Ask the Teacher

My second grade daughter does not have a best friend at school. She seems to like school well enough, but she doesn’t show particular interest in any one person or ask to have anyone over. Should I be concerned?

Provided that your daughter has friends at school, don’t worry about her not having a “best” friend. Perhaps she takes greater pleasure in having a larger group of friends for recess play and lunch company. Some of the less desirable characteristics of girls’ friendships can start at a very young age. By getting to know many different girls, she will have options that keep her from feeling isolated when a “best friend” does not want to spend time with her. And by seeing how many different people treat others, she will develop a better sense of the kind of friend she wants to be.

Your daughter may not feel drawn to an intense school friendship if she is close with a sibling or cousins. Strong bonds with family members that have developed throughout her lifetime may give her such a sense of love and security that she doesn’t see the point or feel the need to develop deep friendships at school.

You can nurture the idea of building strong friendships by inviting a few classmates for playdates rather than focusing on one person in particular. Having a small cluster of children together will give you a good sense of how your daughter interacts in the group as you observe her firsthand. This can give you the opportunity to talk through situations you overhear, chat about the feelings of others as well as her own feelings in various scenarios, and discuss who she might like to spend more time with.

Every year at this time, my daughter’s grades tend to drop and I’m not sure why. It seems like teachers go through material so much faster the second half of the year – why is this?

February and March are the toughest months of the school year for many students. A teacher works to set the foundation for success early in the year. As the school year moves past the mid-point, expectations are raised with an eye on things wrapping up and on the year ahead – all in the context of what was accomplished in the earlier part of the year. It may be natural to expect that things would get easier as your daughter gets more accustomed to the teacher and her classroom. However, it is the teacher’s job to continually raise the bar of expectation so that learning happens in an increasingly challenging environment.

The mid-year slump may also be attributed to the winter doldrums. The excitement of a new teacher, different classmates and new information to learn has likely worn off and the end of the year is still months away. Perhaps you can help instill some excitement by doing some fun activities related to the topics your daughter is studying. Research some aspect of what she is learning together; greater understanding of any topic is often, in and of itself, motivational. Kindle a deeper incentive in your daughter’s success by helping her set small, attainable goals and then celebrating her progress. A greater perspective or a defined goal may spark the necessary motivation for your daughter to demonstrate greater commitment to her grades.

My son’s school tends to have indoor recess often during the harsh winter weather. When he comes home, he is bouncing off the walls. What can I do to help him burn off some of his extra energy?

Physical activity is such a necessary component of an elementary child’s day, and during the winter months it can be tough to get that in at school. There are several things you can do at home to provide the movement your son needs.

Playing outside after school is the best and easiest way to get some much needed exercise and fresh air. If the weather is not conducive to being outdoors, consider closing the garage door to allow your son to run around or even ride a bike without having to worry about being too loud or rambunctious. Or set up an obstacle course with trash cans for him to dribble a ball around.

If being inside works better for your family, time your son to see how many times he can go up and down the stairs in three minutes. Pretend to be his personal trainer and take him through a short exercise circuit. Put on some music and have a dance party. Play “Simon Says” using large motor movement as the directives. Any activity that gets him moving and having fun will work!

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]

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