Last Thursday I had a second conference at Fragrant Hills to discuss Younger Daughter's progress. The cast was similar to the first conference, but Sainted Husband wasn't there. So this time we had my fed-up self, the first-grade teacher, the principal, the reading specialist, the school counselor, the school psychologist, and, on a flying visit, the math specialist.
The meeting began, informally, with me talking to the reading specialist about YD's reading. I know the specialist socially because one of her kids was a classmate of Older Daughter's at a Montessori pre-school. We had a very pleasant conversation; she said she was working on phonics with YD (Hooray!), and showed me the book they were reading, about plants that eat bugs. She said YD enjoyed it, and indeed, YD later gave me an unprompted demonstration of the different ways bugs can be eaten by a plant. Later, the specialist said something about "strategies", and I said that YD had a bad habit of guessing that I wanted her to get out of. The specialist made a note of it.
I asked the first-grade teacher how YD's behavior had been, and she said, again, that it was basically okay. Sometimes there are minor problems, but the teacher doesn't find YD difficult to work with, and YD isn't disrupting the class. So far, so good. The principal asked the teacher what concerns she has, and the teacher said, "YD has come a long way from the beginning of the year, but I'm worried that the gap will keep opening up between her and the rest of the class. She's done OK on the spelling so far, but the spelling lists will just keep getting harder." (She mentioned the spelling lists twice.)
She said she was worried about YD's social development. When asked for an example she said that their new math curriculum (Investigations! Gack!) requires that the kids pair up for various games. She assigns the pairs randomly, so the kids will all meet each other. When she tried to pair YD up with a particular kid, YD said "I don't want to work with him!"
The school counselor said that maybe YD is worried that the other kid understands the math better than she does, and she'll be embarrassed working with him. I agreed that the fear of embarrassment is a big deal for YD.
(Inside the fed-up brain, I'm thinking, so what? YD didn't slug the kid. I think her reaction was pretty mature and reasonable. Why should they expect every second-grader to be able to work productively with every other second-grader? And why do they mix up math with social development?)
The math specialist came in, briefly, to show me the results of some testing she had done of YD. She said YD needed to work more on coins, clocks, and subtraction, which I made a note of so we can follow up at home. She also said that YD tested out in the average range compared to other kids. YD always shows up in the average range, which is remarkable, considering how hard she fights taking the tests at all.
(Back inside the fed-up brain, I'm thinking, if you can afford to spend 10 minutes explaining to me that YD doesn't seem to know her coin values, couldn't you have spent 10 minutes, oh, I dunno, teaching YD about coin values?)
That was most of the conference, except for the school psychologist expressing her contempt for me. Now that a little time has passed, I realize that, on balance, the conference went extremely well. The next one is scheduled for January. I figure if we keep on after-schooling YD, she should be in good shape by then.