So we got our first report card... - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-28-2013, 03:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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...and I say "we" advisedly because I, the parent, got an F, too!ROTFLMAO.gif

 

At DS1's school (he's entered early in first grade, the first year of formal schooling where we live) they have overarching "themes", and once every few weeks the more interesting worksheets are bound together to make a "theme book" to take home to proudly show the parents and relatives and then hand in again to be collected until the end of the year, and they're a big deal.

 

His report card says he is "neat enough" in preparing the theme book (I guess that's a C) but deficient at handing them in again! One has disappeared, apparently in our house, and we've searched high and low, and have NO idea what happened. So I guess that's an F at parental organizationblush.gif.

 

I shall have to do better.

 

And I need to talk to the teacher about the rest of his report card, and am not quite sure how to go about it.

 

It's satisfactory enough - there is mention about his fluent reading, and writing short stories, and his high motivation, eagerness to learn and ease at storing up information, his extensive contributions to science topics and a lot of "know how to"s and "is able to"s in maths, about which I have no idea whether they mean he meets or exceeds grade expectations, because they don't put that in writing, but as he just flies through his homework I assume there aren't any problems with meeting expectations, or I'd have heard about it by now. I'll ask just in case.

 

However, in every subject, there is mention about "rushing" and sometimes not forming letters or numbers neatly and legibly, and "mostly" colouring within the lines, and altogether he is "easily distracted" during worktime and needs to be "reminded repeatedly" to finish his tasks.

 

The teacher and I have talked about in fall why he would not be faster or neater at doing his work than others, but needs work that is more challenging cognitively. I do not think this kind of differentiation is happening yet. They have open-ended projects like the stories they are expected to write, or tasks like "write or draw about what you did for..." etc and this works very well for him - and I have to point out to the teacher that the letters in his stories are MUCH neater than those on the boring worksheets. They also had to hold their first presentation, about an animal of their choice (I am actually quite impressed by this, as I held my first presentation in 7th grade), and he researched and prepared his presentation about spiders almost completely independently, just needed technical help (how to find the right websites for research, and how to print out pictures etc) and I will have to point out to the teacher that he needed no reminder to finish his task whatsoever.

 

I heard from others that they are also waiting for differentiation during worktime to happen, and will have to get the teacher somehow to commit to doing it now, not just give lip service. I think she is willing, it's just the usual - hard to find the time, with other kids needing more help.

 

I am not sure what to ask about concerning his homework - of course he is rushing through his boring worksheets, but he does need the fine motor practice. I wonder whether to ask the teacher to have him write stories instead, using the letters and words of the week? I have gotten quite used to the comfortable situation of not having to take homwork that seriously, and I quietly ignore any task on his weekly homework list that is not in writing, like "practice reading the words on work sheet X" or "build and unbuild the word of the week with your letter tiles every day" and he ignores those too. reduces his homework load quite a bit - other parents at the PT meetings always talk excitedly about practicing this and training that, and we don't do anything, I barely have the time to check that his worksheets are done Thursday night! i am not quite sure I ought to mess with this.

 

Thoughts?

I ought to mention for those who don't know us that I live in Europe, not the US, but it has been my experience that the problems in changing attitudes towards challenging gifted kids are the same the world over...


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Old 03-01-2013, 08:49 PM
 
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I feel like a lot of your post is trying to translate the system of grades used by the school your son attends into a different system -- even the joke that you got an F, too.

 

From what you are saying, there aren't letter grades on the report card, and every thing on his report was accurate and all his work is acceptable.

 

 

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Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

 

His report card says he is "neat enough" in preparing the theme book (I guess that's a C) but deficient at handing them in again! One has disappeared, apparently in our house, and we've searched high and low, and have NO idea what happened. So I guess that's an F at parental organizationblush.gif.

 

It's not a C, it's not an F. His handwriting is neat enough, but you really need to try get the things back. That's all.

