Thursday, February 14, 2008

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Last night, Aaron and I attended our very first parent/teacher conference for Gracie. When we were first invited to sign up for parent/teacher conferences, I wondered what to expect…I mean, she’s three years old, so I wasn’t sure how much information the teacher would have for us regarding academics and things like that. And, I drop Grace off at day care every morning and Aaron picks her up each night, so I would have thought that if there was a serious problem with the little one, we would have been informed by now. But, I signed up anyway, just in case Grace’s teacher had something new to tell us and ask her if she had some suggestions on how to get her ready for K4.

Turns out, I am glad that we decided to go. Granted, there weren’t any huge surprises, but it was nice to hear how Grace has been doing during the long days at day care and how she is interacting with other children and her teachers.

Overall, Gracie is right about where she should be at her age. Academically, she recognizes all of the letters and can write a few, can draw shapes, is able to at least trace all the letters of her name, and knows her numbers beyond 20 and can write a few of those as well. She can draw pictures on demand—for example, her teacher asked her to draw a person, which she was able to do and she even drew a person in a house and drew snow falling outside the house. She can tell a story from her imagination (she has the most amazing imagination) and remembers things well. The only thing that was on the teacher’s list that she was unable to do was to cut out a large circle, but my mom loves telling the story of my kindergarten screening when I was unable to cut a straight line but entertained the teacher with a long, rambling story that I made up on the spot, so Gracie comes by it naturally.

Socially, it seems that Grace is doing well, too, and honestly, this was the most important thing to me. After leaving her day care in Oshkosh where she cried daily when I dropped her off, I was concerned about how she would adjust long-term to a new center. But, it seems that she is doing very well—she joins in quickly with the other children during play time and is respectful of (although a little shy with) her teachers. She loves creative play time with the other kids and she has a handful of really close friends. (Sadly, I learned last night that her very best friend, who she talks about incessantly at home, is moving away in two weeks! My heart is breaking!!) She generally transitions well from one activity to another and isn’t having any trouble with nap time or lunch time. The only thing she has trouble with sometimes is when her teacher redirects her to another activity if she gets upset about something or is doing something she shouldn’t be doing. This is not a shocker to me, as she can get pretty stubborn at home, too, if she’s upset or in trouble. She definitely knows what she does and does not want to do.

I also found out that she is able to put her jacket, snow pants, boots, and other winter paraphernalia on by herself, which came as a surprise as she usually wants us to help her with it at home. Maybe she was having us help her at home because we always offer…perhaps it’s time to just let her do it herself. Also, when we asked if there is anything we can do to prepare Grace for K4, her teacher just suggested maybe working with her on writing her name and learning to recognize some basic words. Coming up at school, the kids are going to be learning lots of fun stuff, like their home addresses and how to write their last names. Important stuff!!

So, I wasn’t terribly surprised by our findings at the conference. I know that Gracie is learning more about her world every day and is discovering all kinds of new things. I also know that she is one heck of a kid and I couldn’t help but beam when her teacher told me what a great job she is doing. That feeling alone was enough to make the whole conference worth it.

Oh, and Grace is madly in love with Valentine's Day. Right now she has all of her cards and treats from all of her school friends spread out over our coffee table, admiring her treasures. I'm wondering which candy I'm gonna sneak in the name of preserving my child's teeth.