Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Parent Teacher Conference

Rob and I met with the Director of Cady's preschool program yesterday. What I thought was going to be a quick meeting turned into an hour long conference. We learned a lot but we weren't really told anything new. Cady is her own person, shocker! She gets along well with the other kids, is a great sharer, is well behaved but sometimes separates herself because she gets really overwhelmed with too much going on around her. She does the same thing with learning materials. If she doesn't get it right away she is quick to give up because she gets overwhelmed quickly. Mona says that is often true of intelligent people that learn easily. Knowledge comes easily but tasks that take practice that aren't able to be perfected on the first try can be terribly frustrating. Cady is also very rules-driven, loves structure and intensely dislikes transitions and new situations. If you've been around Cady for any length of time you know that one of her favorite phrases is, "What are we doing next or what are we doing tomorrow?" Mona said in all seriousness that the perfect classroom setting for Cady would be outdoors where she would move freely and not have to worry about filtering out the sounds around her. Homeschooling in Ripley anyone?

But really, how does one find a school that is structured with a strong emphasis on rules yet lets one learn at their own pace? Again, if you know Cady, you know that you can show her a concept and she will go into her own space and hammer it out until she gets it. Spend too much time "teaching" and she's done. I remember how last year at Colfax she went from loving school to resisting school all because of the structured time that they had to spend practicing writing their names. Montessori has the self-paced learning but the rules and structure aren't there as much as a traditional setting. A traditional setting has more structured time an will probably not be as overwhelming to Cady, yet the self-paced learning isn't really there. And because of the lottery system and living in a neighborhood where demand exceeds availability it's not like I really get to do more than just state my preference anyhow and hope our number gets picked. I worry most because I think the first few years are what make or break your love of school. I'm not as concerned with academics as I am about a good match to foster Cady's love of learning or rather avoiding an environment that doesn't recognize her learning style.
Why is this so important? Didn't we all just go to the school closest to our house and turn out fine? Is this another case of too much information causes us to overthink? What is the line between wanting the best for your kids and helicopter parenting? Really, I don't mind honest feedback on these questions because my head is spinning big time.
On a much lighter note. The moment in the meeting that brought tears to both of our eyes. Mona was flipping through Cady's portfolio and marveling at how she knows all of her letters both capital and small. She was able to identify all of the shapes including oval and hexagon. She showed us pictures that she drew and things that she has written but the proudest moment was when she came to a sheet of paper that looked very much like an incident report. In fact, I thought it was and I was bracing myself when Mona started to read.

"Harper and Chandler were playing together in the playhouse. Chandler told Harper, 'You cannot be in my club'. Cady was in another center engaged in another activity yet walked over and told Chandler, 'You won't let Harper into your club and that is not nice. You hurt her feelings and made her feel sad. Harper, you can be a part of my club."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seeing Stars

It escapes me how our parenting logic has gone out the window with child #2. What happened? One would think that the first child is an experiment and the second child is when you have it figured out. Why is that not the case?

Coben has been FIGHTING us on brushing his teeth. Every single night it has been a battle to get him to release the toothbrush from his tiny fists and to open up his mouth. We always win but it involves screaming and tears (Coben), sweat (US) and lots of begging (US again).

Last week Cady walks out of the bathroom and proudly tells us that she brushed Coben's teeth and he opened up and everything. Huh. Okay. I'm not sure why or how but I'm just glad. The next night I witness it for myself. Coben opens his mouth wide and Cady delves in an gives him a good oral scrubbing.

And then....

She produces a gold star. She found the same package of stars that we have had since she was a baby. The very same stars that we bought in order to reward tooth-brushing. The very same stars that went on her tooth-brushing sticker chart. The chart that Coben doesn't have. Huh. Thank you Cady for re-teaching us how to parent. We seem to have forgotten somewhere along the way.

And tooth-brushing I might add has been a breeze ever since.