 

And I need to talk to the teacher about the rest of his report card, and am not quite sure how to go about it.

 

It's satisfactory enough - there is mention about his fluent reading, and writing short stories, and his high motivation, eagerness to learn and ease at storing up information, his extensive contributions to science topics and a lot of "know how to"s and "is able to"s in maths, about which I have no idea whether they mean he meets or exceeds grade expectations, because they don't put that in writing, but as he just flies through his homework I assume there aren't any problems with meeting expectations, or I'd have heard about it by now. I'll ask just in case.

 

Does it matter if, in another school system in another country, he would be marked as meets or exceeds expectations? He's doing fine, which you already knew. It sounds like there are numerous positive comments about how your son learns.

 

However, in every subject, there is mention about "rushing" and sometimes not forming letters or numbers neatly and legibly, and "mostly" colouring within the lines, and altogether he is "easily distracted" during worktime and needs to be "reminded repeatedly" to finish his tasks.

 

The teacher and I have talked about in fall why he would not be faster or neater at doing his work than others,

 

So what the teacher is saying totally jives with what you know to be true about your son. Right? Shouldn't his grade card reflect the reality of where he is right now?  She isn't saying something horrible about him -- she says he hurries and needs to be reminded to finish.

 

but needs work that is more challenging cognitively.

 

Although I completely understand where you are coming from with this statement, I don't think it is related to her honest statements that he rushes and needs to be reminded to finish what he starts.

 

His writing is messy, and at times, not legible, and he needs to work on that. He has opportunities to work on that, but doesn't bother to.

 

I am not sure what to ask about concerning his homework - of course he is rushing through his boring worksheets, but he does need the fine motor practice. I wonder whether to ask the teacher to have him write stories instead, using the letters and words of the week? I have gotten quite used to the comfortable situation of not having to take homwork that seriously,

 

I think that you should take how neatly he fills in his worksheets more seriously *if you want the teacher to say he has neat handwriting.*  Part of what children believe about education they learn from their parents, and you are teaching him that its OK to be messy and rush.

 

(I don't care if your son is messy and rushes, but if you want him to change that, then making it clear that YOU care about might really have an impact. )

 

Thoughts?

I ought to mention for those who don't know us that I live in Europe, not the US, but it has been my experience that the problems in changing attitudes towards challenging gifted kids are the same the world over...

 

I don't see what the comments on the grade card have to do with being gifted. I understand that you want differentiation and that it isn't happening, but that doesn't have anything to do with the grade card.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 03-04-2013, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hah! Went through DS1's desk tonight (looking for yet something else that is missing, a math test this time we both recall signing and giving back to him) and found the missing theme book! I had looked everywhere we the parents might have put the censored.gif thing but it turns out DS1 made it disappear by storing it away with his other books (mostly MTH fanfiction and fanfiction about a dragon story, he is very prolific these days).

I shall be so much less embarrassed turning up for a conference.

 

I hope we find the math test in time.lol.gif

 

Well, he is entered early. it's got to show somewhere.

 

Linda, it's not that I don't think the report card is accurate - it is. And there are a lot of good things in there - I happened to see it again today because DH had it on his desk to file away and yeah, it's a good report cardand I am guilty of overfocusing on the few problems identified. I'd prefer letter or number grades anyday, but they don't get them in first grade, so be it.

 

It's just that we had discussed every single area of concern mentioned back in November, and I suggested strategies that I know would work, namely tasks that are cognitively more challenging etc, because he does those neatly and remains focused. She listened, understood, commented and even took notes, so I had to assume if it continued to be a concern, she'd try some of those out...I know she hasn't, and that DS is still doing the exact same work everyone else is, so I kinda assumed things were better or I'd either hear about it or she would have changed something. After all, I am not there to remind him to focus or finish, and telling him in the morning before school won't help either, it's up to the teacher to deal with that. So now I hear it's still a problem, but she isn't doing anything to address it so far...just bugs me. I also told her, before Christmas, that DS1 liked to do his homework independently and that I let him, and that I felt criticism from her might have a much better impact than from a nagging mama, and to tell me if this did not work out and I needed to supervise him more. So, is it too messy too often or not, and is she doing something about it or should I be?

