In general, I like the Kishis as a family. They always seemed to eat delicious family dinners together, and there are some nice moments, like when Claudia and her dad are doing yardwork together in The Mystery at Claudia’s House. But there is one thing that really bugs me, and it’s their attitude toward Claudia and her schoolwork.
Not that they threaten to make her drop out of the Baby-Sitters Club. Frankly, I think they should have; it ate up an enormous amount of time. The whole being-held-back/going-back-to-eighth-grade thing was on SMS’s shoulders. But the fact that they let her struggle so long in school without doing anything except sometimes making her go to the Resource Room and having her family help her with her homework. They do finally get her a tutor in Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout, but it’s too little, too late. Stamford Alternative Academy was a great place for her academically, but I understand why they pulled her out when it made her miserable.
It is just so strange to me that the series emphasizes that Claudia doesn’t have a learning disorder, that she is of above-average intelligence, and that she is just lazy. Yes, Claudia doesn’t have dyslexia. But her problems at school could easily fall under Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, if nothing else:
May have difficulty forming a plan for their writing
May read at a slower pace than peers
May rely entirely on auditory information from class
May have difficulty organizing or synthesizing information from text
May demonstrate poor comprehension of written materials
May be reluctant to participate or read out loud in class
May have difficulty picturing mechanical processes or concepts
May lose track of time easily
May be unable to do mental math
May have difficulty identifying the critical information for solving word problems
May have difficulty visualizing patterns
May have difficulty performing steps in proper order
May have difficulty understanding spatial concepts
May have difficulty drawing or understanding diagrams
May have difficulty understanding and applying math vocabulary
My brother has a learning disorder, and he underwent a lot of testing in the second grade and then we had a Occupational Therapist come to our house every week. He went to our school’s equivalent of the Resource Room in middle school. I don’t see how in the world the Kishis didn’t do more for Claudia and didn’t have her undergo testing to figure out what exactly is going on with her, and what can be done to give her the tools to make school easier for her. I would think that it would be their main priority, and that they would do all they could to help her.
The other thing I don’t understand is why the series was so insistent that Claudia didn’t have a learning disorder and that she was just an underachiever. I feel like the series missed a big chance to discuss this issue, which I am sure many of the BSC’s readers were going through at the time, in a way that is more substantial than Buddy Barrett or Shea Rodowsky having dyslexia. Then her Chapter 2 could invoke that instead of “LOL no one can read Claudia’s notebook entries.”
I think this may be the decision made in the series that I understand least of all. Anybody can see that the way Claudia was spelling in eighth grade was normal, and when they showed her thought process in school, I feel like it was even written like she has a learning disorder. Claudia isn’t even actually written as a lazy student; she is written as a student who is struggling and not getting the support she needs. If I could change something about the series, this would be it.