NOT MY KID by Christine Hughes

I’m going to let Christine slide on the recipes, since this post touched a nerve deep inside.  My husband was a teacher in Southern California for over thirty years and dealt with far too many uninvolved parents.  For that matter most of our friends in SoCal were teachers and I just spent a weekend with them.  All of them would have revelled in knowing a parent like Christine.  So grab your favorite beverage (I’m drinking Sorrento coffee and contemplating breakfast) and enjoy.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a wonderful crustless quiche recipe I picked up this last weekend.

Take it away Christine.

Mom, Teacher and a Bowl of Cheerios – NOT MY KID!

Hey Mona! Thank you for having me! I’ve been wracking my brain figuring out what to share and since the topic of my son’s schoolwork is in the forefront of my head this past year, I felt maybe I could ramble a small “lecture” for those of us who may need it.

I was an English major in college. I taught English to students from 6th grade to 10th grade. I love to read. I love to write. I love to talk about books, I love to touch books and I love the fact I’ve written one about to be published. So with all this love of reading and writing, can you imagine how shocked I was when I found out that my first grader wasn’t progressing, as he should in those areas?

I had three reactions to his reading level when he started first grade. The first, I am ashamed to admit, was my selfish response – What are you talking about? He has to be good at it because I am (not my finest mom moment, I assure you so you can close your mouths now.) The second was my mom response – Not my child! Omygosh! Is going to stay back? (again, not a great response) My third response, and actually the most helpful, was my teacher response – What can we do? How can I help him? What methods are you using to gauge his level? And with that I called everyone I could at the school, my old teaching buddies, and set up meetings with whoever could help us.

As a teacher, I should have known that boys often progress in reading later than girls. I was able to see the light when I put my teacher hat on. Having been on the other side of the desk, I was familiar with a number of the strategies teachers use to increase reading flow and continuity. I was also familiar with many of the tools available in public schools – I was aware of my rights as a parent, the rights of my son’s teacher and approach what seemed like doom and gloom in a more positive manner.

My husband and I set up our kitchen with bulletin boards and white boards and got down to business. I knew everything we did needed to be as straightforward as we could make it. My son isn’t a fan of arts and crafts and all that so whatever we did to help him needed to be as logical as it could be. And as soon as I calmed down, lineated my thinking and focused, he grew less anxious and homework started being fun and you know what? Based on the methods used in his school, his ability to comprehend and his measure of fluency have increased by 14 points! (That’s phenomenal, by the way) So everyday we do homework, we celebrate the end of the “lesson” with a bowl of cereal complete with the spoon clinking “cheers” he loves.

I think my rambling point is that, as parents, we often look for who is to blame in terms of our child’s education. But remember, a teacher follows a prescribed curriculum and in this day and age of “teach to the test”, differentiated instruction is difficult.  Maybe if we all could wear a teacher hat for the day and realize that blaming instead of finding solutions is counterproductive. Because while we all respond with “not my kid!” we all need to realize that, “yeah, my kid” might be the truth.

Thanks Christine for the reminder–I don’t have children but I’ve had the “not MINE” reaction when my dog is the only one to “mark” the obstacles in Obedience.  Oops.  Christine’s “Torn” is coming out from Black Opal Books

MORE ABOUT CHRISTINE: A former Army brat, Christine Hughes moved quite often. She spent much of her time losing herself in books and creating stories about many of the people she’d met. Falling in love with literature was easy for her and she majored in English while attending college in New Jersey.

Not sure where her love of reading and writing fit, she became a middle school English teacher. After nine years of teaching others to appreciate literature, she decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. Now at home focusing on making writing her new career, she spends her time creating characters and plot points instead of grading papers.

Music has become an integral part of her writing process and without the proper play list, Hughes finds the words don’t flow. At least a few times a week she can be found at the local Barnes & Noble with her Mac and headphones working on her next novel. Her YA novel Torn will be released by Black Opal Books in June 2012.

3 Interesting Facts: 1. I  attended 13 different schools, including college, due to my family’s military relocations. 2.     I met my husband when I was 14. 3.     My favorite book of all time is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.


