So... had a parent-teacher conference with the Impossible Son's primary teacher today. It was interesting, and encouraging.
It was only supposed to be for 15 minutes, but... we ended up talking for 45! We talked about the Impossible Son's math problems at length, and I found that he's been rushing through his math assignments so he can read a book afterwards. While she's pleased to see him reading, she's not so pleased that he's rushing through his math, getting problems wrong, and not asking for help. He says nothing to her. Just finishes as quickly as possible and hands in it, then grabs his book and disappears into it.
Shades of his mother. Meaning me. Which means I know exactly what he's doing.
So, I told her, explaining yet again about the lack of trust in his teachers, and said, "It's not you personally. This started in second grade, with Mrs. Oblivious Teacher, who is now teaching fifth grade." I filled her in on what he had gone through, trotted out several of the math "explanations" she had given me, and followed up with what he had gotten in third and fourth grade, including the outside issues that were causing problems for him.
"Was he as lost as he seems to be now last year, too?" Mrs. S. asked me.
"Oh, yes," I replied. "I had Mrs. H. send home math homework, worksheets, whatever it took, to tutor him through what was stumping him."
We went over what I've found so far that stumps him, showed her what he was doing and what I had done to correct it, and finished with, "I can't help him if I don't know what's going wrong, so please, please, please send home worksheets!"
About this time, a mouse made its presence known.
Not long after that, a second larger mouse made its presence known.
We spent the rest of our time with our feet up off the floor, keeping an eye out for the mice, and talking about the Impossible Son and what we could do to help him.
Somewhere in there, I found myself volunteering to tutor three of her students who are having difficulty with reading comprehension. They read beautifully, but have no memory whatsoever of what they've read. "Apparently, this is a skill they didn't learn back in second grade," she said grimly. "Nor have they been tested or had any sort of intervention recommended, so far as I can find out. And the parents are... not responding to any of my notes."
So... this should be fun. I'll start out twice a week, and depending on how things go, I may end up doing it more often, but we'll see. I figure getting them to break the stories down into smaller parts and asking them to tell me what they remember is a good place to start, and I'll expand from there.
The other advantage is that this gets me into the Impossible Son's classroom twice a week, so I can see what's going on and unobtrusively observe him in class.
Lastly, I also need to talk to his Language Arts teacher about why he's making a 75 in a class he normally makes 90's to 100's in. I mean, seriously, this is a kid who is reading at a 7th grade level! I mean, I have my suspicions, but... I'll wait until I talk to the teacher.
Tis a puzzlement!!