BOY's Pre-K teacher met with us a couple of weeks ago and expressed concern that he was not functioning as well as the other children in his age group. (There are both 4 and 5 year olds in his class. BOY is in the younger range, having just turned 4 in November. The plan is for BOY to get a bonus year by doing Pre-K again next year.)
Some of the examples she gave were:
- that he speaks out during circle time saying, "Are we done yet? & Is it over?"
- that he was not able to complete more than 2 step tasks.
- that sometimes when he was asked to do something he did something else.
Hello! Maybe we are describing a 4 year old here?!
She was open to them learning new ways to connect with him, but also wanted us to consider that he might have an auditory processing disorder.
My GOD, the boy is only 4! And all I see when I look at BOY is the phenomenal growth and maturation that he has had, especially over the last 8 months. When he first started going to daycare part-time, at a little over 2 years old, he couldn't even sit still for a circle time story. He had to sit in his teacher's lap. Then came the next step, which was to sit next to the teacher. Now, he can sit in his spot for the duration of a story, but sometimes has a problem staying for the whole story. At 2 1/2 he had a handful of words. Now, he not only has a huge vocabulary, but is creative in his expressive thoughts and choice of words.
After our meeting, when it had all sunk in, I wanted to say: Shouldn't we gauge his development by his progression, rather than holding him to a standard of comparison to the other children in his age group? And if so, shouldn't we acknowledge what he IS doing, rather than focusing on what he isn't doing? And don't you think that maybe, he could be picking up on these expectations?
Why should a child be judged on his development by his birthdate? Do all of us develop at the same rate? Does a timer go off at 3 or 4 years old and PING we're nailing everything that we're supposed to get? No, I don't think so. Why I should have doubted this, even for a moment, is sad to me. But, I am still taking tentative steps sometimes, with BOY being my first child. And avoiding these parenting pot holes is tough. As I learned almost a year ago, when BOY started potty training at 3 years and 2 months old... every child has to do it at his own pace. Everyone is unique. Potty training will definitely make you check your preconceptions at the door.
But, as a good parent, you certainly want to acknowledge a teacher's concerns. So, we met Monday with the preschool special education group from our local public school district. E, myself and BOY were there for about an hour and a half. The room was a playroom environment, with a conference table at one end where we could sit, and BOY was able to have a free-for-all, with brief periods of directed activity at a table. There was a team of people in the room: a School Psychologist, an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, and a Speech and Language Pathologist.
The evaluation consisted of: "an interview with the parents, language sample, file review of previous OT & speech/language reports, play-based observations, cognitive, pre-academic, social, emotional, communication, gross motor & fine motor."
Their findings were this: "BOY is developing typically in all domains at this time. Consideration of teacher's/classroom's high academic expectations, and BOY's developmental level."
My findings were this: They thought he was a perfectly normal boy in a school with high expectations. He is active, incredibly creative and imaginative in play. But, there is no mystery or needed diagnosis here. Just a boy who is operating at his own speed, who needs to be recognized for who he is and allowed to be ...himself.
Yesterday was one of those life altering days for me. I learned so much. And every single person on the evaluation team was helpful. I got book recommendations, resources for researching boys, and I now have a new passion... discovering how boys learn differently than girls. And how children assimilate individually, uniquely, as themselves. Most of all, I took away this ...my gut instinct is rarely wrong. I just need the confidence to trust my gut instinct as a mother.