On Monday one of my students came in halfway through the morning. “I thought it was spring break starting today,” explained his always-harried mother.
“Oh, no,” I said. “That doesn’t start until next week. It was in the newsletter I sent home on Friday, and it’s in my monthly calendar.”
And then it dawned on me that this was the third time I had reminded her that all the school dates she needs to know are in my weekly newsletter. Maybe she isn’t disorganized, I thought….maybe she can’t read.
The week previous, a mom had come to school with some formal papers for her to sign so that her son can get speech therapy at school. The speech therapist and I had been waiting all week for those papers to come back to school. When she came in last Friday, she was holding the papers.
“I’m just kind of confused,” she said. “Could you explain this to me?”
I ended up going page by page, summarizing each one and explaining the process to her. It occurred to me that perhaps she couldn’t read them. She is very young — had her first child (the one in my class) at 15, and has had two more since then.
I’ve talked to the social worker, and she will call both moms and ask how things are going, and are they happy with the way they get information from the school? I’m not sure what else to do, except call those mothers personally when there are things they really need to know.
As a book lover, though, I think it is indescribably sad.
Update — April 3.
I’m rethinking my position on the first mother. I’m maybe back to thinking she’s just really disorganized. Yesterday she told me that her son has been using our special words, and that he had said “disappointed” at least five times over the weekend. (She was grinning with exasperation.) I don’t remember talking to her about the words, which means she read the letter with the list of the three words. Maybe.