My daughter doesn't want to do it anymore....

halfmoonJanuary 24, 2002

My first grader has a girl in her class *Ashley* who has vision problems. It's severe enough that this girl needs someone to bring her to the bathroom, to the nurse, etc. whenever she has to go since she can't see very well.

Since school started in September, my daughter has been chosen by her teacher (and I think, by Ashley herself) to be the "buddy". That means everytime Ashley needs to go somewhere outside of the classroom, my daughter has to accompany her. At first it was such a novelty for my daughter. She didn't mind doing it at all.

Lately though, she has been complaining to me that she's getting tired of doing it. I've been thinking of asking the teacher to choose another classmate to be the "buddy" but somehow I'm unsure if I should do it. Am I being unreasonable and lacking in compassion if I requested this?

In my last parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me that she gave my daughter this responsibility because she is smart and she feels she would be able to catch up right away if she missed certain things in the classroom. She also said my daughter knows her way around the school whereas some of the first graders don't even know where the nurse's office is. Last night my daughter said to me ," Mom, I'm sick and tired of doing it. I've been doing this for 5 months now. Why can't my teacher ask someone else to do it?"

What should I do? Should I ask the teacher to get someone else or should I just tell my daughter to be "kind" and just continue what she has been doing?

Thanks for any input.

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Since this little girl's vision problems are so severe that she requires help to get from place to place, then the school is obligated to provide a staff member to help her. Your daughter has been very kind to help her, but it isn't your daughter's responsibility.
It sounds like the school is trying to get away with not providing the child an aide, and is saving money by using your daughter instead. If I were you, I would tell the teacher that your daughter will no longer be missing class to help this girl, and I would probably also contact the girl's parents, to explain to them that your daughter likes the girl very much, but it is not in your child's best interest to miss class. Perhaps once the parents are aware of how much the school is depending on other children to assist their child, they may demand an aide which their daughter is entitled to.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 12:38PM
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By all means, please call the teacher. Your daughter has been more than kind and gone way beyond the call of duty for someone her age. I think it was wrong of the teacher to put the sole responsibility of another child on her in the first place. By now most of the other kids in the class should know where things are, maybe suggest having "buddy-duty" for a different child each week, each day, or something like that. Don't they have aides or volunteers in the school that could help also?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 12:40PM
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That sure sounds like an awful lot of responsibility to ask of a 1st grader. I would be very proud of your daughter for being so patient and kind for so long. I also agree with the idea of a weekly buddy. It's not fair to expect one child to take on such a large responsibility as this. I also agree that the school should have an aide to help, but I don't know that they would neccessarily do that. I would definately talk to the teacher and get something changed.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 12:47PM
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I don't know why they do this! This is way too much responsibility for one little first grader. The school is obligated to supply this child with aide but not at the expense of another child. Perhaps this duty can be shared among several classmates, better yet an adult volunteer as suggested above.

The vision impaired child probably has an IEP or 504 plan in place to assist her with school work, etc. Please start with the teacher to remedy this and then move on to the principal if it goes on. Your daughter sounds like a fabulous kid but this will definitely burn out her charitible inclinations in a hurry. Your daughter matters, too.

I have an ADHD son who has trouble remembering to do things. One year the teacher assigned him a "buddy" to help him remember to go the office for his meds, etc. It worked for about 2 days and these were 4th graders. The teacher never checked up to see that the buddy followed through. Yet she felt absolved of responsibility. Ticked me off!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 12:51PM
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Christine and Maui,

Thanks for responding. Yes, actually Ashley has an aide who helps her in the classroom with her schoolwork. I think the aide also goes around helping other kids with their schoolwork. I really don't understand why the aide does not go out of the classroom.

Well, I have thought about it and you're right, I will be calling the teacher and letting her know that my daughter will not do it anymore.

I think I just needed one person to tell me that it's not an unreasonable request. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 12:55PM
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Oh Alice and browntoes, I didn't see your replies.

Now I have 4 parents backing me up! THANKS!!

I am doing it RIGHT NOW!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 12:58PM
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I think it's reasonable to ask you DD's teacher to share the responsibility for this girl with other students/her aid/volunteers. My guess is that the teacher thought she was fostering a friendship between your DD and the other girl and because your daughter is so nice and helpful she was the most likely candidate. You really can't force a friendship however and she put everyone involved in an awkward position.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 1:41PM
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Talk to the teacher and talk to, and listen to your daughter. The important thing is not whether in an objective sense, it's a lot of responsibility so much as whether your daughter feels like it is a lot of responsibility or burdensome to her.

One way people have had success with different 'buddying' systems for support has been to have alternating designated 'buddies.' The people defined as 'buddies' (your daughter's present duties and position) should have defined limited terms so that they can have breaks. The child who needs the support can gain experience interacting with others too. It can be a very positive experience for the whole class as well as an excellent way to build a sense of 'community' among people/students.

It's true that in a literal sense, people can't 'be their brother's keeper' but it is also true that some people are just uncommonly gifted in different areas in ways that allow them to be able to help others. Helping others who require help basically helps out the whole group (in the smaller sense of the whole class, or even your daughter and the girl with the vision problems; or in the larger sense of all of humanity).

