Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nutmeg at School

Nutmeg got her first report card this week. Can you imagine, the kindergarten report card?

What's more important, we got to sit down with her teacher for her first parent/teacher conference. The result is that I am very impressed with Nutmeg's teacher, "Miss Binney."

During the early weeks of school, Epu and I volunteered to staple some "books" that the kids would be using to learn to read. They were actually four page readers, each stapled into a little book, and the kids were supposed to spend one week on each of them.

The text read like, "Jump. Joe jumps. Jump, Joe!" You know the type. Dick and Jane sans Dick or Jane.

At the time Nutmeg was reading Junie B. Jones; she's sinced finished those, read about 30 Boxcar Children mysteries, and her latest conquest was Anne of Green Gables. (OK, the vocabulary in that book is waaaay beyond her comprehension, and yet she seems to have gotten something out of reading it since she didn't want to put it down at bedtime.)

So we were concerned about her spending part of each day for a whole week staring at these little booklets. Her teacher told us it would be no problem, that she'd give her other stuff to read too, but still, we worried.

At the parent teacher conference, we found out how it really goes down. First Nutmeg reads the booklet out loud to her teacher. Then she -- and her one friend who also can read all the booklets at first glance -- get to pick out other easy-to-read books to read while the other kids work on learning the booklets.

Now she's almost through all the available easy-to-read books, and she'll be starting regular kids' books (still picture books, but that's fine with her) and getting reading comprehension questions to write out the answers to. These sheets come from the "differentiation" (i.e. gifted) specialist who vists the class once a week.

They also have another reading program they work on for 20 minutes a day that allows kids to progress at their own rate through literacy activities like rhyming and replacing one sound with another.

After hearing some other parents fret that their children's kindergarten teachers were not even aware that their kids could read, I was very impressed with Miss Binney. She knew just where Nutmeg's skills were at, and she is providing her with new challenges as she goes along.

Nutmeg's report card has all "S"s for "satisfactory, except for one category: Respects the feelings of others.

This is because, Miss Binney said, Nutmeg has had several incidents when she is poking other kids or otherwise invading their personal space. However, Nutmeg has been improving in this area and the teacher fully expects her to get an S in this category next term.

I asked Nutmeg about these incidents last night while I was combing out her hair after a bath. She said she had bothered the other kids because they were being "bad" -- breaking rules while Miss Binney was not watching. I asked why she coudln't ignore the other kids, and Nutmeg said it was because she was staring out into space and they were right in front of her eyes.

And why wasn't she looking at her work instead of out into space?

"We were reading a book that you would read to a toddler," she said. "It was about shadows. I already know about shadows."

Sigh. Our big fear with Nutmeg in school was that she would get bored because she already knows the material, then act out. So maybe she isn't getting challenged enough after all.

However, I really think the thing that needs to change in this situation is Nutmeg. A smart kid like her is going to have lots of times in school -- and in life -- when she has to sit through material she already knows. She's going to need to learn to handle herself during that time, and I'm very hopeful that her smart young teacher is going to be able to teach her how to do that.

As far as I'm concerned, respecting the feelings of others is the MOST IMPORTANT line on that report card. Without scolding her, I told Nutmeg as much.

That said, the kid adores kindergarten and kindergarten seems to love her. She's off to a good start.


Unknown said...

Love the different color socks; she's ADORABLE!!!

I was the same way in school, and I fear my oldest will be the same too. It shows that you guys are great parents though and I know you and the Nut will find a way to work it out.

Anonymous said...

What a great and refreshing parental outlook! Our girl is not 2 yet but can already count to fifteen, recite most of her ABCs and recognize at least 10 letters on paper, knows her colors and shapes, is "hyper verbal", etc. We have similar concerns about school but concur that sometimes the better lesson for her to learn young is patience and respect, even when it involves conquering boredom. We figured we can provide extra challenges at home and hope that her teacher acts like Ms. Binney and goes the extra mile. I wonder if Nutmeg would be allowed to draw or write during those times where she finishes before her classmates. Maybe she can start writing her own book. What fun to read that!