So. The conference.
It went well, and was LONG. We learned that our girl J is the kind of girl who sticks up for her friends and takes care of her table-mates (they sit at group tables, not individual desks) by making sure everyone has everything they need. Quite the little momma, that one. We learned that our boy N has made quite the impression with his plethora of baseball knowledge and his ability to learn at the speed of light.
Collectively we are concerned about some anxiety J is expressing through a relatively new habit – biting her nails. Now, as an on-again/off-again nail biter myself, I will say anxiety is exactly the trigger for me. I’ve learned something about J in the past few months. As social as she seems; as comfortable as she portrays herself to be, she is exhibiting many of the same social anxieties that I have. I saw it first when she had her first dance recital. All of a sudden she was fearful and I was uncertain I could get her on the stage. But once she was there, she shone like the diamond she is. Then came the talk of school, and she would tell us she was “nervous about school” as opposed to excited. Then school started and she was fine – loving every minute. The nail biting seems to have started not long after she dealt with her first social drama. A friend she was close to told her she didn’t want to be friends anymore, and it broke J’s heart. And mine. She’s since become BFF’s with another little girl and all seems to be well, but the nail biting has taken off. Her teacher asks her what she’s worried about when she’s doing it, but J says nothing. Unfortunately, I think the source of it is something J doesn’t have the emotional maturity yet to recognize. So we’ll work on trying to mitigate her anxiety (her current stress is about the holiday program and the fact that she doesn’t know the words to the song they are singing – that they haven’t taught yet. So mini-me it isn’t funny) and find ways to encourage her not to bite.
I’m going to brag a little here. Academically both kids are well beyond where they are expected to be at this point in the year. Their teacher indicated they came in knowing so much, and they are doing so well that they will be two of probably four or five students in a high level reading group after the first of the year. N is practicing some math skills that place him at a second grade level. J’s reading and some of her math skills are already where they expect them to be by 1st grade, and her attention to detail in her drawings and penmanship are much admired by her teacher. She tells us both kids “self-regulate” well and that they make choices towards the more challenging “center” activities when the kids are allowed to decide for themselves what to work on. Both kids are seen as leaders and good examples for the other kids.
We did discuss the incident from the day before where N got in trouble. He explained to her what he was trying to do (hold up the “quiet down” sign like they are supposed to) and she explained to him how if it happens again he can come talk to her and tell her because then she would have told him she’d made a mistake. She apologized. We discussed with her how we didn’t want to teach him that if he got into trouble that his parents would come fix it, but we also know that he is extremely non confrontational and afraid to get into trouble so we wanted to find a way to empower him to speak up for himself in a potentially unfair situation. She agreed wholeheartedly.
We did decide that next time we would do the kids’ conferences separately. Initially we didn’t think (nor did the teacher) that there would be so much to talk about. But we feel like next time it will be more appropriate to do them separately. J was upset that we talked about N first, and I am kicking myself for not pushing for separate conferences. Lesson learned.
But we’re so proud of them. And so thankful for a teacher who is taking the time to notice them, and for a school district that gives her the tools (a 20:1 class ratio among other things) to do so. I know it’s only their first school experience, and some years will be better than others, but I’m thankful that this first one is a good one. For all the anxiety and stress over where they were going to go to school, I’m pretty sure they’ve landed right where they are supposed to be.