Is your child falling off the Curriculum Ship?

The Curriculum Ship  leaves dock in early September and starts steering its course until mid to late June, when it arrives at port somewhere on the other side of the ocean.

Not slowing down even when some passengers are falling off the side of the boat, the ship must go full steam ahead.

Marianne, age 9, is barely treading water while she watches the ship leave her behind, having fallen off the ship in early October.

Upset by what is happening in school, Marianna’s mom said, “This week they are reading science stories about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis,” she exclaims, “she can’t read or pronounce the word!!!! She has no idea what’s going on.  Yesterday she got a worksheet packet all  marked wrong. Marianne was beside herself, feeling horrible. How  does a 9-year-old deal with all this failure?”

Looking at the worksheet packet, I could feel my blood pressure rising. Beside “photosynthesis,” there were many other words on the page that Marianne could not read on her own.  Yet, that was what she was being asked to do.

Clearly she was in over her head and quite frustrated.

I tell the mom the work is simply too hard and that it was analogous to asking someone to lift 50 pound weights when they could only lift ten.

“I know,” she responded.  “It took her two hours to complete the worksheets last night and she still got an F along with those frown faces at the top of the sheet.”

I tell her, “It’s the Curriculum Ship. The message is swim harder if you want to keep up with the ship.”

Children face rough waters when they are not in the green zone (See last week’s post:  Green-Yellow-Red Zone)

The Curriculum Ship doesn’t bother to consider which passengers have fallen over board and need to be rescued.

The ship must reach the other side.

That is its mission.

Takeaway Point

The Curriculum Ship is tough to deal with.  Advocate where you can by having an open relationship with the teacher.  Point out where your child is in over their head.  Ask to cut back on the “frowny faces,”  especially when good effort is shown, as in the case with Marianne.

(There’s a lot more that can be said about this, but it’s a start.)

(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments:  

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2023,

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email

To receive future blog posts, register your email: