So, last Wednesday we had our first conference at the local public elementary school, Fragrant Hills, to discuss Younger Daughter's situation. It was attended by the obligatory cast of thousands, namely: my fed up self, Sainted Husband, YD's first grade teacher, her student teacher, the principal, the reading specialist, a district teacher trainer, the school counselor, and a district school psychologist.
The meeting began with me asking the first grade teacher whether YD's behavior had been OK so far. To my immense relief, she said it had. Sure, YD could be loud, or stubborn, but it was within normal bounds and the teacher was able to work with her. Hallelujah! (I believe I even said that.)
The school had done a bunch of assessments with Younger Daughter. To no-one's surprise, she is below grade level on both reading and math. The reading specialist said, "with your permission, I'd like to pull Younger Daughter out for intensive reading help, especially phonics." Me: "Yes, please!"
I explained that we had been working hard on reading with YD at home. I wonder if the day will ever come that someone from the school shows an interest in this, or asks what techniques or methods I'm using. As it was, nobody responded. I said that we were trying to get Younger Daughter out of the habit of guessing at words, and I gave a recent example, where she looked at the word "bats" and, instead of sounding it out (as I've seen her do successfully!), guessed "basket".
Later in the meeting the first grade teacher said that she would send home little books that they were reading in class, and the teacher trainer chimed in enthusiastically that we should work on these books with Younger Daughter, because she had already heard them read, and knew the story and the vocabulary. I didn't argue with them, but this is exactly what I don't want; it's too easy for YD to guess and fake her way through a book that she's already familiar with. I'll stick to our own books and phonics drills.
The district psychologist asked whether we had followed up on the recommendations in the report written by the psychologist who observed Younger Daughter back at Natural Friends. The recommendations were all about getting Younger Daughter assessed for an alphabet soup of possible diagnoses. I said that we hadn't done any of that, and I was skeptical of the recommendations. I said that I now believed that Younger Daughter's problem was a mismatch between the teaching methods used by her previous school and her particular needs, and I don't think Younger Daughter has any medical problem.
And that was pretty much it! All in all, I think it went very well. Everyone in the room seemed confident that they could work with Younger Daughter.