Friday, December 04, 2009

Parent-teacher meeting 2009

In all the years that I've attended parent-teacher meetings, for both Brian and Sean, I've gone alone. Today, Eddie actually attended one with me! Unfreakingbelieavable. And I didn't even ask him to...he just decided he wanted to join me...which kind of felt a little strange at first. But it's all good. It is a momentous day indeed. :)


Anyway, the meeting was with Sean's teacher. As I had said earlier, I was really pleased when I found out who Sean got as his teacher this year. I hadn't had the chance to speak to her much since Sean joined her class so today was the first time we actually managed to talk about Sean and how he was doing.

The meeting started with her asking if I had any comments about the report she had sent home a week ago. Not really, I said, my main concern is the social aspect of his schooling. How is he doing in this area?

She said when she first saw that she was getting Sean in her class, she expected him to come in and strut around saying, "I know this, and I know that"...but that he's not at all like that. He is very sweet, friendly and always cheerful when he steps into class every day. Eddie was concerned that he might be snooty or rude to the other children, the way he sometimes acts around us at home, making nasty faces at us, glaring at us, saying we are silly etc. She says she never sees that, he doesn't show off, nor does she feel he is spiny (as in easily annoyed or upset by others). Generally an easy-going and happy kid.

I told her he says he doesn't have friends (he wasn't complaining or unhappy about this, he was just stating this as mere fact). She says he is friendly and children around him like him BUT they just do not have the same interests. What interest other children don't interest him at all and vice versa. And he's happy to be absorbed in his own thing.

He zones out completely when he reads. She loves watching when he reads cos he'll be so focused and then he'd suddenly burst out heartily in laughter. When it's time to line up, she tries to make sure there is no book around him, because if there is one, no matter what level, it could be a simple picture book, he would immediately be drawn to it and will open it up to read and that's it, zone out.

She said she's told the other teachers she's always worried when she sees his little hand come up, it's like, "Uh-oh, what's he going to ask now?" and that he keeps her on her toes. But recently, she was so pleased with herself cos for the current unit of inquiry, they were learning about matter, and she was telling the class about the 3 states of matter, when his little hand went up, and he said, "Actually, there are 4 states of matter." and she immediately pounced and said, "Aha!, actually there are 5!" She related this to us with much glee :)

I remember Brian talking about the 5th state of matter here when Sean and him were arguing about the 4th state of matter but obviously Sean remembered none of that. So when Ms Jayne started talking about the 5th state of matter, she said Sean got very excited and kept asking about Bose-Einstein Condensate. She soon noticed the glazed look on the other kids' faces so she told him she'd print out an article for him, he could read it and discuss with her later.

Ms Jayne thinks it must be very frustrating for him to know what he knows and yet not be able to share that with the kids around him. For example, the other day, he asked her if he could bring in his Mystery of the Periodic Table book. When she said yes, he came home looking for the book. Inside the book, I had written, "Dearest Sean, With Love, from the Tooth Fairy, 19th September 2009." She said he shared the book with his classmates, and again she saw the glazed look on the kids' eyes, and when it was question time, instead of asking about the book, they started asking when the tooth fairy came! LOL!

So she later engaged him by asking him if he knew all the different elements (or gases, I don't remember). He said he only remembers some. She replied, that's all right, I've forgotten many myself. Do you know the Noble Gases? He said he did, and started telling her what they were. I thought what she did was pretty impressive cos even though I had bought him the book, I had never heard of Noble Gases and wouldn't have bothered to find out. For sure, I never read even a page of that book.

Last year, I had asked Sean why he doesn't talk about all the stuff he loves so much in school, his reply was, "Cos no one would understand." Well, Ms Jayne seems to understand or at least make an effort to. Even when they were talking about Thinking Hats, she would introduce words like Metacognition to Sean, after which he'd come home and tell us about the new word he had learnt, Thinking about thinking.

She added that he derives his happiness from activities that are more insular, from reading, from absorbing information...For example, in Free Choice, kids can choose to do anything they want, and Sean immediately wants to draw, read, write or work on Math. But he's perfectly happy to be in his own little world. Which makes her wonder if we really need to make kids who are 'unbalanced' more balanced, or should we just accept them for who they are. Do we need to make them 'normal', what exactly is 'normal'?

I told her I've wondered the same myself, and I have no answer for that either. Everyone with asynchronously-developed children will always hear that their kids need to be more balanced. I only said that I wanted her to know that Sean is very happy to be in school, and that I'm happy with what she's doing, keeping him engaged and as much as she possibly can, challenged. Really, what more can a parent ask for of a teacher? I'm content.