I did not tell her that super-tense DS1 used to explode in my face for being told (gently!) that he wasn't doing his best or that something wasn't legible or messy, yell at me to do it or even throw pencils around. I have learned to just tell him that I felt that legibility was important and that the teacher was not going to be satisfied with his work, that more yelling or throwing would lead to consequences, and walk away. On the other hand, he has burst to tears in the morning feeling that his letters weren't neat enough and that the teacher was going to be disappointed, and was inconsolable when I told him there wasn't time, and he would just have to do it more neatly next time. (I checked, he didn't.)

 

And I'm, like I said, a bit confused myself about how important it should be for him to do the less than challenging stuff neatly knowing that he can do better if challenged. If it is even possible to get him to do it, he can barely focus on putting on his socks in the mornings. All the while discussing the color spectrum of laser beams with DH.


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Old 03-05-2013, 09:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tigerle View Post

 

 After all, I am not there to remind him to focus or finish, and telling him in the morning before school won't help either, it's up to the teacher to deal with that. So now I hear it's still a problem, but she isn't doing anything to address it so far...just bugs me. I also told her, before Christmas, that DS1 liked to do his homework independently and that I let him, and that I felt criticism from her might have a much better impact than from a nagging mama, and to tell me if this did not work out and I needed to supervise him more. So, is it too messy too often or not, and is she doing something about it or should I be?

.....

 

And I'm, like I said, a bit confused myself about how important it should be for him to do the less than challenging stuff neatly knowing that he can do better if challenged. If it is even possible to get him to do it, he can barely focus on putting on his socks in the mornings. All the while discussing the color spectrum of laser beams with DH.

 

I'm just not seeing it the same way that you do. I have a 2E child (who is now in college) and I'm finding your desire for everything on a report card to be perfect a bit odd. It really doesn't sound like he is a kid who will get perfect marks in school, regardless of his IQ. shrug.gif 

 

My 2E child never has -- and having done it both ways, I much prefer narrative feedback over letter grades.

 

The teacher is most likely doing lots to help him stay on task and encouraging neat handwriting -- everyday in what she says to him.

 

The kid is doing fine. He rushes. He's messy. He's still doing fine. He isn't melting down and he is doing is work.

 

If you were pushing for him to have accommodations so that he would be spending his day learning, I'd be with you 100%, but you seem to care more about what the grade card says that about what he is getting out of school, and I don't get that. No body's grades matter until high school. It doesn't matter what the teacher writes on the card.

 

My 2E child has serious fine motor deficits, so neat handwriting wasn't something I could ever fuss over. But if your child is CAPABLE of neat handwriting and you desire for him to make it habit to write neatly, there are ways that you can make that happen. If you don't care about his handwriting (or he has fine motor issues), then why get all worked up over his teacher saying that it is messy?


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 03-05-2013, 10:18 PM
 
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Like Linda, I feel like I must have a totally different philosophy on grades and achievement and school "success" than you do, so I'm not sure whether my take on your dilemma is going to be helpful at all. 

 

I far prefer narrative reports over number or letter grades. Some day number grades will matter. For my kids that day begins in 10th grade. There's no point in burning them out on teacher-pleasing and grades in primary or middle school. 

 

I also don't much care about neatness. Ultimately it is helpful if people can write short notes legibly enough to be understood when written communication is essential and time is of the essence. In life. Like, when you want to jot a phone number and name down to take a phone message, or stick a note up on your door for the UPS guy.  But I don't see any reason to harp over neatness at age 6.

