Saturday, March 8, 2014

Getting to the heart of the matter

We've spent the last few days talking about a solution for what has been happening every morning with Julia.  We made the choice to keep her at her school and talk to the administration about what has been going on. And then to see what can be done.

I've always taken the side of the teacher as kids are very good at telling you just enough and not giving full details.  The teacher often has a different view on how things are going and a much broader view of the full picture.  That's not to say I don't listen to my girls or that I don't think that what they are saying isn't true.  But what they say is often not the entire story.

Due to Julia's crying, past experiences with her little friend that has said rude things and the fact that she's had four teachers this year, I just assumed that what she was telling me was all true.  In fact, I never thought to ask her teachers the past few weeks.  What?!  Why this never occurred to me, I don't know.  It's always advice I give to other parents.  Get involved.  Ask about your child's progress.  Come see what we're doing in the classroom if you have any concerns.  Talk to your child's teacher and truly listen to what they're saying.

But I didn't.

Until yesterday.

I pick up Julia on Mon., Wed. and Fri.  Jeremy picks her up on Tues. and Thurs.  Her morning teacher is not there when we drop off or pick up and her afternoon teacher is very sweet, but often in the middle of the lesson (which is great!).  Thankfully her teacher Ms. Suzie was still there when I picked her up at 5:30pm last night!!

I waited until another parent left and since the other kids were outside with another class, I was able to talk to her about things that were going on.  I had already talked to the administration of the school - they talked to the teachers - the teachers talked to Jeremy - Jeremy talked to me.  But I really wanted to get more in-depth conversation as there wasn't much shared except that she's happy, she's fine and that's all.  I wanted to know more detail.

Our conversation was very enlightening.  In fact, more than ever I'm convinced we're at the right school.

Julia was standing next to me and then moved away as she heard me ask how Julia was doing.  She had the 'guilty' face and looked away as we talked, but kept an eye on us at the same time.

Ms. Suzie said that she keeps the girls and boys divided up so that they can get their work done.  They are learning letters/numbers/how to trace their names/etc...  She shared that she will go over to Julia's table and help her to know what to do, but as soon as she turns her back Julia is sneakily moving to hide behind a cubby, take a toy from her backpack without asking or hiding in corners to play instead of doing work and waiting to be found.  Mind you - these hiding places are not well-concealed and she can easily be found.

Suzie shared that Julia doesn't like to do work.  She doesn't want to do anything except play.  She won't do any work at all unless the teacher is right next to her the entire time.  And bingo - we hit on the reason she really doesn't want to go to school.

As she shared this, I looked at Julia and she climbed on a table with her arms crossed and said "I don't like to work!"  The teacher said that they are pushing her to trace, write numbers, etc. during work time and she refuses to do it.  They also are aware of any girl drama and are keeping it to a minimum by having the girls separated and watching.

I was also told a story about how another girl said something mean from across the room so Julia walked over to her, punched her in the shoulder and then walked away back to her seat.  "She can stand up for herself" - the adult that observed this happen.  Not sure if I am proud of her or embarrassed that our girl is so much more physical than Riley ever was.  I still wasn't sure whether this would be something she'd do.  To Riley, no doubt - she'd do it.  But to someone else?  So I asked Julia if she did it and Julia smiled coyly and said "Yes.  I did that."  Well ok.

We ended the conversation with me telling Miss Suzie to write me notes or contact me if this continues.  Really wish we had been made aware of this earlier.  Though in all fairness, I couldn't do a parent-teacher conference a few weeks ago because the times were when I am working.

As we left, Ms. Suzie wanted a hug from Julia.  At this point, Julia's arms were crossed and she was mad that we had talked as the heart of the matter was now pointed out.  She wouldn't give her a hug until she was prodded and even then it was half-hearted.  We've got our work cut out for us!


I did learn so much through this situation.


Tips for Thought:

1.  Listen to your child.  Hear them out.  Don't agree or disagree.  Simply listen.  Let them know you'll talk to the teacher and then make a plan together.

2.  Go to the teacher in person, on the phone - never by email (which I didn't).  Talk to them in detail.  Ask your child about what is going on, get information, be on their side and support them, but go to the teacher and get the full information before making a decision about what is really going on.

3.  Make a plan.  Make a plan for how to fix the problem.  With Julia, we're rewarding with Donut Fridays again.  She only earns them if she is well-behaved in the mornings on the way to school and does her work at school.


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