Hsien said...

I always admire how you can accept your kids (and other people) for who they are. Something so fundamental yet so difficult to do.

Lilian said...

It's a struggle...some days I wonder why they can't be more like this or like that (fill in the blanks), but I figure I'm not perfect (far from it haha), so why expect that of my kids, or of anyone else for that matter?

And I don't always accept others for who they are :), but everyone is annoying sometimes, even the nicest people (for being so annoyingly nice) for those who annoy me too much, I just minimise contact lest I develop stomach ulcers.

Lilian said...

I was hunting for this quote and only just remembered it was from Randy Pausch: "Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out."

Hsien said...

I know everyone has a good side but sometimes their annoying side overwhelms it!!

Lilian said...

haha...the worst thing is when these are the people you can't actually avoid having in your life!

Alcovelet said...

Wow. It sounds like Sean is in a REALLY good place where he can be himself. He sounds like such a sweetheart (a genius one :D) and Miss Jayne is just the nurturing type to bring out the best in him. Very happy for you guys!

Lilian said...

Thanks Adeline. Yeah, school's working out really great this year, partly cos I've also learned to chill and not be so antsy. And having a teacher who accepts the child for who he is is really important, as this allows the child to feel secure in his own skin. Looking back, his teachers the past two years have been really wonderful too, just that I wasn't as 'chilled' before :)

Alcovelet said...

You know what, you ARE sounding more chilled and zen. Not like you were hyped up and go-go-go at all, but definitely more calm. Probably because the Big Hurdle is over (hey, uprooting for half a year to a different environment to prepare for a tough exam must have been stressful on the entire family!), and the kids are settling so well. Really, so nice to watch!

Lilian said...

Thanks Adeline, you're very sweet. It has been really stressful, though a lot of the stress is self-inflicted :) from worrying over the unknown. And when everything's over, you look back and realise that much of the worrying wasn't entirely necessary.

A lot of my fretting in the past was due to the worry that the boys won't be able to cope when we eventually return to Singapore. But after our stay in Singapore, and seeing that they adapted fine, even Sean, which surprised me...I now feel I can be a bit more chilled :)

monlim said...

Miss Jayne sounds like a god-send of a teacher! Someone who can engage Sean at his level and yet ensure the whole class remains engaged too. Such teachers are truly hard to come by. You're very blessed this year!

Lilian said...

Yeah, she's very steady, kind, yet no-nonsense type. Actually, his teachers in pre-K and K were really wonderful too, just that I was too gancheong then, always fretting over him, er, doing 'nothing'...and worrying his brain was rotting :P

He's been very fortunate that all his teachers seem to enjoy his kookiness, including his form teacher in Singapore. The only exception is probably his Singapore Chinese teacher haha, I only realised this on the last day when I met her while collecting his stuff, she talked about him with an annoyed look on her face :D

monlim said...

How can lah... surely the Chinese teacher should realise that he's completely unexposed to the language right? Maybe she's one of those old-school types...

Lilian said...

Must be quite annoying to have to handle a boy who cries whenever he's unsure about something, which during Chinese lessons, means just about everything.

I'm not sure if she actually knew just how little Chinese he understood. I suppose I should have been more proactive and written a note to let her know but at the time was so preoccupied with Brian and all that DSA stuff, just didn't want to bother with that. Nevermind, kids are hardy :)

Puzzled by Puzzles! said...

Sean is lucky to have a teacher who totally understand him!
I think our wish is that they will find someone (even just one friend) who can "connect".

As for teachers who gets annoyed, J had his fair share of that during his violin class ytd. The teacher kept asking me if both kids had the same teacher back in Taiwan! I could tell that she was really losing steam with him. :(

Anonymous said...

I believe teachers play important roles to shape a child and his future. So happy for Sean. His statement..."They won't understand..." sounds just so familiar.


Lilian said...

Teachers are soooo important especially in elementary school where you see just 1 teacher all day (except for PE, art, music and computer). And it's all luck of the draw. Get a great teacher and you can relax the whole year. Get a crappy one, what are you gonna do? Bopian, just gotta focus on the positive aspects of that teacher or you'll just end up frustrated.

Re "connecting", I've been asking Sean since the start, Who do you talk to the most in class? and the answer for the first year was Ms Lara, 2nd year Ms Cheung and now Ms Jayne :)