DEAR ABBY: You missed an important clue in the letter from "Must Choose in Maryland" (Nov. 30), who is considering moving to improve her daughter's school life. Abby, the child is only 7. She has been in public school for three years, so the private school where she "flourished" was PRESCHOOL.
Many children encounter problems when school becomes more difficult and grading is involved. Before moving and losing her "great job, wonderful friends and comfortable lifestyle," that mother should try more options.
"Must Choose" should consider having her daughter tested for learning disabilities or physical problems. She needs to work with her daughter's school and teachers, and maybe employ private tutoring or counseling to find methods that improve the way her daughter learns. It's possible that if they move, they will only take their problems with them. -- FORMER PRESCHOOL AND PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER
DEAR TEACHER: I appreciate your offering your insight. Many readers pointed out how important it is for this mother to be proactive during any transition in her child's life. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Most children are successful in school at age 4. Before uprooting her family, "Must Choose" should meet with the school's principal and teachers to determine exactly why her daughter "hates" school.
What criteria, other than her daughter's feelings, is she using as an indicator that the schools are awful? Test data, facilities, community support, teacher qualifications, etc. should be reviewed. Moving won't ensure a successful educational experience for her daughter. Understanding and dealing with what's at the root of the child's failure will. -- CAROL IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: "Must Choose" needs to examine her daughter's situation more carefully. In preschool, children generally learn social skills, with some introduction to letters and numbers. From kindergarten to second grade, classroom instruction in mathematical and reading skills carry expectations of mastery.
Comparing the enthusiasm and success of preschool to grade school achievements is like comparing apples to oranges. Her daughter may be exhibiting signs of learning disabilities much before second grade because children develop at different rates. It is when they begin to learn to read and do mathematical computations that these difficulties are recognized.
I encourage this mother to talk with her daughter's teacher. She may find an ally there who is as invested in her daughter's social and academic success as she is -- and not an enemy. -- JENNI IN WARRENTON, MO.
DEAR ABBY: If "Must Choose" keeps moving, a new group of educators will have to start from scratch to evaluate the issues. As a public school teacher in a diverse district, I often see parents run from the school rather than work to help their children succeed. That mother needs to work with the professional educators in her district to get to the bottom of her child's problems. -- OHIO TEACHER
DEAR ABBY: "Public" education should not automatically translate to "substandard." Good teachers in public or private schools encourage and support students at multiple stages of development.
"Must Choose" should spend time in her daughter's classroom to observe, volunteer and ask questions. If there's a problem, intervention needs to happen sooner rather than later. Open, honest and constructive feedback directed toward a solution is in order. -- EDUCATIONAL SOAPBOX, U.S.A.