4!! Parent/ Teacher Conferences in the last 3 days!!
Ponito - Wednesday
Ponito is doing very well in 4th grade. He's making A's in almost every subject, particularly math. Their only concern is reading comprehension and studying. Basically he skims books and isn't getting enough comprehension (60% instead of 80-100%). This was a concern at the private school too. He "got it" so quickly that he rushed ahead and sometimes he missed something important. He either made 100s on his tests or 80s. 80s meant he missed something. Hubby and I are a little concerned that Ponito will make it through school without needing to study (like we did). When he finally comes across something requiring study (didn't happen till college for us!), he will not know how! Still, he's only 9 so we're not too worried. Just something we're watching.
Bear - Thursday
Actually this was a Parent/Therapist conference - Bear wasn't there. Therapist read us the riot act again, for not spending enough time with Bear (I don't totally agree with this one) and for being too restrictive. We've always been concerned with the line between keeping him out of trouble and allowing him to fail. Since every single time we've loosened the reins he used poor judgement and messed up, we've gotten to the point of not loosening the reins. The therapist has talked us into allowing him some more freedom (such as the out classes in regular school), but basically doing so in a very supervised way (such as academic instead of athletic classes -which have too little structure and supervision). He warned that if we did not lighten up some, two things were likely to happen:
1. Bear would start rebelling and acting out.
2. When Bear graduated he would do all the things we had tried to prevent, but now it would be on his adult record.
I wanted to talk about the fact that Bear is not expressing any emotion. Before Bear went to residential treatment and got on his current medications he exploded on about a monthly basis. All emotions were stuffed inside and converted into angry lava. You could see it seething and bubbling inside him. When he lost control the volcano exploded in an angry outburst. Afterward, for about 10-30 minutes he would exhibit true emotions - he usually cried and talked about his feelings of abandonment, fear, anxiety and anger (accessing the emotions he kept stuffed inside). We felt that therapy would not reach Bear until we could get the volcano under control.
Now Bear has his anger under control, but he still stuffs his feelings inside instead of processing them. Now they go in what appears to be a huge box inside him. When Bear had an outburst, that box got opened and examined and maybe processed a little. Now that he has no more outbursts, the box stays closed, the emotions untouched and buried deeper and deeper. Bear is making progress academically and socially. He does talk about things and has even cried, but it tends to be current stuff. He is getting more mature, and can control his emotions- which is a good thing don't get me wrong! But I can't believe that not dealing with all the bad stuff that I know is in that box is a good thing. I can't believe that him not dealing with most of his feelings is a good thing. Before he wasn't able to learn anything because his life was in constant chaos - and now he is advancing academically and socially. He will never be off medication completely, but I wonder if it's time to start lowering his doses so that he can access his box, deal with his emotions. Or should we give him more time to be successful in all the areas that had been falling by the wayside?
Friday - Bear
So we had a parent teacher conference with Bear's school and told them we'd be willing to allow Bear to attend out classes at the highschool. For scheduling reasons it has to be two classes. We decided on English and remedial math (he's taking 2 math classes has an 83 in the applied math class and a 73 in Algebra - we think it's stupid that he has to take Algebra, but No Child Left Behind right?!). We are insisting on someone to escort him to and between classes.
We are also requesting he be tested for dyslexia. Technically they only have to test a child every 3 years and it's only been two (since he was tested in a tiny town in rural Nebraska), but we might be able to push it since he's been diagnosed with ADD and failed the 8th TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) three times (never passed).
Friday - Kitty
Kitty's parent teacher conference was to ream us for
allowing Kitty to attend school smelling disgusting (hard to catch for us as the odor builds through the day, and in the enclosed car on the way to school, Hubby has no sense of smell),
being a wrinkled mess (Kitty is incapable of putting her clothes away - she shoves them in a drawer, dumps them on the floor and leaves them in baskets which she then mixes with dirty clothes),
not having extra clothes at school (she uses them and doesn't replace),
forgetting her workbooks at home -recently Kitty went home sick and when she went back to school she discovered that she'd left all of her workbooks at home. We did not want to make the 30 minute round trip because we needed to get to work (45 minutes to 1 hour, one way). My suggestion was to have her work on a report or clean. They apparently didn't like that suggestion. We did make Kitty do all the pages that she missed after school.
not picking her up right away when she was sick - I'm going to blame this one on Hubby since he took the call and did not pass on any sense of urgency to me. We were told she had a stomach ache/cramps - this is a standard thing for Kitty although it's been awhile. Hubby told them to give her some Tums and he'd call Grandma - he thought they said they would call back if the Tums didn't help. They thought he'd call back if he hadn't been able to get hold of Grandma. I wasn't able to get hold of Grandma, but luckily she showed up early so she could do portraits of the kids in the school (she's an amazing artist). They sent Kitty home with her.
We wanted Kitty in on this meeting so she would understand that the hygeine/ appearance concerns weren't Mom being picky. Even though they obviously felt the onus was on the parents, when they addressed her they emphasized that she is 13 and responsible for herself. I think they got through to her, but there is the issue that she is probably not really capable of doing this on her own (in a lot of ways she is a very immature 6 year old). We will have to take back over her laundry and wardrobe.
I let them know that Kitty has a psych eval on Tuesday - we want to get her tested for bipolar disorder, and that we are trying to get her assessed through the school system for dyslexia. Getting the assessment is going to take some time. Then we have to figure out what services she needs and how to get her those services. We'll have to advocate for the school to come get her or work with her at school. Her private school is in another school district so she gets services through them, so we'll have to work with another system (yea!), but I've heard good things about this school districts special educations services so that will be good.
Luckily I have lots of friends who are able to help me advocate for my kids' needs. They WILL get the services they need.
OK, while she was mentioned at Kitty's P/T conference, Bob didn't get a conference, but I didn't want to leave her picture out! *grin* So here's my baby girl! These pictures are from last year. I really need to work on getting out the camera more often!