My Daughter's Story... - FamilyEducation
My Daughter's Story...
02/19/2008 at 12:05 PM

Good Morning.

First of all, I want to say that I've looked everywhere for a "place" like this and I hope I have finally found a “fit.”  Let me tell the story (abridged version, of course) of my daughter, Josie.  She is 7 (will be 8 next month, March) and is in first grade.  She started Kindergarten when she was 5 ½ at a small private school.  After 6 weeks, the school decided that she was not the right “material” and expelled her.  At that point, since I had not other option and not much time to figure anything else out, I placed her in the other small school in my county.  I live in a very small town in Tennessee.  Instead of placing her in the Kindergarten program, the school and I decided that she need “pre-K.”  She went through pre-K and Kindergarten at this school.  She was making some progress, but by the time Kindergarten graduation rolled around, the school felt that she would either need to repeat, again, or I needed to move her to another school that would offer special resources through the State.  My daughter is extremely ADHD/ADD.  She was also premature; slow at walking, talking, etc.  She is rather immature for her age.  I put her in one best public school that our county has to offer and she is doing awesome!  She is making such progress.  She is reading, not fluently, but still so much better than August of last year.  She is 7 now.  I had a meeting with her teacher last Friday and they are not in favor of sending her to second grade.  Although she is making progress, she is still not at “benchmark” as far as what she needs to be reading for second grade level.  As I mentioned, she will be 8 by the end of this school year.  I am very hesitant about repeating her, considering her age and size (she is a very tall, but skinny, child).  I also am hesitant about sending her on because I do realize that she is probably not ready.  I know I wrote a book, but I am a single mother (with no help at all) who desperately needs someone to talk to. 

Thanks, Kim


Kim, thanks for telling your story. I know that life is not easy when you have a child who has ADHD. Well done you for supporting her so well though.  I can't make any comments however or help about schooling as I live in Scotland and our systems are totally different. I just wanted to say hello and I know that you will get plenty of help from others on these message boards.


  Can you put off this decision until August?  I wonder if you can help her get up to speed on reading over the summer, and then you can make a decision just based on the maturity issue.  And I've noticed a lot of programs advertised that are supposed to help with ADD and other behavioral problems--haven't used any and don't work for any so I won't recommend one ;-)

  As far as helping her with her reading, taking turns reading aloud and talking over the story as you go is probably an unbeatable combination.  If you are able to spend the summer break reading--live at the library, you know?  Anything that either of you finds interesting. 


Hello.  I did ask about how long I had to make a decision and did ask about waiting.  I have an older child who I repeated when he was in first grade and didn't make that decision until the week before he started second grade.  Unfortunately, it was a different school.  This school will not let me wait until August.  I have to make a decision by May 1, which is about 9 weeks away.  My other option is to go ahead and have them promote her to 2nd grade; work with her all Summer and then see how it goes - with the upfront knowledge that I might have to hold her back in 2nd grade.  The school can't technically fail her b/c she is passing all of her subjects, except spelling and right now, she has a low 'D' in it.  So, basically, it is up to me.  Thanks for the advice.  I just feel like I'm drowning and nobody is throwing me a lifevest.  : )


So, go ahead and tell them when they ask that she will do second grade.  Then at the end of the summer you can change your mind if you need to.  Sometimes you just have to play their game.  I am putting my reading/writing/spelling program on as a separate post.  It has worked really well for the children I have used it with.  Along with this, I make wordstrips with sight words, work on them 5 or 10 words at a time.  For the sight words I use family names and titles like Mom, days of the week, numbers, colors, months, hometown and state, etc.  Once the child has learned the days of the week, I divide the sight words up into seven envelopes with the names of the weekdays on the outside, and practice the words on the designated day.


Copyright Gail Little Hanson, 2002

Please do not distribute this. If somebody wants it, they can find it here.

One lesson each school day. If the child wants to make words on a not-school day, that is fine, but don't teach any new letters. The child will make combinations that are not words. Try to pronounce them, and tell the child the words are not English words. If they are words in other languages that you recognize you can acknowledge that. Casa (Spanish for house) comes to mind. If the child makes words that are proper nouns, pronounce them, but do not teach upper case letters until all lower case are taught. If the child knows upper case already, the child can use them for proper nouns.

first lesson

Demonstrate the lower case letter c. Use the handwriting paper they use at school with the dotted line where the top of the lower case letters go. Have the child copy the c.

Repeat for e.

Repeat for a.

Have the child copy the word ace one l time, tell the child it says ace, let the child read it, end the lesson with specific praise like, "Your c is nice and round," or "You made your curves the right direction."


second lesson

Have the child write ace one time.

Demonstrate and have the child copy lower case letter o.

Repeat for d.

