Parent/Teacher conference

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by ashbar, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. ashbar

    ashbar New Member

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    Oct 6, 2008

    Next week is my first parent/teacher conference with my daughter's
    kindergarten teacher. I want to go in & make a good impression as a supportive parent, but to be honest, I'm concerned about a lot of things. One of the main things is the curriculum, which is not at all what I expected after listening to the teacher's introduction on the first day of school. My daughter knows all the basics (alphabet, colors, numbers, shapes, writing all that stuff plus her name, letter sounds, etc.) but that's all they've been doing so far, despite the fact that the teacher said she would be evaluating the students & the starting differentiated instruction based on their individual skill levels.

    In the meantime, my daughter has been having some behavior problems (talking when the teacher is talking, not focusing). I didn't initially find this out through the teacher, but through the principal when my daughter got on the wrong bus one day & rode it around town before she was found. The principal told me it was because she was immature for her age & needed to go to half day kindergarten. Honestly, I feel like my daughter is bright, possibly gifted, and is likely bored with the lack of challenging work (so far school seems a lot like her previous daycare to me). But I know the conference is going to be at least in part about her behavior issues.

    I don't want to discount what the teacher & principal have said about my daughter's behavior & maturity, but needless to say, I have some misgivings about the teacher & the school in general. What questions can I ask to get a clear picture of what's really going on without being accusatory or making the teacher feel defensive?

    Thanks!
    Ashley
     
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  3. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Oct 6, 2008

    Be respectful, and say you want what's best for your daughter. Tone is probably just as important as what you actually ask. Since the kinder teacher brought it up originally, I think it's fair to ask what the schedule for differentiation would be. Many schools don't do any differentiation at all in kinder unless the child is extremely advanced, and it could be she just hasn't gotten to it. You could ask what sort of evaluation they're doing, also.

    I don't quite understand the rationale for putting your daughter in a half-day program. Does "immature" mean she's getting tired at the end of the day, and would be better in a half-day program? If that's the case, does it mean they see less problems earlier in the day?

    Is this a private school, by any chance?
     
  4. ashbar

    ashbar New Member

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    Oct 6, 2008

    Sorry for the lack of info, I was trying to keep a long story short. :)

    In explaining to us how my daughter got on the wrong bus, the principal said that she's immature...examples were that she won't talk to adults (she got really scared that day & was found hiding in a seat crying & wouldn't talk to anyone) & behavior like trying to kiss another little girl on the cheek when the teacher was trying to get her to circle time (this example happened first thing in the morning). The principal & teacher feel that she's having trouble "staying focused" & that perhaps she's not ready for a full day.

    This is a public school in a small town in IN.
     
  5. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    Oct 6, 2008

    Academics aside, it does sound like your daughter may need to focus on social skills. Indeed, these skills are vital for doing well in school.
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Oct 6, 2008

    I agree with the above, but. . .


    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/health/13kids.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin



    It's not her long-term academics that will suffer (and it sounds like her short-term academics are fine). However, "doing well in school" can be interpreted in a lot of ways besides purely academic. It sounds like she does need to improve socially, though I don't think I'd judge a child's maturity just after having a frightening experience. That their example of her trying to kiss a classmate on the cheek occurred during the morning, however, suggests they wouldn't see any drop in the rate of incidents if they shortened the day. If it's not the length of the day at all but merely the difference in environment or culture, then giving her less exposure to it would arguably delay her adjustment. It gives her less time to work on her social skills, which is exactly what they're hoping to improve.

    My son's gotten some similar complaints through the years. His first-grade teacher, within a couple of days of meeting him, told my wife he may need to be held back or put in a learning-disabled class (in front of him, no less) largely due to behavior. That didn't happen, he's now just entered third grade and tested out of learning cursive, multiplication, and division (that is, since he already knows these topics, he will work on other things). When I brought up the idea of him usually taking a month or so to adjust to the new school (giving her an opportunity to mention any behavioral issues), she gave me a blank look and a shrug, briefly mentioning, "He seems okay" as if I were out of my mind and clueless about my son. Believe me, I never thought a look of mild confusion would be so heart-warming. Your daughter's behavior doesn't sound very far out of the realm of normal for kindergarteners even if it would help her to improve.
     
  7. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Oct 6, 2008

    Certainly ask any questions that you may have concerning the schedule for evaluation and differentiation, and ask if the results of the evaluations are ever shared. Also, like a previous poster said, your tone is just as important as what you actually say. Try to find some positives - something like, "Kara loves school, thanks for making it such a positive experience so far!" or "I love how good you are about parent communication" or anything else that you've been pleased with.

    Remember, in the end, the teacher may have very little control over the curriculum, or the speed of the evaluation process that leads to the differentiation. In our school, the curriculum is mandated, and our assessment window is ending tomorrow for K and PreK kids. Of course, we are constantly doing informal assessments, but the big ones that lead to groupings are done by someone else (reading teacher) in a window of time prescribed by the district.

    Kindergarten is the place to learn those social skills (like not kissing classmates!). Academically, the skills that you listed that she knows are all ones we'd expect our kids to know when they exit pre-K in this district, so she seems like she's right where she needs to be.
    Kim
     
  8. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Oct 6, 2008

    I agree with the others in refraining from any kind of accusatory or defensive tone - go in smiling! I do think it's very fair to ask how she is differentiating for the kids and even to ask academically where does your child fare when compared to the other children. I received an e-mail 2 days after school started from a parent asking how I would differentiate in the class (her child has already been labeled G/T), but I had no issue with answering that question. Ask for specifics - if the teacher says she is not focusing - on what kind of activity?

    I don't know how big the school is, but often times principals are not the best judge of what a specific student is doing day-to-day in the classroom. Usually they only hear about the behavior issues ( or a student getting stranded on the school bus). I really don't understand how shortening the length of your daughter's day will help her develop maturity. Talking out in class, of course something to work on, but believe me very commonplace -especially if this is her first experience in school, it takes time to adjust to rules. Good luck!
     
  9. ashbar

    ashbar New Member

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    Oct 7, 2008

    Wow! That is a great article, and gives hope to many parents I'm sure. I appreciate everyone's responses & advice...they've been very helpful & reassuring!
     
  10. MissB

    MissB Companion

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    Oct 7, 2008

    I would hope that ALL teachers are differentiating in their classrooms, ESPECIALLY in Kindergarten.



    Ashbar, I have to be honest, as a K teacher, with students at various levels, I haven't started a whole lot of differentiating yet. We have been working on the basics, to make sure that we are focusing on the many systems and routines in our room. I know I have many kids in my class that are ready for a higher level of learning, but as a whole, the class isn't ready. Be assured that the teacher WILL begin grouping and differentiating activities when she feels she knows all the students well enough and when they know the routines well enough. In a a half day program that can take a good month or two, depending on the kids in the class and the disruptions.

    You and your child's teacher have your child's best interest at heart. Just go into the conference with an open mind and, like 3Sons said, use a kind, positive tone when you insist that her academics become more challenging. You are your child's best advocate.

    Good luck.
     

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