 

I think that striving for excellence is something all kids should have experience doing at some point before becoming fully fledged adults. And I think that all kids should be nurtured along in their capacities to persist and see things through, and to attend to details to an extent that is commensurate with their maturity. But I do not think that -- particularly for gifted kids -- schoolwork is necessarily the best place to work on those things. It's best if those skills are nurtured in arenas that are meaningful to them and challenging. School isn't necessarily that arena. 

 

So if it were me in your shoes I would just not worry about the report card. It contained no great surprises: he can be messy, he rushes through things, and he can be absentminded, but overall his achievement is fine and he seems happy. He's six. No big deal.

 

Miranda


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Old 03-06-2013, 12:31 AM
 
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What I'm seeing is frustration that so much emphasis is being placed on the negatives, and virtually none on the positives. An understandable feeling.

I would make sure my child knows I value the positives, and shrug off the petty negatives. If something is mentioned that is negative and you feel there needs to be improvement, that's a different matter. The items listed don't seem crucial, to me. You already know he willing does better when the material is more challenging.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:31 AM
 
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Sorry. Double post.
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Old 03-06-2013, 01:12 AM
 
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OP, did you grow up in the same European school system as your DS? I remember spending a half summer in Germany as a child and being shocked at how much emphasis was placed on correct handwriting (not just legible, but exact adherence to the one correct way to form each letter). I still make my 7 and my cursive r the German way, even though I was probably only there seven weeks out of all my years of otherwise American schooling. Perhaps some of the emphasis on handwriting is cultural?

 

In any case, my take on this kind of misalignment with a school is that it's not productive to convince the system to feel differently about one of its priorities.  I guess, and it's easy for me as a homeschooler to say this, they are going to worry about neatness; regardless of how the teacher feels, you get to choose how much it matters to you . I mean, they get to mention it on the report card, and you get to respond or not respond (bearing in mind how it affects your son within the system). Similarly, you can ask them to work to teach executive function in a particular way, and they can decide whether that way of teaching it is possible within their other constraints and routines.

 

I wasn't sure from your post how much of your concern is wanting to understand the teacher and what she wants of you (I like letter grades simply in that there's no parsing to be done--it means exactly what it says), how much is wanting less strict grading on neatness, how much is wanting better in-class teaching of those skills, and how much is concern that differentiation might be contingent on improved neatness/focus. I am wondering if it might be useful to simply advocate for more challenging work as a stand-alone request, separate from the issue of boredom affecting handwriting and focus. 

 

Heather

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Old 03-11-2013, 03:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So sorry for not coming back earlier - life has been wild!

 

Domesticidyll, your post made me take some tiime to find out what my own concerns are - I wasn't so sure myself, it turns out!

Yes I grew up in the same school system and guess what I have been told throughout all my elementary schooling wasn't good enough! In my case, it was not only the correct way to form the letter that was subject to criticism, but even the correct "look" of the script according to the particular teacher - I was grade skipped from first into second and the second grade teacher's emphasis was on a very upright, "blocky" style, whereas the first grade teacher preferred a somewhat more slanted style...and the second grade teacher let me feel that being a "slow"and "messy" writer was a major problem with my grade skip (she wasn't comfortable with the grade skip from the start, but was overruled by the principal). So I am sure there is some projecting going on here! :p

 

However, I ended up having a really messy hand I can barely read myself, so legibility under adequate speed is a concern of mine. Just not the overemphasis on perfect formation.

 

So I want DS1 to care about writing well, but am sure that nagging him into it won't work. He has to start caring himself! And I think the best for this is meaningful work, Which is of course a goal in it self. I shall see the teacher Thursday week and get clear myself about what I want to ask.

