“My Story…” Monday: A – Third Grade Math

(You can catch up on A’s story right here: The Pregnancy, The Birth, The Infancy, The Quiet Toddler, Advocating, What He COULD Do, Just A Boy, The (Hard) Next Step, Making a Friend, The Autism DiagnosisHe Talks, Hyperlexia, Your Baby Can Read, Another Evaluation, A New Kind of Special Need, Linear Algebra, The Triennial, The IQ Results, Bye, Bye Autism Diagnosis, Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?, My Gentle Giant)


I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the email from Dr. C.   I mean, I knew that A’s math skills were advanced and I knew that he was really enjoying second grade math on the days he was able to go.  But, still, he was only six.  He would just be going into first grade and he was still, in many ways, a typical little boy.


I should pause for a moment here and admit to you all that I live in a bit of a state of fear.  While we are so very fortunate to live in a school district that does an amazing job meeting kids where they’re at and providing appropriate programming, I’m worried about what that will ultimately mean for our son.  We’ve been told, already, that there is going to come a day when he will need to be taught via a computer-based math program.  Now, the program is an exceptional one (to be frank, the school district has to pay big bucks for it), but it’s still, well, a computer.  There are teachers involved, of course, and there’s even a professor availabe who will and does interact, but– as someone who always had a flesh and blood teacher in front of me– it feels strange to think about it.  “Strange” doesn’t mean bad.  But I know it’s going to be a huge mental adjustment for me when that day arrives.  And, I’ll give a little preview here and tell you– that day may not be too far away.


Anyway, I was a little nervous to see what Dr. C. was thinking would be best for our A.


I read her letter, copied to the principal, the second grade math teacher, the kindergarten teacher, and the assistant superintendent.  She wrote a lot about our kiddo, including the following:


“A’s math abilities include reading and solving multi-step (5 step) word problems that include logic as well as money solutions, patterns, geometrical shapes, money, graphs and charts, rounding numbers, estimating, writing number sentences, logic, math riddles, as well as all basic numerical calculations at or above a second grade level. He’s also right up there in his multiplication facts and knows fraction equivalences.  I have not checked his ability to divide, but  I did give him a grade 2 end of the year math assessment which he showed roughly 95% mastery of.”


She had conferred with Mrs. J. (the second grade math teacher he was working with) and she believed he had mastered all second grade skills in his brief couple of months with her.


The recommendation?


Rather than do the first grade math program, they were recommending that A. attend math with a third grade class.  


(Obviously a very old pic of A, but it makes me smile to think back on the journey we’ve taken together since those days!)


You would think that this would be a no-brainer.  That it would just be exciting to hear that your child’s advanced and that the school was taking that into account.  And it is.  But it’s also really hard.  Just like any parent making a major choice, I can be plagued with self-doubt.  

  • “What if he feels like he’s missing out in his class?”
  • “What if he doesn’t bond as much with his peers because he’ll be out of the room every day?”
  • “What if third grade math is too hard somehow and makes him feel inadequate?”
  • “What if the third graders don’t accept him and he’s an outcast?”
  • “What if the teachers have a hard time coordinating it and get frustrated?”
  • “What if it makes him feel weird?”
  • “And what in heaven’s name are we going to do next year since this school ends at third grade???”


Questions, questions, questions.


But the principal (who is wonderful and also fascinated with our son) was very receptive and cooperative.  We were on-board.  The first- and third-grade teachers agreed to work it out.


And so, at the start of this school year, our little boy began to going to school for full days for the first time ever.  He marched into a first grade classroom and had a whole lot of new things to get used to!  Just a few days later, he marched into a third grade classroom and became a part of their class, too.


We were all going to have a whole new groove to get into.

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9 comments to “My Story…” Monday: A – Third Grade Math

  • Celine

    I think that it is so wonderful that they were all on board with providing your son the challenging environment he needed to learn and grow. It’s great that they are trying to meet his needs on his level instead of trying to bring him to the same level as everyone else in his class.

    I know that wanting to make sure my daughter had the least restrictive environment and would not be overwhelmed or under challenged in school totally influenced the school choices we made.

    • Oh, I totally understand what you mean, Celine… that “least restrictive environment” is so very important. I am so thankful that more and more schools truly ARE recognizing the value in that, but you definitely have to be aware of what’s happening as the parent to make the best choice.

  • I had heard about A being in 3rd grade math, and I’m so excited for him and you. I hope it’s been going well. I think it’s wonderful when schools think outside the box and give kids what they need to learn and grow according to their unique gifts and talents. The “what if’s” can be troublesome, though. I have a lot of “what if” thoughts while homeschooling my kids. What if they turn out to be unsocialized wackos? What if I don’t teach them fast enough or slow enough? What if they get behind? What if they don’t learn how to work hard or meet deadlines or live according to a schedule? I guess we try to make the best informed, wisest decisions we can and be ready to rethink them if things aren’t working out. I’m interested to hear how A is doing in third grade math.

    • I’ll be sharing more about his math soon, Mandy. I actually think those “what if” questions are a sign of involved, caring parenting… as long as we don’t let ourselves get overwhelmed by them. No matter what choices we make, there will always be those “what ifs”. Thankfully, there are also the good ones: “What if this decision is what helps him succeed? What if our commitment to this builds his self-esteem? What if doing it this way is what enables him to discover his true calling?” :)

  • I went to school with a guy with a similar situation to A’s. We all admired him. He took math at the college, did AP Bio with us (he was 1-2 years younger) and got into MIT early, I’m sure. He was a very normal guy and we all just wanted to be as smart as Keith.

    I did beat him on our genetics test, though. He and the teacher were both shocked because I was horrible in class. But, genetics was fascinating to me. ;)

    • You crack me up. I can’t imagine you being horrible in any kind of class! Genetics really is a fascinating subject… T. is always referring back to “big B, little B” charts/odds since he has brown eyes and we have three blue-eyed kids. ;)

  • So yeah what to do when he needs higher than 3rd grade math and your school ends at 3rd grade. This school seems so amazing how can any other you deal with compare?

    • Well, the next school is in the same district, but we really are pretty blessed with the primary school we’ve got. If I’ve learned nothing else it’s that we just have to go year-by-year with this kiddo. :)

  • My husband is teaching those kids who were A in 1st grade … kids who have finished all the math the high school has to offer before they’re done with the school! I love that they hired him on to do that specifically. Hope you’ll have the best of luck continuing to find schools for him that suit his needs. (You can always send him to our school for high school! Heh. Or just move here.)

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