People in your daughter's position might well be gifted enough to theoretically be able to perform naturally well as a 'buddy.' That shouldn't be allowed to cloud the fact of her age and developmental stage, and the fact that she has needs too. She should have a limited, defined role as a 'buddy' and it probably would be better for _everyone_ involved to have a system that allows for rotating 'buddies.' The problem for the teacher then is to figure out if they can, and how they can (all the rest of the class) be included. Some children may not be able to perform as well, or might need 'buddy training' or something to be able to do even minimally well. The teacher should be informed that your daughter sounds like she's feeling 'burnt out' over this chore.

You can listen to your daughter. You can share your own experiences of when you had to perform something similar (caregiving?, aid?, and there was seemingly no end to this role). If you've had that kind of experience you can give her tips and encouragement. Does she think that there are other students in the class who could do a good job and work well with the girl who has vision problems? Would a rotation schedule where the different student 'buddies' had limited terms of duty help for her? (You can ask her those kinds of questions).

it's really hard to maintain motivation and anything like a positive attitude when it feels like a 'duty' is only a chore and like one person has been singled out to bear the load so to speak (take time to say out loud how appreciative you are about how she does things, and how she's been able to work in a caregiving sort of capacity like that... some adults are more or less incapable of functioning in that capacity at all; she's probably an extraordinary first grader)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 2:04PM
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Looks unanimous. I agree. Not only is this too much to ask of your daughter, I don't think it's healthy for the other little girl to become dependent on one child. And I think that sharing this responsibility among other students in the classroom would create a stronger sense of caring and community among all of them.

I think it's in the best interest of every child in the classroom for others to help her as well. It's halfway through the year, surely the other kids know their way around by now. If I were the other child's mother, I wouldn't want her to depend on one child for help. If they aren't in the same class next year, it would be hard for her to adjust. If they are in the same class again, the dependency would grow out of control.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2002 at 2:48PM
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I think that this little blind girl is offering a very valuable lesson... one that should be shared with several children, not just your DD. Although I agree that this is too much of a responsibility for one child, I do not think that first grade is too early to learn about helping others. I am sure that your DD felt special at being chosen, and that she experienced that wonderful feeling we get from helping others. But if she is asked to do it for too long, these feelings will be replaced with irritation or even resentment. I think the teacher should come up with a way for every willing student to be given a few days as Ashley's buddy.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2002 at 2:16AM
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I'm going with the majority on this one. My grandmother lost her vision, and I learned a great deal helping her -- but it was a job that was taxing for the adult members of my family. It's simply to much to ask of a child.

Learning to be compassionate and accepting of others who have differences and disabilities is the real lesson here, for 1st graders. It sounds like your daughter has that, but if she's forced to continue to be the sole helper, then she may not retain it. It would be too easy for her goodwill to turn to resentment.

And first graders do not have the skills or training to properly handle the needs of another student with a disability. Having other kids work with the girl, sit with her, even help her with activities is fine -- I would completely support that because it would foster friendships and acceptance. However, the school and the teacher are creating a potentially dangerous situation (for that girl, your daughter, or another student) by forcing 6-year olds to act as an aide. They should live up to their responsibilities and either provide another aide or make sure the current one fufills her full responsibilities with respect to your daughter's classmate.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2002 at 10:04AM
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Since the girl already has an aide it seems ridiculous for the teacher to have your daughter leave class to walk the girl places, even if she is smart and can catch up on any work she misses quickly. Your daughter shouldn't be doing the aide's job. My daughter had an aide in school last year, and even though the aide did help out with other kids sometimes, her first responsibility was to my daughter.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2002 at 10:34AM
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I'm going through the same thing right now with DS (gr 4). He's been helping a boy in his class who struggles with every aspect of school. My DS is at the high end. DS didn't mind helping this boy who really needed it but now it's become too much. All his teachers seat them together and now the boy won't leave his side at recess and lunch. DS likes the boy but wants to spend time with his other friends too and wants to be able to quietly read when it's silent reading time without have to help this boy read his book. I think he still wouldn't mind helping him a bit but it's as if he's this child's educational aide. I'm calling the school on Monday to request that DS be able to sit elsewhere and be relieved of this responsibility. have my support too!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2002 at 8:09AM
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The little girl should be in Special ED, for crying out loud. Your daughter shouldnÂft have to be the in school babysitter. No child should have to be for that matter. We send our children to school to learn, not to be teacher aids. The schools get funding for this kind of thing. Tell the teacher that at your next parent conference. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Dr. Mom. This is a 5-1/2 year old post. I suspect the issue has been resolved by now.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 1:44PM
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Your comments are insensitive and uninformed Dr Mom. They no longer 'warehouse' kids with differences -- or at least, not if they're in compliance with the federal laws governing special ed. Just because she can't see well doesn't meen she is intellectually incapable, needs 'babysitting', or doesn't need friends her own age.

According to the laws of human decency and the federal government, this little girl is entitled to be educated alongside her non-disabled peers. A slightly different 'rotating buddy system' using 5-10 kids would have been SO much better, as it would have boosted the self-esteem of all of the little helpers PLUS helped the little girl with the vision problems meet new friends and interract in a more normal way. Teaching our children to be compassionate helpers, and also to realize that people with disabilities are just plain ordinary 'people' first is an important part of any education.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 5:18PM
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You go, sweeby! ((Old post or not))

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 8:35PM
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