No recap. Just go back and read the previous posts here, here, and here.
4th grade was better. He had a good teacher that year, a teacher we had been looking forward to him having because of what we knew about him from when his older brother had had the same teacher. He began to enjoy school and quit asking if he didn't have to go. Not that he was being challenged, but it was at least interesting. He also started 6th grade math that year, which was still too easy, but at least it wasn't depressingly easy.
Well, it wasn't depressingly easy at school, at any rate. At home was another story. See, going into middle school math meant a certain amount of homework to go along with it. Unnecessary homework. It's not that he hadn't already been having unnecessary homework (and I would argue that nearly all homework is unnecessary (in fact, I have)), but it had been relatively small amounts of unnecessary homework. 6th grade math stepped that up to levels that became depressing, because, again, it amounted to busy work for him, and he hated doing it. Because he hated doing it, it became a huge ordeal every fucking day. Every fucking day that has lasted for years. That year to this one, in fact.
This homework thing is part of the system that has failed not just my son but is failing pretty much all students in the United States, right now, and we refuse to give it up because, well, it's how we do things. If there's one thing Americans are good at it's taking something that is failing and doing it harder and more intensely and hoping for a better outcome. Homework is a system that has proven to be a failure and, yet, we just continue to give students more and more of it.
As an aside, my kids' school, many years ago, now, did actually take a look at homework and considered doing away with it. That's what the research shows: Homework should be so minimal as to be almost non-existent. Except reading. Reading should be assigned and promoted, because kids need to be reading. However, when it came down to it, the teachers couldn't agree to drop it. Why? Because assigning homework is what they knew.
So... He did better at school, but the homework he was having cancelled all of that out and, rather than his level of dislike for school going down, it just sort of simmered there at the same level. But, other than spending hours on homework every night, the year went well.
About a week before school started the next year, the year he would have been in 5th grade, we got a call: The school had just received back the results from the STAR test from his 4th grade year and he had, essentially, scored a 100% on it (like a 99.5% or something). He had always had high STAR test results, scores in the high 90s, which is why they had done an academic review in 3rd grade, but they couldn't ignore the 100, and they wanted to skip him to 6th grade. Of course, we said "yes."
I mean, of course, we said "yes." Along with the request to skip 5th grade was also an apology for not having listened to me about him for the last several years. Yeah, the principal said something to the effect of, "We should have listened to you. We're sorry. But we'd like to move him up to 6th grade this year." And, actually, they had to know right then because school was going to start in a week.
In hindsight, that was probably the wrong year to have done that. Not because he wasn't ready but because we had finally found a teacher he enjoyed, and he would have had the same teacher in 5th grade as he'd had in 4th grade. We did, briefly, consider that, that he would have to leave that teacher's class, but we figured it would be better to get him more closely aligned to where he was academically.
But the 6th grade teacher, as nice as she was and as much as he liked her, was not engaging in the way his 4th grade teacher had been, and it wasn't long before he'd moved back to being bored with school because nothing interesting was happening, and they weren't doing anything that he didn't already know. Not in the core classes, at any rate. There was some history he wasn't familiar with, but there was nothing in math, science, or English that he didn't already know.
There were two saving graces for him in 6th grade:
1. He was in the middle school musical production of Alice in Wonderland, and he discovered a love of musical theater.
2. I went in once a week to teach creative writing, which he loved. [I discovered that my son is a brilliant writer, which was a surprise. Not that it was a surprise, but just how brilliant was a surprise. At 10, his writing had a fullness to it that most high school students never achieve. It was way beyond what I was doing at 10, that's for sure.]
The problem with all of this is that once the perception becomes a belief, it's really hard to shake. My son's perception of school was that it was a waste of time, and, by the end of 6th grade, that had become a belief. A solid belief. He couldn't see a point in it and found nearly all of the work beneath him. But, still, he had a successful year in 6th grade and, probably, other parents would have been unconcerned with what was going on. People tend not to worry about their kids' performance at school when they're bringing in A's.