My kids (grades 2&4) are very bright and very active. The traditional school setting does not seem to be working for them. This is evident by their perpetual visits to the principal's office for disrupting the class and comments from the teacher about them not paying attention. After speaking with the teacher about what they are doing in class, I think they are bored. They don't like school. I don't want school to be a long, hard road for them. Any suggestions?
Hah this is a really good and old question.
Let me tell you something else first...
School for a bright kid is not about teaching. And not about learning because if he is as bright and vivid as you say he will learn everything himself.
A school for a child like him, is about learning the hard way in life unfortunately. It is about learning discipline. It is about learning to pay attention even if you are bored as hell, because you wont get by in life without a good concentration skill..
Of course they are bored. School is boring. And flat. And destructive. What you as parent can do is... assure your kid that it will get better. Assure him that he is smart. Don't pressure him to bring home good grades. Just tell him to learn how to pay attention. Make a game out of it.
Tell him if he pays attention, let him map how the teacher walks in the class. What words he / she uses. Create a challenge for him. Create a quest for knowledge for him that he finds interesting.
BUT!! Make sure he studies never the less. Then he must be creative at home. He has to utilize his skills other ways. Show him piano. Show him interesting stuff like physics. Show him the world and he will like it.
Now... You could switch school, you could get a personal teacher and so on and so forth. That depends on how much you have to spend on school. But if not, then do the above and he should be fine, although he will always rebel a bit. :)
As per Lennart Regebro's comment i'd like to add this link:
It's an article about home schooling vs real schools.
I never said that doing a good homeschooling is bad for a child. But it depends on the parents Time, Money, and Resourcefulness if he can afford it.
I empathize that if you can then YES you should switch to a school more challenging or homeschooling or personal teacher.
If you have some time to spend teaching your children yourself, and you have some money you could contribute towards their education, you could look into a homeschool co-op, or a part-time homeschool-curriculum based private school. These are both significantly cheaper than traditional private schools, and might offer an environment in which your children could move at a faster pace than other kids in the class in academic areas where they are strong.
With a co-op, you find other parents that want to homeschool or use a homeschool curriculum, but you pool money together to pay a teacher for several families. This is usually a 2 or 3 day a week thing, then you do additional work and extracurricular activities with them yourself the other days.
If this is an option for you, I would highly recommend seeking out a program or teacher that is familiar with the Classical Education system of teaching. My two older kids who are school aged have learned with this system, and we are very satisfied with the results.
To bring the discussion back to your question, ultimately we've found that when our kids are in a smaller classroom (7-8 kids max) and are learning with the Classical Education model, they are never bored and are noticeably excelling in all academic areas each year. They love school, and are excited about learning. In a class setting, students can move at different paces on certain subjects. For example, when my oldest son was in 4th grade, there was a kid in his class who was doing 9th grade math.
In public schools, my oldest son was bored and never challenged. He constantly came home with worksheets geared towards helping him pass a standardized test (which ultimately is more about the school than my child, but that's another discussion).
If you want to find out more about Classical Education, there is a good book called The Well-Trained Mind.
I suggest reading at least the first chapter of "Have Space Suit, Will Travel" by Robert A. Heinlein (the rest of the book is a bit entertaining, if dated, but the first chapter is pure gold). The suggestions there are more for high school students than grammar school students, but the philosophy is the same:
Public school is crap. Especially for bright students. Find other things they can learn to occupy their time, preferably subjects they want to learn. Tell him to read the whole textbook instead of sticking to the parts the curriculum says to stick to, for starters. Then start feeding him classics like Edgar Rice Borroughs (trust me, he's old enough for these - I was at 7), Johan David Wyss, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Louis Stevenson. This high adventure stuff has 9 year old boy written all over it.
Also, he needs to know not to be a snob about being smarter than the other kids or learning faster than the school wants him to. That just leads to trouble. If all this is truly because he's really bored in class, he can crack open War and Peace or a high school math textbook. The teacher won't bother him at all then.
Alternatively, your kid isn't as bright as you think he is, but I doubt that (parents usually know for certain about that before the kid turns 5). I for one, was never disruptive in class. I just felt held back by what the curriculum offered.
How do you know that they are stuck in a boring school? In particular I want to point out the word "stuck". Could they attend a different school?
You could help them to get extra education at home. Did you consider home schooling? You could also try putting them in front of http://www.khanacademy.org and seeing what happens
The Montessori method is something you may want to consider, as well. You can check to see if there are any Montessori schools nearby.
You might be interested for the following wikipedia articles:
If you have any similar schools near you, it might be a really good idea to make a contact and see if they fit to your philosophy and to children's needs..
If your child is "gifted" you can try looking up AEGUS (the Association for the Education of the Gifted and Underserved Student) for help advocating for a better situation to suit your child's particular needs as well as educational opportunities about how these kids need a different kind of educational environment than they are often given and how to best help them at home whether you are helping by supplementing a curriculum from a mortar and brick setting or you take them home for homeschooling.
I also see mention of homeschooling quite a bit above. In addition to co-ops and the like, there are charter schools that are really organizations that help you school at home. They often offer a community of support, days and field trips that include chances for kids to get together for cool activities or even to become involved in a school team or choir if the community is large enough. Sometimes they do this all for free under the umbrella of being a public charter school. www.k12.com is one that operates internationally and is free in most of the States, but it isn't the only program (its just most would be a lot more localized). Keywords like "virtual schools," "free home-education," and "public learning centers" (plus the name of your region) should yield resources for your area. Using this type of system has worked really well for us so far - Mine was reading in third grade and in the fall of her kindergarten year was tested as reading and comprehending at about a 4th - 5th grade level (depending on the test results trusted).
If HS interests you as an option, this answer addresses both common concerns and common problems with homeschooling and has a few articles at the end you can look up for more information about HS studies, options, etc.
One thing that's not clear from the question is whether you are using the school as a free day care while you are at work or otherwise not available to supervise your children yourself.
If not, you can reduce their hours.
Now, what if you need them to be there? "If leaving the school is not an option, then encouraging his kids to find ways of entertaining themselves in a non-disruptive manner when they have finished their work is an important skill. I constantly kept books with me at school because I always finished my work early, but I knew better than to be sent home with a note saying I'd been disruptive in class. If reading isn't his deal, then a Suddoku book might be or a small logic puzzle book that he could work on in class." Some children can't concentrate on something like that with so much going on around them.
The short answer is to tell the teacher, in response to complaints of disruptiveness, "Keep him busy. Give him plenty of work to do that challenges him." Since it is not likely she's going to take the time to design additional worksheets for your child, you may want to send in some materials you have selected yourself.
Take a look at the lists of accommodations recommended for children with ADHD. I'm not saying your children are ADHD, I'm just saying that some of those accommodations are GREAT! I hope your lines of communication with the teacher are open enough that you can get some of those accommodations implemented -- either informally or formally through a 504 plan (you could say that it's for Executive Function).
I don't have of those lists handy, so I'll give you a similar one written for children with Tourette Syndrome. http://teacherweb.com/NY/ValleyStream13/howellroadpbis/CatalogOfAccomidations.pdf
There's some stuff in here you can skip over, but there's also a lot of great ideas for active children (who tend to be the square peg in elementary schools).
Try to get more dynamic teachers for next year.