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Topic: Advice for a friend's new Step Kid, if you will

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Subject: Advice for a friend's new Step Kid, if you will
Date Posted: 10/28/2010 1:25 AM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2009
Posts: 88
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My good friend recently became a StepMom to two kids, a 9yo 5th grader and a 6yo 1st grader.  The little one is doing fine.

However, the 5th grade girl is way behind scholastically.  Apparently her Dad assumed Mom was taking care of the kids school related stuff, but in fact Gramma (Mom's Mom) was just (essentially) doing her homework for her.  Where Mom was, we can only surmise.  The schools, of course, kept passing her because, it'd hurt her self esteem to flunk her, and her homework was done, so what if she flunked the tests? 

Now the little girl lives with her Dad and my friend, her StepMom, and goes to a new school in their neighborhood.  My friend won't do her homework for her, but does help her with it (a lot) and/or check it as needed.  Dad's still pretty much out of the homework zone, but has at least started going to school functions, parent teacher conferences etc.  It's a start.

The reason I'm posting is because this kid is SO far behind.  They're learning long division now, and kiddo is clueless.  My friend at first figured she just didn't know her times tables, but came to find out she doesn't even comprehend what multiplication is (much less division).  And then my friend realized that this poor undereducated 5th grader can't even add without using her fingers.

Private tutors, Sylvan and the like are financially, while not out of the question, not likely to be affordable.  So I ask, can any of you recommend any books, games, teaching tips. . .I don't know. . . anything that her StepMom and /or I can help her with?  I doubt her folks want her held back a grade (although I'd be on board with it) but either way she's lacking in such fundamentals that I'm not sure holding her back would even help.  Unless they can send her back to 2nd grade. 

And that's just the math! 

She reads, I'm not sure how well, but she's having problems in her Reading class as well.  Recommendations for easier reading for a 5th grader would be more than welcome.  They have to be "chapter books."  I'm thinking Nancy Drew, but I read those 30 yrs ago, so I don't know if she'd be interested at all.

Any and all advice welcome, and thanks in advance!


Date Posted: 10/30/2010 4:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,571
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Have your friend go to the classroom teacher and ask for an intervention meeting immediately!  I don't know what they might call it in her area, but here we have IAT, which is an Intervention Assistance Team.  This is a team which should include the parent, the classroom teacher, a curriculum coach or counselor, and her stepdaughter's age I would even include the child.  The team will discuss the child's weak areas and brainstorm some interventions to see what they can do to help bring the child up to speed.  I strongly recommend having the child attend so that she can be an active part in her own education.  It also helps kids see the value in the work, if they are part of the decision-making process.  Whatever recommendations are put into place will then be used in the classroom for a set time period, usually six weeks, then the team will meet again to see if any progress has been made. If not, then the team may decide to go to testing to determine if there is a possible learning disability.

This is how it works in my district, anyway, her area may vary, but most have a similar process.  If your friend goes to the teacher and finds him/her unwilling to go through the process, have her go straight to the principal and demand a meeting.  Most teachers will be happy to go through the process, but there are some who can't be bothered and those are the ones you have to watch out for. 

As for chapter books, I'm pretty sure the Nancy Drew series has been updated, so she might find those enjoyable.  She might like the A-Z Mysteries series or the American Girl books, too.

Date Posted: 10/31/2010 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2009
Posts: 88
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Thanks Sandy!  I'll pass the information on to my friend.  I figured the school should have something along those lines, but it'll definately help knowing what it might be called and what will happen.  I think I'll order some books too!  If she doesn't read them, I know lots of kids, someone will.  Thanks again!