Small Steps Add Up to Big Gains

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The somewhat dreaded parent teacher conferences have come and gone.  If you have a good relationship with your child’s teacher,  there really shouldn’t be anything to surprising revealed.  It could be compared to the annual review at work.  It’s always a somewhat awkward situation and creates a bit of anxiety, but it shouldn’t be the time you are blind sided with news.  Your supervisor should have been commenting on your performance through out the year, so unless your being surprised with a promotion or a raise, you should know what to expect.

Zach with Mrs. Whitehill

I am fortunate that I get to pick my kids up from school most days of the week.  These means a lot of opportunities for one on one time with their teachers.  I am updated on the behavior and performance in the classroom almost on a daily basis.  My youngest son is in a half day pre-k class and he is one of the older students in the class.  I think this is to his advantage.  He is a bit more mature (as mature as a five-year old boy can be) than some of the other kids and he has been in a moms-day-out pre-school program at a local church since he was one.  So he was ready.

His teacher, Mrs. Whitehill is awesome.  You know there are certain people you can’t imagine doing anything else, that’s her.  She tells the kids she loves them everyday.  Her classroom is upbeat and fun with the appropriate amount of structure.  My son is ornery, cute, charming and knows how to use it(yes, I’m biased).  Mrs.  Whitehill has done a good job of tapping into his playfulness.  It also gets him trouble.  She said he often comes clean when in trouble and doesn’t cry or throw a fit when being disciplined.  In her words, he takes like a man (I wish he did at home).   This year instead of a parent teacher conference she sent home a note saying that Zach was meeting classroom expectations, did not have any behavioral concerns and was ready for Kindergarten.  This was not a surprise but a relief.

My oldest son’s review wasn’t so simple.  Although there weren’t any surprises, he has a more complicated situation to discuss.  We started this year terrified for some of the milestones that were ahead of us.  He would be having spelling test, begin reading assignments, there was a lot more instruction time in the class and the work load was heavier which included homework three nights a week.  My husband and I were not sure how my son would handle the transition from kindergarten to first grade.  There was going to be a lot more asked of him.  His teacher, Mrs. Davison, has been fantastic at handling my sons expectations as well as me and my husbands.  (It’s kind of embarrassing, but she really does have to handle our constant paranoia and questioning.)

Gabe and Mrs. Davison at the classes Christmas party.

My son is in a regular class with the exception of math instruction which he gets pulled for once a day.  So my meeting was with both teachers, Mrs. Davison and Mrs. Andersen.  They both said they have enjoyed having him and seen him grow over the year.  Socially we are making strides.   He started the year asking for a friend to take him to the library and to math class.  He was very anxious going alone or that he might miss something.  In the beginning the teacher allowed it, but after a few weeks she said no more.  He can do this, and he did.  He is a rule keeper.  Both teachers said he takes on the role of leader when working in groups, making sure everyone stays on task.  He can’t stand not to get something finished (OCD comes in handy sometimes).  He’s also made a good group of friends.  His teacher said it’s not unusual for certain kids to seek him out.  When you have a child with Aperger’s (or Asperger like traits), this is one of your biggest worries.  Getting invited to birthday parties is a gift in itself.

Academically we took baby steps.  You know what though, small steps add up to big gains over a year.  He is resistant to anything new when first introduced and gets very frustrated when he doesn’t understand something.  His teacher spends as much time as she can with him one on one and it has paid off.  (We are fortunate that in our school there is a teacher assistant in the classroom.)   His math class is very small which allows for a lot of hands on help with few distractions from the classroom.   He is reading at grade level.   They are expected to know 200 site words by the end of year.  He isn’t quite there, but I am confident we will get there by the end of school.  It takes him a little bit longer to learn new concepts than his peers, but he gets it done.  He is able to make it through the day and keep it together.    Mrs. Davison said he shows frustration but very rarely has an outburst.  She recognizes when he has reached his maximum and lets him have a break.  I could not have asked for a better set of teacher’s for both of my kids.

This year has gone smooth without many hiccups.  I can’t say enough about having open and honest communication with teachers.   Every year brings on additional expectations and a new set of worries.  This is one is almost over.  My boys have exceeded our expectations and with their teachers help our worries have been put to rest.

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