Repeat for s

Have the child copy code and sad. If the child is interested in doing more, the child may write words you can out of the letters a, c, d, e, o, and s. Be sure and point out if you make does that it is pronounced two different ways, like the plural of doe, and the whatever tense of do. With every lesson, Stop before the child gets tired of playing. End the lesson with specific praise about the formation of a couple of letters.


third lesson

Have the child write ace and sod, and another word that they wrote from lesson 2.


Have the child copy dog and cages. Put together a few other words. Stop while the child is interested, give specific praise.

4th lesson

Each lesson from now on, begin with the child writing three words you dictate from the words that the child has written previously. Demonstrate the new words for the child to copy.


ice, dig

Make up some words, quit, specific praise.

lesson 5

Dictate 3 review words


jig, jade

Make up words, quit, specific praise.

lesson 6

Dictate 3 review words


scald, gel

Make up words, quit, specific praise.

Lesson 7

Dictate 3 review words


bell, bead

Make up words, quit, specific praise.

Lesson 8

Dictate 3 review words


hog, bash

Make up words, quit, specific praise.

Lesson 9

Dictate 3 review words


hinge, gnash

Make up words, quit, specific praise.

Lesson 10

Dictate 3 review words


rush, barn

Continue the lessons, introducing one letter at a time, and using words that review recently taught letters.

Remember to demonstrate the example words for the child to copy.

11 - m men, roam; 12 - u murder, rung; 13 - queen, square;

14 - p quip, spring; 15 - t thumper, toast;

16 - f foot, laugh, lifted (I know that gh is not f, but this is a good place to teach this! Be sure to laugh about it.

Here is a story that only uses the letters already learned. You could illustrate it, read it together, dictate it. Have the child illustrate it and write captions, whatever--or not.

The sad gal sings in the jail. The ice cold bell dings. Ding, dong! The tugboat horn beeps. All this noise! Be quiet!

17 - k nook, knife; 18 - v kiva, vote; 19 w - whale, vow

20- oxbow, fix; 21 - z zebra, buzz 22 - y yes, jazzy

After you have taught all the lower case letters, use song titles to teach upper case letters, so you are teaching them in the correct context. It is hard to find a song with z as an initial letter in the title. Perhaps European cities would be a good alternative to song titles: Zagreb.


has your daughter been diagnosed with add? If so, this is considered a disability in a public school system . meaning, because she has been diagnosed with this condition, the school needs to accommodate her learning. She needs to have an active I.E.P. in place. With this she can advance to the second grade. She will be able to recieve extra help in the core subjects. A good L.D. teacher has the means and the knowledge to deal with kids with ADD. good luck! susan


Hi, it looks like you have had some good response to your questions.  I have a couple of ideas that you might try and couple of other things that you might think about.

   Things to try:  The purpose of reading is to have fun and learn things.  If you can help her see these things at home by reading yourself, reading for fun with the kids and showing the kids how reading helps you figure things out, this can help them be motivated to learn the mechanical skills of reading.

     In order to get our daughter to be able to focus on learning spelling words, we had her jump on one of the those little round trampoline things.   She jumped a lot just for fun, but did better with practicing spelling while jumping.    The other thing we had her do was sit on the floor , hold her knees and rock while learning her words.  Learning in motion seemed to help.  Or in the car where there wasn't much going on.

Things to think about- the school is probably really under pressure to have all kids meet the "benchmarks" because of the "no child left behind" rules.  All the kids have to show that they have learned certain things by certain times or the school gets a bad grade.   This is a big problem for kids, families, teachers and schools, because not all kids learn the same.      Does your school have after school help or summer services for kids who have some gaps in their skills.  Our district calls it "Targeted Services".   It is generally for kids that don't have IEP's.

  Good luck.




First a big THANKS to everybody!!  I'll try to answer the questions that were posed to me.  Josie (my daughter) was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when she was 5.  She has had an active IEP since then with it being updated several times since then as her needs/goals changed.  She is in the public school system now; my son is still in the private school.  She receives intervention, after school tutoring, specialized tests, one-on-one testing.  They also offer summer reading and she will go there 3 days a week during the course of the summer.  The school truly is a blessing and she is making such improvements.  I have decided to send her on...I just don't believe holding her back is what's best for her.  While I do agree with the school 100% as far as the academics/education, she is just way to old to repeat first grade.  I think that would be very damaging to my daughter.  She always has a very low self esteem and that would just make it worse.  She and I have started working on the Dolch sight words and we do that for about 20 minutes per night.  I was amazed at how well she did!!  And I told her so so many times!!  I believe that with me, the school and her being motivated, we can make it!! 

Thanks again for all of your advice.  And I have made many notes as to all the things to do and try with her to make learning a lot more fun. 



Hi Kim,

  It sounds like you have done your homework and made the best decision for you and your family.   Your daughter is lucky to have such a resourceful mom. 

   Best of luck,