My son has been getting this message from his teachers in one form or another since kindergarten. He attended private kindergarten at 5 (he’s a September baby, the 29th, and this was an extension of his preschool) and public school kindergarten just as he turned six. He had been reading since he was barely 4 and so was reading chapter books at that time.

His kindergarten teacher was the sort who recycles lesson plans from year to year and loathes changes in the curriculum. The type who makes rules for the sake of making rules (no reading except during reading, etc.) and resents students who fall outside norms, on either side. She was supposed to be TEACHING her kids to read, what was she supposed to do with one who was reading at the level of most sixth graders? And he finished her lessons before she finished explaining them. He had been taught by his exceptional prior teachers (who had no problem tailoring his learning to fit both his aptitude and ADHD) to take out a book when he finished. Not on HER watch! So he spent his entire kindergarten year in trouble for reading. His most favorite thing in the world.

She was, no question, a straight up bully. She made it clear she didn’t like him and made it okay for the other children to gang up on him. If he and another student got into an argument, Alex was sent home to write an apology he would then read aloud to the other student in front of the class, but the other student did not have to reciprocate.

My happy , school-loving little boy would bang his head on his bed at night and cry about wanting to just die. Getting him to school every morning was a heartbreaking challenge.

We met with the teacher. We met with the principal. We just wanted him moved, but they would not move him. We filed a grievance with the school board. Us. Two former teachers who had pledged to always work in tandem with the kids' teachers were now in total opposition. We didn’t want to believe what we were seeing; that an adult would actually drive bullying right in her classroom.

We know better now. As every child is an individual, any person who is not willing to adapt to meet their needs should not be in a classroom. And I mean this in the loosest sense. We did not expect miracles in a room with 28 other kids. We just expected her to SEE him. To encourage him. And in any sense she felt unable to teach him, to ask for help.

You should not have been chastised for knowing a thing. Alex should not have had to know how it felt to be resented to that degree at six. The education system leaves lots to be desired. So glad all the funding is being cut this year. Smh.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store