Beaten Down

Unfortunately that’s how I think Zachary feels about school.  He keeps on keeping on, but he is run down and discouraged — just plain beaten down.  And I’m right there with him!

This has been a really tough year for him.  While he has always struggled academically, he has remained positive and mostly confident and has always loved school.  But this year has changed him.

He has had several very discouraging, very damaging experiences this year that I am praying he will be able to recover from . . . but I’m not convinced that he will ever fully recover from.

The biggest and worst experience occurred several months ago, but it has been too tender for me to put here.

In our district, throughout the year, the students take several practice TAKS tests, or mock TAKS tests.  The TAKS test is the looming state achievement test of Texas.  It is practically a cuss word in our house.  The test has darn-near destroyed my son and our family at times.  It is a really big deal.

Each time the students take these practice tests during the year, the teachers construct these bar graphs, displaying the grades of all the students in the class — no names are included, but, of course, the students all know who made what grade.  There is often comparison across the grade level on campus and even comparison by grade level across the district.

I have never been comfortable with their posting these grades for the whole class to see.  I remember several times Elliot made the highest grade in the class.  And he knew he had made the highest grade because the grades were posted in bar graph form on the bulletin board.  One time Elliot even knew he made the highest grade in the district.  I didn’t think that was okay.  I just see no reason for him to know that — not only does it put added pressure on him, but it also makes it hard for a kid to remain humble.  There is just no reason for him to ever know that he made the highest (or lowest) grade on any test!  Each time I saw the bar graphs of grades, I cringed inside because I just didn’t think it was right.

Well, this year Zachary failed one of his practice TAKS tests — not a new experience for him, but a terribly painful one each time.  And his failing  grade, like always, was put up on the bar graph.  But this particular test, there was ONLY ONE failing grade.  Yes, Zachary was the only student in his class to fail the test . . . and he knew he was the only student in his class to fail the test!

And the teacher had told the class that if everyone passed, then the class could have a special “no shoes, bring a snack” day.  He came to the car humiliated and heartbroken that he had ruined the special day for his whole class.  “It’s all my fault,” he kept saying through his tears.  “The special day is ruined all because of me!”

And a couple of the boys in his class had said, “Thanks a lot, Zach!”

Disappointing?  Humiliating?  Crushing?

Yes, it was a terrible day.  We cried some hard tears together that day.  And he still talks about that day and worries about that day and relives that day and talks about that day.  I have no doubt that that day will be one he remembers for the rest of his life — especially on days when he has a big test or a big presentation to do.

(I did have a conference with his teachers about that and Zachary’s scores have been removed from the bulletin boards from here on out.  But I don’t think I’m done with that battle yet.  Just last week, they took a practice test.  Zach passed it, but there was one failing grade, he told me.  That means some other child experienced what Zach did a few months ago.  That is NOT okay with me.)

Zach has been begging to homeschool.  He asks literally everyday if he can stay home from school.  He’s tired everyday.  He visits the nurses office several times a week.  He gets headaches and tummy aches.  He doesn’t care as much whether he succeeds or not.

It’s yucky.

And it makes me sad.  And it scares me.

I am not at all convinced that homeschool is the right answer for him.  But I think even if we accomplished NOTHING academic (which we, of course, would), then he could still benefit greatly simply from being removed from the stress and allowing me to encourage him and convince him again that he is good and smart.

Seeing how very different Zachary feels during Christmas break and last week during spring break, being away from the stress of school . . . it makes me long to bring him home so he can recover. . . and succeed.

Don’t know what we’ll decide to do.

Sigh.  Being a parent is never an easy task, is it?


10 responses to this post.

  1. That just breaks my heart! They should not put grades up in charts like that comparing the children against each other. It’s very degrading and humiliating to those who struggle. It’s not fair. It’s not the right thing for a teacher to do. But in support of homeschooling, it may be beneficial to him. He’d be able to get more help when needed and won’t have the stress and humiliation of those tests and there are TONS of homeschool groups in the area so he will still be able to have lots of interaction with kids his age. Homeschooling is not a bad thing. I know quite a few homeschooled kids who are mastering their subjects and excelling a lot better than they did in public school. It’s more hands on learning instead of lectures and worksheets. Some kids do better hands on. I know I do.


    • Hi, Laurie! Thanks so much for your comment. And thanks for your encouragement. I LOVE homeschooling. I actually homeschooled Elliot til he was in 3rd grade. I always thought I would homeschool all of my children all through school, but Chloe and Zippy’s needs forced me to think a little more open-mindedly about the whole picture. I’m certainly now a per-child, per-year sorta thinker on the decision to homeschool. I, like you, know a ton of families who homeschool very successfully. It is certainly an option for us . . . Thanks again for your encouragement! 🙂


  2. Wow. Gotta love our district. That’s outrageous! Sounds like you’ve got some big decisions on your hands. Praying for heavenly wisdom and guidance to come your way.


  3. Posted by victoria on March 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Yikes. That’s difficult. Sorry you’re going through this. I was homeschooled so I’m personally a big proponent of it. If Zachary is having such a difficult time, maybe it is your best option for a while. I’m glad to hear that you’re open to it at any rate!

    My husband and I don’t have kids yet but I know emotional distress is near the top of my list for reasons I might pull a child from school and start homeschooling. Perhaps all the stories coming out lately regarding bullying, depression and kids contemplating suicide have compounded in my mind. So sad and scary – I definitely feel for both the parents and kids in those emotionally damaging situations. Praying for your family!


    • Wow, Victoria. I appreciate your comment! Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. You sound like a wise and thoughtful woman! And I, of course, always appreciate any prayers our way! Bless you! 🙂


  4. Posted by Melissa Coco on March 31, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    WEll.. you know 🙂 hehe. Love you sweetie-you already know what I would say in this post


  5. Posted by Audrey on July 18, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    I have just come across your blog and love reading your posts. This one has brought memories of how our son felt when behavior was charted on the wall in his Kindergarten classroom. He was almost always the one who had the “worst color” a child could possibly have. And of course, each child’s name was on it. Very disheartening. Then at the end of his first grade year, he was diagnosed as having autism and the realization that the reasons (most of the time) he moved “colors” was something beyond his control.


    • Hi, Audrey. Thanks for reading and for commenting. What a sad, hurtful memory you have from your son’s Kindergarten. Sad. So sorry. And so glad that you were finally able to maybe find some answers. So many times the diagnosis leads to resources and helps and ideas . . . . I look forward to getting to know you better . . . . 🙂


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