Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kindergarten Conference - Pt. 2

Warning: Shameless Mother Bragging Ahead

Our last kindergarten conference with Ms. R was back in November which served as a progress report while yesterday's served as a year end summary.

There's nothing like sitting down with your child's teacher and being presented with a detailed report where she's excelling in every single area. And the first thing Ms. R asked us was, "Is there anything that you guys DON'T do with her at home?" I wasn't quite sure what she meant but then she went on. "Every single activity we do, Caroline has some kind of story or experience that she can relate to it from home."

That made me smile because it makes me realize how much we (the collective "we" comprised of Jason/I, my parents, and my ILs) actually do get to do with the kids. Sometimes I feel as though we don't get to do enough with them because of working full time and having so much to accomplish around the house when we aren't at work.

Ms. R told Jason and I a story about how when the class embarked on raising some caterpillars to butterflies, Caroline already knew that Eric Carle was wrong when writing the Hungry Little Caterpillar about using the term "cocoon" instead of "chrysalis" and about her own personal experience with the tent caterpillars in our backyard.  She was amazed at how, a few weeks ago, the class was read a story about how to make a boat and make it float and then were given aluminum foil to shape their own boat to hold pennies.  She said everyone else in the class didn't do much of anything and had "boats" that held one or two pennies.  Caroline, however, created a "pottery shaped piece" that ended up holding 216 pennies!!!   Ms. R was pleased by how much Caroline had apparently gotten out of the story they read.  (And I take personal pride in this one given my keen interest in simple engineering feats as this.)

Her Dibel scores continued to be quite high as well as her math scores being above kindergarten level.  So all in all, kindergarten has been a complete success and she's entirely ready for first grade.  There are 4 kindergarten classes that will be combined into 3 first grades next year.  I asked how this was done and apparently the county is changing some ways of doing things.  Previously they did a "high, medium, low" achiever type class model but they are switching away to doing 3 combined classes since the "low achiever" class was having such large teacher turnover/burnout because of combined learning/behavior issues.  There is academic thought that combining classes will help the lower achieving kids have better role models and to spread the more difficult children out between classes.  Plus, the higher achieving children will be pulled out for reading and math so that they are continuing to have their needs met as well.

Because there are 22 kids in the class, each parent is given 15 minutes for a conference but because we were the last ones on the schedule, we got about a half hour, which was really nice.  However, the reason it was nice was a bit disconcerting.  Of the 22 kids, it looked like only about half of the parents had even scheduled a conference with Ms. R.  In fact, even though ample notice was given (in several mailings, calendars, etc) that kindergarten was to have no classes that day in lieu of conference day (the rest of the school was in session), Ms. R said several children had showed up that day as usual.   ARE YOU KIDDING ME????  Clearly some parents don't care.  How do they expect the teachers to get through to the kids if the parents don't care?  Utterly disturbing.   Aside from Ms. R sending home a request for a conference AND a big note on Friday reminding them that there was no school on Monday, the BCPS school calendar states it along with the information in the school wide calendar that is in the take home folder and in the monthly newsletter.  I just don't get it.  Poor kids.  It's a never ending cycle - when the parents don't care, it's pretty hard to make the kids care.


Heather said...

Yay Caroline! So glad to hear she has progressed so well. It does not surprise me at all that kids showed up....no matter how many times and in how many places we print/tell parents about school events they never seem to comprehend...its our overscheduled society. No one has time to slow down and live. Sad.

Erika said...

Unfortunately in many of these cases for the population of C's school it's that the parents truly don't care (believe me, many of them are NOT busy). It's sad to see how many of them never have their take home folders cleaned out.

Heather said...

That's sad.

Katie said...

I am not at all surprised that Miss C is doing so well! Way to go C & great job mom & dad!

Erin said...

Ben's school mixes the first grades (actually all the grades until 4-5) by ability/test scores to create a pretty evenly distributed class, but breaks them out by reading and math groups, which I think is fantastic. I suspect Caroline's first grade will do the same? I definitely see how a teacher who was given the low-level class year after year would burn out quite quickly (especially because I can imagine that a lot of those kids are from the parents who just don't care).

Glad to hear you had such a great conference! Such a validation as a parent!