Location: Palm Beach County, Florida, United States

Recently have been told I look like Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. I hadn't heard that in years, but that is a good place to start as to what I look like, although she had a better bod. I have three boys and have been married for 13 years. Born of a Navy family, in Hawaii, one Mom, one Dad, one sister and one brother. The eldest of three children. BS in Applied Mathematics. Consider Pensacola my home town although I moved every 2-3 years of my life growing up. Currently work in the aerospace industry in an engineering position while being a Mom. Of Celtic heritage and very proud of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Everything He Needs to Know, He is Learning in Kindergarten

OK, it is time to explain the Parent Teacher Conference.

First let me state that Son#3 is an amazingly cute kid with a very funny personality and the fact he uses adult words such as ‘Isn’t that delightful?’ makes him that much more endearing. His teacher actually loves him. She told me he is so sweet and they LOVE having him in class.

But… we have issues. Personal space issues, fine motor skill issues, not following instructions issues… When I hear the “Well, he is a June birthday, you need to keep in mind that he may not be ready for first grade” I can feel myself shut down and from that point on, she may as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher saying, ‘Wah, wah, wah, waaaaah’.

Personal space issues: he keeps hugging the other kids and is constantly in their face. I view it as impulse problems. We are working on it. I can see it, I’m not blind.

For instance, his first soccer game, he came running up to me right before the game started and said, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. (because he can never say Mom just once), Zachary is on the other team!” With that, the entire first quarter, he and Zachary were hugging all over each other, playing and messing around. I nearly came unglued. All the parents are laughing. I gave him the Mom evil eye a couple times, but he gave me that impish grin that said, “I’m on the soccer field during a soccer game. Aren’t I cute? You aren’t really going to come out here are you?” Needless to say, there was no more hugging the last 3 quarters after I made my way to the bench. That doesn’t mean he contributed, however. At one point he was goalie. I kept thinking, “Dear God, please don’t let them kick it down that way now” as I watched him step out of the big goalie box and start playing with one of the flags.

In his defense… none of his other 5 year old teammates are any better. Seriously. They all spend their time picking dandelions or grass or staring at the clouds, or day dreaming about whatever 5 year olds day dream about.

The fine motor skill issues… I am getting to the bottom of now. They have a specialist (who I was NOT impressd with) working with him, but I think it is not an occupational therapy thing, but that he just ‘flat out has too much to do and doesn’t have time for silly things like coloring, drawing, or writing his name.’ I’m not kidding. But I am working on it and my next door neighbor is a 1st grade teacher and she’s helping me once a week with him also. I will tell you, I was offended when they told me that ‘they needed to see improvement’ because I saw A LOT of improvement.

August, they had him do a self portrait. I saw two circle blobs with lines jutting out of them… I think maybe the sticks were arms and they were coming out of the head.

September he did another. This time the circle blobs were attached and there was a face and definitive arms and legs and… it.was.anatomically.correct. We had boobs, a belly button… yeah, we had a naked blob person.

October yet another. This time he was not naked, but there were 5 stick fingers and 5stick toes and hair. I was informed we need a neck and that his arms and legs should no longer be sticks but rectangles and that his round body should be square. Whatever. I wanted to say, "Bite me", but I refrained.

Now, if that is not marked improvement in 2 months, 2 weeks of which we DID NOT have school due to hurricanes, then I don’t know what is. If they expect him to be Michelangelo by December, I have a rude awakening for them all. It ain’t happening. I’m happy with his improvement; I refuse to be discouraged.

They carried on about his handwriting. I said, “Have you seen his father’s? His father told me that he didn’t have time to have nice handwriting… he had too many other things to do.” I got a blank stare from the specialist and the teacher.

Then of course we have the 'following directions' issues… which we are working on.

So I’m concerned enough that we are working really hard, but I’m keeping my chin up that we will make it through. He’s a very bright child, it is just a matter of focusing now and teaching him impulse control. It’s all about personal space.

No more kissing Lisa at the Lite Brite.


Blogger Stu said...

I have a 4 1/2 and a 6 1/2 year old and I remember when they both used to do that :)

8:22 PM  
Blogger B. Indigo said...

Cute post, Bou. We all can relate!

10:48 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

I'm not sure this is a consolation, but my fourth grader's "self portrait" still looks remarkably like his first grade "self portrait" - - but he's a math whiz and is doing great in school this year. An artist he isn't.

His handwriting was disasterous until he learned cursive in third grade. Now, it is quite nice and certainly legible.

He, too, was a racer . . .wanted to be done first and foremost. And yes, that has a big impact on the final end product.

His second grade teacher kept saying to me "he's not printing his letters correctly no matter how many times I correct him". I'm like, "well, he learned it here at this (expensive, private) school so talk to his prior teachers." When he learned cursive it was pretty much learning from scratch, and he learned it properly. Huge improvement in his handwriting.

So I personally wouldn't give the whole handwriting/fine motor thing a second thought . . .

4:56 AM  
Blogger VW said...

Bou, son #3 is WAY too intelligent for you to hold him back. He is showing improvement!! Maybe some valerian** would help? Just joking!