 

What I hate about the narrative report card is that they are legally required to word everything in a positive way, so you are never quite sure things are a problem or not - unless they are worded so clearly negatively, as his "rushing" and not handing stuff in. I am just annoyed at all this interpretative work to be done. Silly little example: in PE, he is "diffident and needs encouragement by the teacher. Can do forward roll with assistance." So I happen to know this means: he is physically cautious, sometimes even anxious, hates competition, so he refuses to take part in PE class if there are competitive games going on that involve running and catching, for instance. Which is somewhat of a problem. he is also very uncoordinated and has some vestibular issues (has had PT and OT, has always been pronounced "borderline", not really needing therapy, but exercise like swim or martial arts classes. We have had to take him out of his swim class recently because he developed such anxiety about diving and swim styles he was actually regressing in swimming skills). So "can do forward roll with assistance" means he can't to it properly. And if I want to know whether he is supposed to at his age and grade or not I will have to ask. Same with "can do operations with numbers up to 10" - it does not tell me whether he could do them up to 20 but it isn't expected or whether he can't but it is expected. KWIM? If I want to find out if there is a problem I have to ask! And things like "mostly neat" or mostly legible" are code for "there is a problem with neatness/legibility". It's jsut annyoing.

 

But I have gained some perspective (thanks, LInda!) and will concentrate on the challenging and meaningful work part and how to help him develop better executive function. I know that the system will continue to have high expectations for letter formation and neatness and will have to help DS develop adequate standards.


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Old 03-12-2013, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Some day number grades will matter. For my kids that day begins in 10th grade. There's no point in burning them out on teacher-pleasing and grades in primary or middle school. 

 

Miranda

 

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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

If you were pushing for him to have accommodations so that he would be spending his day learning, I'd be with you 100%, but you seem to care more about what the grade card says that about what he is getting out of school, and I don't get that. No body's grades matter until high school. It doesn't matter what the teacher writes on the card.

 

 

Hah, I just realized there is another cultural divide here!
 
The grade in which letter/number grades are absolutely crucial and life changing where I live is 4th grade. Yes, you read that right. 9 year olds. It is the year where the tracking decision are made in public schools and being allowed in college prep track (where a reasonably bright child needs to be in order to maintain his sanity, let alone a gifted kid) necessitates (the equivalent of) a B- average. I think handwriting, PE arts and music don't count...still, obsessing about number grades here starts in 3rd grade at the latest (the first number grades appear in the report card that's handed out at the end of 2nd grade.
 
I thought I wasn't going to obsess this early and I don't think I am.
I think I am nervous about having to start pushing for differentiation and worrying that the fact that he can be messy and disorganized and sometimes does not write legibly may come up as problems again and again.
 
Thanks for listening, anyway. I still think I am getting some old traumata out of my system.
 
Edited to say that I am not sure why I am saying that I do not think I am obsessing, since obviously I am! eyesroll.gif

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Old 03-12-2013, 08:21 PM
 
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I think a lot of what you're describing is kind of "expected" with an asynchronous, young learner in an age-based environment.  I understand your worry, though, given the early implications for long-term opportunities.
 


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Old 03-13-2013, 08:32 PM
 
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What I hate about the narrative report card is that they are legally required to word everything in a positive way, so you are never quite sure things are a problem or not - unless they are worded so clearly negatively, as his "rushing" and not handing stuff in. I am just annoyed at all this interpretative work to be done. Silly little example: in PE, he is "diffident and needs encouragement by the teacher. Can do forward roll with assistance." So I happen to know this means: he is physically cautious, sometimes even anxious, hates competition, so he refuses to take part in PE class if there are competitive games going on that involve running and catching, for instance. Which is somewhat of a problem. he is also very uncoordinated and has some vestibular issues (has had PT and OT, has always been pronounced "borderline", not really needing therapy, but exercise like swim or martial arts classes. We have had to take him out of his swim class recently because he developed such anxiety about diving and swim styles he was actually regressing in swimming skills). So "can do forward roll with assistance" means he can't to it properly. And if I want to know whether he is supposed to at his age and grade or not I will have to ask. Same with "can do operations with numbers up to 10" - it does not tell me whether he could do them up to 20 but it isn't expected or whether he can't but it is expected. KWIM? If I want to find out if there is a problem I have to ask! And things like "mostly neat" or mostly legible" are code for "there is a problem with neatness/legibility". It's jsut annyoing.

