Originally Posted by dfunk98
i just got a message today from dd's teacher about a homework assignment dd had turned in. she was to draw a picture of what she thinks she will look like at 100 years old. the teacher returned it with a question mark. i replied in a note that it was a picture of dd's face with "lots freckles". the teacher called in response to my note. she said she wouldn't have been able to tell it was a face (it looked like a face to me and-obviously dd) because it was all in pencil, with no details drawn in crayon. i didn't see anything wrong with the picture being entirely in pencil. she said this type of work is acceptable in sept. or oct., but now that we are in march, she should be using more details. i was thinking of requesting a meeting with her to have her define more clearly what she expects of dd. needless to say, i am feeling very anxious over the whole situation.
i just wanted to know if anyone else had this kind of issue ever. tia!!
Originally Posted by dfunk98
i wrote the teacher a note letting her know i'd like to speak to her further regarding what is expected of dd at school. she called me this morning and we hashed things out. i'm still not really happy about the way she addresses the picture, in general, but she pretty much said the same thing Momily said, that this is a pre-writing exercise, which is why she wanted more detail. she felt that dd would not be able to "retell" the story, if she didn't know/remember what the picture was. i, however, think that dd did know what she drew, even if the teacher did not, but i digress. i guess the teacher felt that if dd used crayons, the details of eyes/nose/mouth would be more pronounced. i told her that when i drew as a child, i almost always used pencil, so i did not occur to me to offer her crayons. she was happy with the medium she was using, so i didn't challenge it. the picture was just face. it took up the whole page. it did have hair, eyes, nose and a mouth, however the "freckles" were large circles that covered the remainder of the face. i could see how the teacher might have overlooked the facial features, but come on-dig a little deeper!!
what it boiled down to is that dd has some fine motor issues, for which she goes to ot for 1x/week, and the teacher is not seeing a great improvement. i agree, her writing is not much better. however, the teacher said that dd has all the skills she should (letter/number recognition, letter sound recognition, rhyming, etc) just not the tools to apply them. meaning she has trouble writing and conveying her thoughts. we decided we will both encourage her to write and check-in in a few weeks.
the teacher said this kind of thing improves with age and she just needs to build her fine motor strength. yesterday, coloring a homework sheet, dd said her arm hurt, so i know this is a problem. i just wish i knew how to help her more.
I'll leave aside whether the teacher adequately communicated her expectations, and later her concerns, about the assignment. I agree that's important, and worth discussing with the teacher. I'd rather focus on the child in this scenario, and the difficulty with written expression. It seems to me that the teacher has identified a problem and that's what's really at issue here.
I have a child with similar issues, and I've known quite a few others. Yes, it's demonstrated both in drawing and other artistic efforts, as well as writing. In the earlier primary grades, before there are lengthy or intensive writing assignments, these kinds of developmental problems are often first identified because the child is turning in sketchy, poorly detailed artistic work.
Early identification is helpful to the child and the parents. It certainly avoids the tension that may arise in later grades when writing assignments become more intensive. Parents who don't realize what is happening often think a child is being lazy or obstructionist because s/he writes a couple of sentences instead of completing the page-long story. The child thinks s/he is stupid and starts to dislike school.
For a child with problems, it isn't at all helpful to focus on the shortcomings of the teacher, or debate whether a particular drawing has artistic merit. The artistic merit is kinda beside the point. Even if the child has an amazing talent to convey information in a few pencil strokes (I'm thinking Picasso's drawing of the dove), if the teacher is concerned about a pattern of poorly detailed written work - in art and in writing - it's an issue to be addressed squarely. Because that lack of detail is going to become a big problem in a couple of years when the writing demands at school increase. I wish we had had a teacher in the early grades who was more on top of the problem.
Let me repeat that - the artistic merit is beside the point. It's the pattern of lack of detail that is an ongoing issue.
The OT is probably focusing on fine motor skills, but there is often an underlying problem with gross motor skills and core body weakness as well. If the core muscles fatigue quickly, there is no support necessary for prolonged fine motor work. Swimming and dance are both enjoyable methods of developing core muscle strength.
It's also worth noting that it isn't always just a motor issue - neurologically, there is a lot that happens between the intake of information, organizing and formulating a response and writing it out on paper.
There are all sorts of accommodations that can help in later grades - keyboarding instead of writing by hand, oral presentations, video reports, extension of time to hand in work or complete exams....
Since "lack of detail" was a routine, persistent issue, no matter what kind of writing assignment he had, we made it a habit to ask ds whether there was enough detail in his work. He's learned to assess for himself the gap between what in his head and what's on paper. Yes, clear expectations from the teacher help, but really, if a kid routinely puts the bare minimum on paper (or even less!) then you can rest assured it won't hurt his learning or his grades to ask him to expand a little more. If it's more work than the teacher wanted (HIGHLY UNLIKELY), the teacher will either ignore it or give some positive feedback.
Good luck, OP. My ds is almost finished his high school career and we're still encouraging him to add detail to his written work. Thanks to recognition and intervention, he has always had very good report cards (sometimes straight A's) though, so don't get discouraged.