Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parent-Teacher Conferences

It's that time - first quarter report cards, and parent-teacher conferences (mandatory for first quarter in elementary school here). Joy of joys, I have laryngitis this week, and no voice, which has rendered me just a wee bit less articulate than usual. It was really good to get to meet both teachers, since we were out of town for the Open House when I would normally have met them.

A's (#2 son) conference came first. His teacher is really, really pleased with him. His SPED evaluator is astounded. We're delighted. A had his SPED evaluation nine months ago. At that time, he was entirely unable to write, or even color for more than a few seconds. He had poor muscle tone in his hands, and poor fine motor control (2-year delay). His academic tests showed below average to low average across the board, except for verbal fluency, which was above average. Except that he also had social speech problems and a speech impediment, so his vocabulary and grammar skills weren't exactly doing him much good.

Today? A has high-average to above-average academics across the board. In some things he's already past the goals for the end of kindergarten. He was the only child in his class to know what a sentence was and be able to create them on demand. He has started playing with other kids than his best friend (Side note: His best friend has been hospitalized for four days now with fever and abdominal pains. No diagnosis yet, exploratory surgery tonight, fingers crossed.) He's writing sentences with awkward, but legible handwriting. Essentially he's progressed almost a full academic year's worth in two months. Plus he's liking kindergarten a lot, so he's not failing to have fun while making all this progress. His teacher says he's "delightful" and "a great kid to work with".

S's conference was today. That also went well, though not as astoundingly good. Academically he's doing great - as always. His teacher told me about twenty times how astoundingly smart he is. I really wish there was a better way to respond to that. "I know." sounds so complacent, or smug. But really, he's been stellar academically since he was a baby, so it isn't a shocker to hear. Behavior has always been S's sticking point, but he does seem to be doing better this year. No tantrums at all, and only a couple of incidents of foot stomping or hiding under his desk. He continues to daydream (with accompanying noise-making) when bored, and he's very intolerant of mistakes by other kids when working in a group setting. His teacher wants him evaluated by one of their autistic-spectrum specialists in the classroom setting, to see if she has any suggestions. Like A (who's official diagnosis is autistic-spectrum disorder), nobody thinks he's actually autistic, but some of his behaviors are similar, so some of the same methods may help. I'm okay with that. I like the SPED system in this state and school district. Among other things, if the child "graduates" from the SPED system, they give you copies of everything, and then destroy the records. That way, all the information still exists, in case something recurrs, but the SPED categories don't follow your child forever.

Both teachers seem really nice, and both seem very fond of my kids. I think this is going to be a good school year.


Miss Chris said...

Oh, the parent-teacher conference. How much easier I have it as a parent than my parents did. I didn't "work up to my potential" in school and spent far too much time goofing off. Those conferences were a nightmare for me. My daughter's, on the other hand, great.

PerpetualBeginner said...

I know what you mean, miss chris. I didn't "work up to my potential" until I hit fifth grade. Though I always wondered just what "Outstanding Achievement", and "Needs to Work Harder" meant side by side on the same report card. Was I supposed to be working harder to achieve the same?

In fifth grade they put me in a classroom for problem students. My teacher terrified the bejeesus out of me, and I started putting in visible effort, simply because I was petrified to incurr his wrath. I have never been able to decide if it was a good thing or not.