When Samantha’s father dies and she finds out he was an angel because of what he was protecting, she must join the fight between two groups of fallen angels, the Faithful and the Exiled, in a race to save humanity. In spite of the unforgivable betrayal of her best friend, the newly acknowledged love for her guardian angel, the face to face confrontation of the dark angel who killed her father and the growing need to allow darkness to take over her being, Samantha has been charged making the choice between fighting alongside the Faithful or succumbing to the darkness of the Exiled.



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10 responses to “NOT MY KID by Christine Hughes

  1. lrwight09

    I love this post! I, too, have a child who has progressed slower than I thought she should. I never struggled in reading but my daughter does. Fortunately, my mother (who was an educator for over 30 years) was around and gave me pointers on how to help her. Since then, she’s improved in spades.


  2. Way to go, Christine! I have two boys and I’ve come to realize over the years I have one child who takes after his dad where now all school work is easy and one who takes after me where you have to put in a 110% to make it work. Learning to tailor solutions to their personalities was a challenge but I know it will pay off as they make the trek through their education. I rely on my sisters, mom and friends who all come from educational backgrounds to help navigate me through the maze of what a parent can do to assist their kids. Huge kudos for all you’ve done for your son and finding a way to make it fun and successful.


  3. livrancourt

    Strong work, Christine! For grades 1 to 3 my son could have used extra support (until we got him in an accelerated program) but NO WAY could we get him to cooperate with our ideas. Kudos to you for coming up with a program that works, and that’s fun so he’s a willing participant.


  4. What a good message you’ve sent. Two of my three kids had no problem in school. My middle one, is the one that struggles. We worked with him and with help from some great teachers (yay teachers) he graduated HS and is now in college. He falls off the wagon now and then,but that’s part of his ‘life is a party’ personality, but all in all he’s doing well.

    Nice job,



  5. Wow! All I can say is that I’m on the other side of the spectrum. My older boy is gifted and he gets bored in school. He could read and write before he even started junior kindergarten and all of his teachers noticed that the first day. (Personally, I think they were scared that there’s nothing they could teach him.) I told his teacher do not hesitate to give him extra work if he starts to act out, he does it out of boredom. He can finish his work in a blink of an eye and you can’t expect a kid to sit still till others are still working at it. But he also rushes through, doesn’t take his time and doesn’t check his work. He’s just too confident his answers are all correct, and sometimes (on rare occasions) they are wrong.
    Now, his younger brother is nothing like him. Doesn’t show any interest in stories or learning letters or numbers so I may find myself pulling my hair out when he starts and having to deal with teachers. Thankfully, they both go to a catholic school and teachers there really do care. I heard some very scary tales of public school system and wouldn’t let my kids anywhere near there.


    • Oh, I forgot to mention that his penmanship is just awful and I mentioned this to the teacher and was floored by her answer. Apparently, they don’t do anything to correct it. It corrects itself over the time. Remember all those hours we spent writing the same letter on the page row after row, till it was perfect?


  6. I can relate with you on finding out a child isn’t progressing as expected. My granddaughter struggles with her reading, but she loves arts and crofts and is a lovely, sociable child.


  7. Left-Brained Business for Write-Brained People

    Wonderful post! We found out my daughter had auditory processing disorder when she was four–that was 20 years ago, and her diagnosis let me learn my husband had it, too (I just always thought he didn’t listen to me). Because she had a high IQ, she naturally learned to compensate for (and thus, hide) her LD, and most teachers didn’t know she had it unless we told them. I quit my corporate job and started my freelance writing business when she was in middle school because I needed to spend more time with her each day to cover schoolwork “told to her” in class that she didn’t get. Long story short, she’s now a college graduate, has always been an honors student, and knows her limits and how to work around them. Funny thing is, she’s fluent in five languages–has no problem catching auditory lessons in another language; just can’t get more than about 10% in English. We didn’t helicopter as parents, we just supported her and her teachers. It’s hard, I know, Christine, but the payoffs are fantastic.



  8. From Mona’s sis in law: “Thanks for the post. It is so true that we all want to say “that’s not My Kid!”, but the problem is that it is too often the case. Now, consider how many kids are out there that do not have a parent or parents who have a clue or give a damn about there kids.”
    She should know, she’s a special ed teacher!


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