O that red frog

Kiddo#3 got moved to a red frog because: He refused to follow directions and complete his assignment, kicking the table and yelling.

Dear Mrs. KindergartenTeacher:

Kiddo#3 has negative feelings about his red frog, as you can see from the way he ripped it up.

Kiddo#3 said the situation unfolded this way: he was at a “center” doing the workbook for the letter U and wasn’t sure what to do because it was different from the books they’ve done for the other letters. “It had lines,” he said. He wasn’t sure what to put on the lines after coloring the pictures and circling the letter U.

He says he asked Mrs. Paraprofessional for help, “and she told me I had to do it myself.”

He says that is when he started kicking the table leg. I’m not clear when he started yelling.

Kiddo#3 says he does not know where you find a unicorn (neither do I, by the way — please let me know so I can go there!) and he did not know where to find an umbrella, which would be true in our household because we very rarely use them.

I’m at a loss for how to help Kiddo#3 avoid similar incidents in the future, since I would have told him to ask for help when he doesn’t understand an assignment, and Kiddo#3 believes Mrs. Paraprofessional refused to explain the assignment.

He did not refuse to do the work. He just didn’t know how.

What should we tell him to help him cope with similar problems in the future?



PS: I’m not including this on the letter, but what the heck kind of stupid assignment is “Where do you find a unicorn?” Any kid who knows what a unicorn is will also know that they don’t exist, and I don’t expect a five-year-old to be able to write “In my imagination.”

This child is always willing to do his school work, but if he can’t do it because he doesn’t understand it, he gets frustrated. As would any adult. I think it would have been a perfectly reasonable accommodation to my son if Mrs. Paraprofessional had said, “Oh, this line says Where do you find a unicorn? and it doesn’t matter what you write because there is no correct answer because it’s a stupid question.”

When a five year old tells you he can’t read the question and you tell him he has to decipher it anyhow, then why bother teaching him at all? Why not just hand the kids each a copy of Moby Dick and tell them to figure it out for themselves?

In short, YOU set up this situation yourselves, and although I think I said it nicely, my takeaway is that you created no way out for my son, and he tried to create his own way out.

Thank you for your time. I’d love to get a letter back.


  1. Mary Nicewarner

    Snicker! My daughter is in first grade and they use colored clothespins instead of frogs. She proudly informed me the other day that it only had to be moved twice [if it gets moved 3 times a note goes home]. And here I was thinking that she’s been a perfect angel in school 😉 Kiddo #3’s frustration level must have been skyhigh, mine would have been. The schools do some pretty silly things nowadays.

  2. Ken Rolph

    Uncorns are found in forests. Specifically the forests of central Europe. But another valid answer would be “in fairy tales”. Or perhaps “in Harry Potter”. Since America contains everything, there is no doubt a sporting team called the Unicorns, so another possible answer would be “in Unicorn Stadium”.

    Apparently open ended questions are always the tricky ones. You have to make a choice of whether to try to discern the expected answer or whether to use it as a base for your own invention. Or perhaps knowing when it is appropriate to use either approach. Schools can be very tricky. Sometimes they want you to let your imagination fly. Sometimes they want you to land at a specific destination. I don’t think they always know when they are doing either, or really make clear when they are using different approaches.

    If an assignment is one where you have to “do it youself”, you should have confidence to come up with your own answer. But you can’t always guarantee that this is what “they” want. It’s not really a solvable problem.

    And at 5 it’s far too young for you to say about school, “it’ll be over soon”.

  3. Ms. Heather aka ScribbleQueen

    I think sometimes teachers forget that each child is an individual and some of those individuals have different needs than the majority. I have such a child (on every level :S).

    Unfortunately, I have no idea what to tell the teacher. As it is, I’ve had to stifle my… verbal toiletry… so to speak, when it comes to my opinions of certain teachers/teaching styles.

    Good luck!

  4. cricketB

    I suspect the page is the same formula as every other page in the book, and they grabbed the first objects / animals they could think of. Be prepared for V,W,X,Y and Z. He probably knows where to find violins and violets, no clue what they’ll use for W, better find or make a xylophone, uncover Big Brother’s yoyo, and check that his snowsuit has a zipper.

    Better yet, package them all up so he can bring them in. They’ll love you for teaching him to be pro-active and prepared.

  5. Ivy

    Schools aren’t much good for learning. I have one friend who was a teacher who would tell his students that we stick to the ground, not via gravity, but via magnetism. See the iron in our blood is attracted to the iron in the earth’s core.

    I had a writing teacher–the head of the creative writing department–explain how one must avoid an excessive use of the word “said”. He’d ding points for using it to much. To him, great prose read like this:

    “I am not afraid of you,” she proclaimed, lifting her chin.
    The vampire looked down at her. “You know, you should be,” he advised. “You live by my tolerance alone, and will die should it please me.”
    “And you can cut the macho attitude,” she declared. “I saw you feeding that stray kitten last night.”
    “The better to fatten it up before I feast,” he objected.

    Took me years to learn why said-bookisms were crap.

    John had to take a class recently on safety in the workplace (he’s an electrician) and the question came up on a standardized test — “You walk into a room and see a coworker unconscious on the floor. What’s the first thing you do?” He answered “Make certain the person isn’t in contact with live voltage.” One of his classmates answered “Call 911”, which is what the Red Cross advises. The “right” answer? “Start CPR.” When one of the students pointed out that you should never touch someone who might be conducting a live current, that you’re always to call for help first, and that you don’t want to perform CPR on someone who is breathing on their own, the teacher could only reply “but that’s what’s in the answer booklet”. I could believe there is some standard answer to “where do you find unicorns” like “In a Peter S. Beagle novel” that the children must divine.

    I had a teacher tell me that nothing ever happened in Africa that didn’t happen in the novel, Joys of Motherhood. When a student asked about Apartheid, the teacher said it wasn’t in the novel, so never happened in Africa.

    I had a teacher tell me all the poets died out long ago. No one writes poetry anymore. Maxine Kumin was our poet laureate then, and I wonder what he thought she was awarded that post for. Raising horses?

    If you’re lucky, you get out of school in a position to actually start learning. For now, the answer to every “where do you find” question is “in the answer book”.