Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parent-Teacher Conferences

The boys doing our community service on MLK day
Charlotte at dinner on Saturday- after singing "Let it Go" and before slithering like a snake on the floor of the restaurant

Yesterday Eric and I met with the kids' teachers for conferences.  I always get excited about them because usually the teachers talk up the kids and I leave feeling very positive about their growth and development.

We started with Charlotte's teacher, Miss Karen, who had nothing but wonderful things to say about our girl.  She said Charlotte does well everyday, and even though she is the youngest in the class, keeps up with activities and is right on target in her learning and skills.  She said Charlotte is a delight, so happy, and a lot of fun.  She complimented Charlotte's dancing (she has both my enthusiasm (a lot) and my rhythm (none)).  I am thrilled that Charlotte is doing so well and fitting in with kids who are a little bit older than she is.

The boys' conferences were less positive.  Not because there is anything wrong with the boys, although their teacher did harp on the issues that she noticed with them, but because she focused so little on what is great about them.  Her final note on Asher was, "Asher is a bright, well-behaved, observant child, who likes to be right and likes to be first.  We are working with him to be flexible when he doesn't get to be in line first or at an activity that is full.  We are also helping him with language that sounds kind and gentle so that he doesn't sound 'bossy' to other children."  I mean, really, she couldn't even make one whole sentence good things only?  The fact that Asher is bossy isn't news to us- he is completely bossy and we are always telling him to back off.  He can also be helpful, insightful, kind, thoughtful, caring, loving...  But no mention of any of that.  He has also made huge strides in his learning, his drawing, his knowledge of letters and numbers.  But she didn't mention that, either.

Benjamin is also doing well with learning, being a good friend and classmate, and participation.  She was stuck on his lack of eye contact during handshake time and said we should mention it to our pediatrician.  I said, "Are you telling me you think this is indicative of a bigger problem?" i.e. autism; and she kind of backed down and said every other kid in the class could do it but that she couldn't say if it meant anything more.  I am not concerned about Benjamin and autism- he is very social and does make eye contact when you talk to him.  He is definitely socially awkward, and we have been working with him on that, by drawing his attention to his behaviors and suggesting more socially acceptable ones.  Eric is socially uncomfortable, and my dad's social skills sometimes leave something to be desired as well, so it is understandable that social skills might be a struggle.  But it felt like she was making a mountain out of a molehill.  She also said maybe we should get Benjamin a speech evaluation.  I explained we've had several (a minimum of 3) and that he has never qualified for services.  I am figuring that when he gets to public school, he'll get speech in the school- he never says the "s" before a consonant at the beginning of a word, and he never says the "r" in the middle of a word.  It makes for a lot of laughs when he asks to wear an outfit that is "very gray."

Both boys know all their letters and numbers up to 10.  They know the sounds associated with letters and are beginning to read short words.  They follow the classroom rules without fail, they are good friends to their fellow classmates. I hear nothing but good things from everyone else at the school.  The conference left a bad taste in my mouth.  It's not like I expect a teacher to lie to me and only tell me wonderful things, especially if they aren't true, but I would have liked a little more balance in the report.  I am thinking about whether I will say something to the teacher to let her know how I feel, or if I will just let it go.  I do feel like my boys are well-prepared for kindergarten in the fall, and that is important.  They like school and are happy there, and that's important, too. I just wish their teacher saw a little more positive in them.

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