I had a phone call yesterday from a young mother whom I know fairly well expressing concern about her 5th grade son. I also know the son and have had occasions to relate to him, to observe him in different situations so I am not without some hard data. Fifth grade boys are an anomaly to start with because they are on the precipice of adolescence. Hank Pellissier, in what I regard as a brilliant article, refers to the 5th grade as “a savagely swirling frog pond….” https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/fifth-grader-brain-development/
I listened carefully to the mother, one who like many others, cares deeply for her son and wants only what’s in his best interests. The problem is, for numerous reasons, some of which will become apparent here, Sam doesn’t always fit it. And therein lies the rub. Many schools want kids to fit in, to follow the norms set for the majority, and they still tend to treat kids in a wholesale fashion and offer the one size should fit all. Some of that is not the school’s fault, it can also be laid at the feet of an average teacher trying to cope with above average kids. Here’s the letter I wrote to the mother:
Both of my boys were “different” from the norm when they were very young, each also different from the other. We always tried to find the “right” school, the “best” teachers and each of them, after several years that included some struggles, was successful against the odds. They did not conform to the group, they had their own opinions, saw things differently and were often on the edge which was sometimes uncomfortable but we tried to be sure that they had all the support and encouragement we could provide. Punishment was not acceptable, limits were. When they crossed a boundary, they lost privileges but it wasn’t extreme. They learned, they grew up, and they went their different ways. Each of them, I am sure, paid a price along the way but in the end they came out OK. They even had a few bumps as adults and have managed now with their own children to navigate those waters rather well. I am proud of them and their sister for all that they have accomplished.