 

I can see where this would be annoying. I would hate to have to read between the lines to figure out how my child was doing in class because only positives were allowed on the report card. I'd probably also find myself trying to translate it into a system that I do understand. 


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Old 03-13-2013, 10:02 PM
 
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I can't imagine that gym class counts in assessing entrance to the gymnasium track. (Ha! That sounds odd to my American brain :) But surely that's relatively available information? By word of mouth, if not directly?

 

I can't vouch for any of these personally, but I know there are a lot of books out there to help with executive skills (That Crumpled Piece of Paper was Due Last Tuesday, or something like that, is a title that stands out in my mind). Maybe just having some of those in your arsenal would be helpful, just to sort through concerns if in no other way?

 

This is likely not reassuring at this point, but I have seen a substantial difference between the boys we know at 6-7 and at 9-10 in writing. There's a big leap developmentally that I see here, where handwriting is not especially emphasized; I imagine the jump would be at least as sharp where it is. Even a child who is an outlier will probably mature into someone who is *less* of an outlier by that point.

 

The advocating for a 2E child, though, that's complicated under the best of circumstances.... Concern and preparation doesn't seem like an unreasonable response to me. Good luck with it--

 

Heather

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Old 03-18-2013, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't imagine that gym class counts in assessing entrance to the gymnasium track. (Ha! That sounds odd to my American brain :) But surely that's relatively available information? By word of mouth, if not directly?

 

Ah, I realize I did not put that very clearly. No, I do know that gym does not count for gymnasium entrance (yes, that one does sound super odd in English...), nor do arts and music. The grades that count for the B- average are language arts, maths and science. What I am not sure about is how handwriting (or at this point, general legibility and neatness of presentation) will be factored into the LA grade particularly, and maybe the maths and science grades, too. I imagine this may be somewhat up to the individual teacher and what her priorities are.

I shall try to casually find out when I meet the teacher on Thursday how this is usually handled by the school.

Mothers who start obsessing about gymnasium track from day one are a national joke. I do not want to be one of them. I am beginning to realize how hard tracking is to ignore.

 

Quote:

I can't vouch for any of these personally, but I know there are a lot of books out there to help with executive skills (That Crumpled Piece of Paper was Due Last Tuesday, or something like that, is a title that stands out in my mind). Maybe just having some of those in your arsenal would be helpful, just to sort through concerns if in no other way?

 

I have read, and tried a bit, of Smart but Scattered. While it was very interesting to read, for us it's more like "ah, so that works for other families." All those structured reward schemes do not work at our house - one, because DS1 immediately starts turning the if-when paradigm on us, and two, because he will then start negotiating about every little thing, and have a screaming meltdown about losing points or whatever. (And yes, we have tried out the chapter about developing emotional self-regulation, too). So far, it works better for us to supervise, issue commands and model organization by talking ourselves and teaching him how to talk himself through to-do lists.

Pushing too hard always ends up with resistance, explosions and meltdowns. That is why I am careful about how to go about making him care about handwriting.

 

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This is likely not reassuring at this point, but I have seen a substantial difference between the boys we know at 6-7 and at 9-10 in writing. There's a big leap developmentally that I see here, where handwriting is not especially emphasized; I imagine the jump would be at least as sharp where it is. Even a child who is an outlier will probably mature into someone who is *less* of an outlier by that point.

 

The advocating for a 2E child, though, that's complicated under the best of circumstances.... Concern and preparation doesn't seem like an unreasonable response to me. Good luck with it--

 

Heather

 

I can see DS1 maturing almost before my eyes! Grade school works so much better than the mixed age preschool-cum-kindergarten classes - I wish we had been able to get him into a suitable environment earlier. I am so pleased with how far he's actually come! I better count my blessings.


MeDH DS1 10/06 DD 08/10 DS2 10/12with SB and
Tigerle is online now  
 
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