleep:

Do they usually fall asleep in the car?Do you have to get them out of bed every morning?Do they seem overtired during the day?Are they falling asleep in class?


Parents: You need to be aware that the vision assessments given by schools are not comprehensive eye exams. Plus, there are other risk factors for poor vision, including premature birth, developmental delays, a family history of strabismus, and diseases that affect the whole body, such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia or HIV.

You need to follow professional recommendations for eye exams. You also need to be alert for warning signs of potential vision disorders in your children, including:

Squinting, closing one or both eyesConstantly holding materials close to the faceTilting the head Rubbing eyes repeatedlyOne or both eyes turn in or outRedness or tearing in eyes


Parents should send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of Piedmont Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395 or e-mail


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