Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Two Steps Back

I've been hesitating to write about this, because I know that Jane is going to hurt herself trying not to scream I TOLD YOU SO from Kansas to California. But I'm needing thoughts and advice, so I'm going for it.

When I volunteered in N's classroom on Thursday, I saw a few things that upset me; clear regressions and some not-so-clear issues. For instance, apparently N has been hiding behind the play-corner furniture during 'calendar time' each morning, when the rest of the kids sit in their place on the rug. So the teacher, Ms. F, came up with a 'compromise' and had given him a chair at the back of the rug to sit on. So there he is, elevated and differentiated from all his friends. Not Good.

He's also apparently decided that he no longer wants to sing along with/participate in the morning pledge of allegiance. Or, rather, he's turning his back on the class/the flag and covering his face with his hands and whispering the words to himself. The teacher is forcibly turning him around, but he just crumples to the floor when she does so. Not Good.

Later that morning, I heard her discussing with him the fact that it's his turn to be the Calendar Monitor. This is THE job in the classroom; the kid who stands up in front of the class and leads them in their morning calendar routine. He flatly told her he didn't want to do it. This is not surprising--it's entirely possible he wouldn't have felt safe enough to do it even if Mrs. W were still around--but it's a little disappointing nonetheless. Not Good.

So, at recess, I pulled Ms F. aside and asked her if it would be OK with her if I called in the school psych to maybe have a look at N. She agreed that it could be useful, but then hit me with her own, not-entirely-unexpected shot: We might want to keep in the back of our minds the possibility of retaining him in kindergarten next year.

My immediate reaction was strongly, physically negative. The kid's turning six in a week; it's not like he's at all a young kindergartener. He's doing fine academically. (Well, sort of. Some of his fine motor skills leave a bit to be desired. His coloring and drawing are pretty awful. But he's not the only one in that boat.) And it would hurt MY PRIDE if my kid were held back. Ugly, but true.

Since then, I've had the chance to think about it (obsessively) for a few days. And, pride aside, I'm still pretty much against it, for a number of reasons, the main one being that I think it's a cop-out, this whole "you'd be giving him another year" thing:

Another year to grow?
He'll still be shortest kid in kindergarten; he's that far behind physically. The kid's adult height AT FULL POTENTIAL will be around 5' 4", and it's not that likely he'll hit that, considering his growth delays as an infant. He's going to have to deal with being short his whole life. No getting around it. Not a reason to hold him back, especially since the one year won't put him ahead of his peers physically.

Another year to mature? That one's a little trickier. But here it is: If there is a reason for the way he is--a developmental delay, an anxiety disorder, whatever--next year? Same story. He'll still hide behind his hands when asked to come up to the board. He'll still refuse to be calendar monitor. He's been like this since he was 2, or even younger. This isn't a maturity issue. It's something else, though God help me, I still can't find a label for what it IS.

Another year to learn?
Fuck that shit. (Sorry, Mom.) But, see, I did call the school psych--unfortunately, a new one, not the one who knows him from his previous assessments and said she'd be watching out for him in kindy--and yes, she's going to go observe him in the classroom on Monday for a while (and apparently already stopped by on Thursday after my call to talk to the teacher a little). And she made a point of telling me on the phone that he was unlikely to qualify for services, BECAUSE HE IS DOING FINE ACADEMICALLY. And thus, retaining him? Seems to me just an easy way out. If he's doing fine enough to not qualify for services (a bullshit--sorry again, Mom--assertion if ever I heard one, and yes, I'll fight that), then he's doing well enough to go on to first grade.

In other words, retention sounds to me like, "We don't know how to help him, so we'll just hold him back and hope that he can help himself."

Clearly, these extra days to 'think about things'? Haven't really calmed me down much.

We're already dealing with some of the individual issues (bribery is my friend; he sat nicely on the rug on Friday with the rest of the kids after being told that his precious half-hour of TV in the morning was hereafter dependent on his doing so). But the larger issue can't be bribed away. It needs to be dealt with. And retention, to me, doesn't seem to deal with it.

So, now, have at it. Tell me why I'm wrong. Or right. Or what I can do to make it all better, aside from turning back time and chaining Mrs. W to her desk so she can't leave.

[I'm not even telling you about the social stuff--like how nobody wanted to be in N's group for reading when he was picking. Luckily, he seems fairly oblivious to the fact that nobody asks him over for playdates and that moms yes me to death but then basically avoid me when I try to set them up myself. That won't last, either.]

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