**Valerian is widely used in Europe as a mild sedative and sleep aid in cases of insomnia, excitability, and exhaustion.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Harvey said...

I'll bet he still makes better stick figures than Frank J. :-)

7:13 AM  
Blogger Ogre said...

He's 5. It's completely normal. If the school can't handle him, go the homeschooling route. If they even suggest medicating him, get him away!!

And yes, I'm sure he does draw stick figures even better than I.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

I read this, and it was as if you were talking about Tara. Invading people's space, not concentrating, charming all and sundry, and *knowing* it. Using adult words, and as for following instructions, I might as well be talking to the fridge half the time! Guess who else has a June birthday? I might start believing in astrology.

I don't know why his teachers are putting the focus on attainment rather than progress. He seems to have achieved an awful lot in a short space of time, especially when you bear in mind the interruptions to his education. And it's a known fact that children don't progress at a steady rate, like a rising graph. There are always plateau phases during which they're consolidating what they know.

Your description of the soccer game was hysterical. My evil Mom look never works when there are other people around.

9:53 AM  
Blogger MoMMY said...

Glad I found you. I have 4 boys and #3 sounds a lot like yours. As long as there is improvement it's all good (IMO). We're working on the following direction issues here. He's a bit passive aggressive and this is where it shows. I love when the teachers tell you these things and expect you to have the answer. I mean, if I knew what to do to stop the behavior, don't you think I'd stop it? Come on. Do they think we are trying to set them up to misbehave?

Can't wait until our P/T conferences. Oh joy.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah - I see you have hit the "outside the normal parameters" problem that schools have in abundance. Schools are set up for all kids - as long as they are middle of the road OR have some disasterous problem where the system kicks in to make the child fit. This will be a problem that will have you tearing your hair out for the rest of his educational life - where he goes to school doesn't even matter! It's the fact that he doesn't want to fit in the nitch assigned to him.

First of all - don't get too hung up on the drawing/writing thing. My son still is unable to write a legible letter and he can't draw to save his life... it always amused me that his best friend from grade school is a born artist - yes really the kid has talent out the wazoo and my son can't even do stick figures. LOL. Yes, your son should work on improving it - but don't let the teachers get you really bent out of shape over it - it's NOT that important!!! BTW - you may want to start working on typing skills early with him *grin*.

Next - your description of the soccer game... um - yeah that's a 5 year old team! Both of my kids were like that when they were that age. I still remember my daughter picking dandelions and doing cartwheels in front of the goal. My son only played for a year - since he was tall they always made him the goalie and he got bored.

Last of all - the personal space issue isn't too big of a deal. That sort of thing generally gets resolved among his peers. You and the teachers can "make" him stop doing things - but when you aren't looking - he'll be back at it, until his friends tell him to cut it out. That will carry more weight - LOL.

In the end - you have a happy outgoing 5 year old. He's quite normal - so just relax. Or - er - no don't relax that might be bad. Nope normal kid... don't dare turn your back!!! LOL.

-- Teresa

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeeze - most adults I know can't draw people any better than stick figures, I don't know why they'd require a five year old to.

I may have had a couple of those issues at that age too... I still remember my first kiss was either in Kindergarten or 1st grade, with a little blonde girl named something like Jenny.
I remember because I got into so much trouble for it that I can *still* remember getting reamed out by the principle while being yanked so hard it felt like my arm was going to come out of its socket.

Hmmm... maybe that has something to do with why I ended up being afraid of girls until my mid-to-late teens...


5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like me at that age. He'll figure out the rules for hugging and not hugging in time. We all do. As far as his motor skills are concerned, who cares if he can draw like the other kids??? As long as he can hold a pencil or a crayon properly and make reasonable letters, he's ok. He'll probably grow up to type more than he writes anyway.

June birthday isn't old enough??? what kind of crack is that teacher smoking? If he was an October or November baby, maybe, but age wise I'm guessing he's near the middle of his class. If he's happy, then forget what the teacher is trying to sell you. What's most important is his social adjustment. If he's not throwing tantrums everyday and has friends and is learning something, he's fine.

Sounds like you and your husband are on top of it, and have nothing to worry about. Every kid matures at their own rate, and he may be a social/physical late bloomer. Good luck.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Jovianne said...

I hope this comment does not tick you off, but what I was reading about what the teachers are saying/doing ticked me off.
He is 5...... Hello?
They need to chill out.
Encourage his creativity and do not set guidelines that he has to follow to a 'T'
Handwriting? in Kindergarten? Should be working with crayons and finger paints still, then narrowing down to finer items like fat pencils.
Again, the creativity issue.
All kids learn at their own pace and he sounds like a lovely,perfectly normal 5-yr-old to me. Heck, he is still learning about how to be a kid, listen to adults, and learning how to be social.

Sorry, but I ran a day care for 5 yrs very successfully, and I also managed to raise 2 boys to adulthood on my own. I am not an expert, nor do I want to come across as one, but I have seen what happens to kids when pushed too fast too soon too far. They withdraw. These teachers probably used to teach high school and can't remember how kids his age are.

Sounds to me like a kid you can be proud of.

5:51 PM  

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