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Fayette-Mom: First grade troubles

Posted August 30, 2010

Jennifer Joyner

We’re only a few days into the new school year, and I already feel overwhelmed!

My daughter Emma had no trouble in kindergarten. She loved her teachers, loved her class. I suppose I was lulled into thinking this “big kid school” stuff was easy.

Now that she’s started first grade, however, she’s having some trouble. She says she’s tired. She says school is boring. She asks to stay home.

Of course, I tell her we don’t stay home just because we are tired; school is her job and I expect her to go and do her best. My husband and I have presented a solid, tough love stance, but honestly, I’m looking for answers. She says she loves her teacher. She has some friends in her class. What could possibly be the problem?

I may have gotten a clue the other day. Emma told me she only wanted to go to school for “lunch, recess and resources”. That translates to: she doesn’t want to do the school work in her classroom. And I’m already having trouble with her sitting down to do her homework. Could my child hate school already? In first grade?

I’m hoping it’s just back-to-school jitters. If not, it’s going to be a long 12 more years!

Jennifer is the mom of a five- and six-year-old. She gathers news for WRAL in Fayetteville and anchors two morning radio newscasts. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," will come out Wednesday from Globe Pequot Press. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.



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  • play4god Aug 31, 2010

    When my "now 2nd grader" came home from the first day of 1st grade I couldn't get him to talk at all. All he would say was it was OK. It took me all evening and finally when I was putting him to bed he confessed that 1st grade just wasn't fun. I told him it would get better and that you still have fun in 1st grade. It's just a different kind of fun. He had the best teacher and they had a very fun year!
    This first couple of weeks is a lot of learning routines and expectations and assessments. If she still hates it in another couple of weeks I would start digging deeper.

  • lilypony Aug 31, 2010

    What I've noticed is that in preschool, teachers stress so much to the kids that that kindergarten is big kid school and it's not all fun and games. If they were in a quality preschool, chances are that kindergarten will actually be extremely similar just harder. So they get this big build up about going into the "real world" and it's not a big deal. They let their guard down, get thinking that's what school is about, and get blown away because first grade is that "real world" that their preschool teachers warned them about. It's work. And lets face it, no matter what we try to instill in them, we all know that work stinks! Even when we love our jobs, it's still work and most of us gripe about going in every day. We get over it and so do the first graders.

  • Apex Man Aug 31, 2010

    Have her eyes checked to see if the problem could be tat she has a probelm seeing and therefor maybe just doesn't want to do school work.

  • Timetogo Aug 31, 2010

    My daughter was home-schooled until 2nd grade and I took her as far and fast as she would absorb. She loved reading and would walk around with advanced books, figuring out the sentences to read to me. This was great until I went to work and she went to public school where she became bored having to wait for other students to finish their assignments before she was allowed to move on to something new. The days where students were put into classes according to their abilities are sorely missed!

  • kewlmom Aug 31, 2010

    My youngest loved Kindergarten, had a tough time in 1st grade, and HATED 2nd grade. We went to his pediatrician, and he gave us behavioral questionaires to fill out both by the parents and the teacher. Boy was I amazed at what I had attributed to him being a boy that were actually signs of ADHD. Once he started concerta, school was a whole new experience. He is now in 7th grade, and does ok in school. I think with puberty hitting, we might need to up his meds. I think getting him identified early helped ward off negative feelings toward school.

  • thecatsmeow67 Aug 31, 2010

    My daughter loved kindergarten but wasn't so hot on 1st grade either. She had problems in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. She was diagnosed with ADHD this past Feb. and she absolutley loves school now. I am not saying that is what is going on with your daughter but that is what was going on with mine.

  • jessicaehamilton Aug 31, 2010

    My 1st grader, Emma, is having a tough time with the new school year, too. She complains about the workload and homework. Kindergarten was a lot more play and she was spoiled by an amazing teacher. I would love to see the advice from other moms to help with my family, too. I am hoping that this is a transition issue and she will get used to the new routine and rules and adjust. Good luck. I can't believe we are already having school issues this early.

  • Killian Aug 31, 2010

    Could your daughter be bored? Some kids who are advanced find themselves bored by the forced pace of slower learners (not their fault, just a fact!). These are the kids who wind up trying to "help" their peers, or inadvertently causing issues in the classroom and are labeled "problem" kids. And yes, I do speak from personal experience. Now, the solution for -me- was to skip me up a grade, and I settled down with no problem. I realize that NC schools are notorious for their refusal to consider this as an option.

    Could you speak to the teacher and ask her perspective? Ask what -she- sees from your daughter during the day. Is her work finished before everyone else? Is she peer tutoring her friends even when the teacher may not want her to do so? Is she doing other things during class? All of these can point to an advanced learner who has nothing better to do. And really, can you blame her?

    I would try some real detailed questions to get better answers, and a meeting too.

  • kellypratz Aug 31, 2010

    My daughter loved kindergarten but when she went onto 1st grade she must have told me about everyday how much she hated school and didn't want to go. I realized the problem, it was her teacher. She didn't care for her teacher and I think the teacher makes a HUGE impression on your child and how well they progress. She loved doing school work but it was tougher for her to deal with her teacher. My daughter's 2nd grade teacher she loved and did great in school. She has started 3rd grade and said she loves her teacher so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm sure your daughter is going thru a phase and once she gets into the routine will love school. Good Luck.