This week, we had parent/teacher conferences at the girls’ school.
I hesitate to write about it, not wanting to lead to any comparison of the girls, fit them into boxes, or make general assumptions about where they are and what that means. But I desperately WANT to write it down so that I can look back in a few months, a few years and see where they’ve come from. We knew going into the conferences that both were/are wonderfully made by God and that He made them very different from one another. We could even guess, after working with them here at home on homework, what their weaknesses and strengths were, but it was helpful to hear it from their teachers and to hear how we can be a better help to them.
So, that said, here’s where we are.
Last year at this point, we were still in Oklahoma, and when we met with Emma’s pre-K teacher, she shared with us that Emma wasn’t getting her letters. She couldn’t remember them, write them, or tell her much of anything that started with those letters, with the exception of “W,” which she said was “Papi’s letter!” She was able to cut, paste, and color better than most her age, though, and her teacher took special care to tell me that Emma always participated in big groups. (I think this means that she was loud and plenty social.)
This year, of course, we started off where we left off in pre-K last winter, with just a bit of supplement from what I was doing here at home last spring with her. Her teacher says that she recognizes all of her letters and knows what sounds most of them make. She can count well in English and Spanish both, and she can pick out rhyming words without any difficulty. When tested over it, she remembered the majority of her sight words, and she’s already earned all the AR points that she needs to have by December.
As far as reading goes, she’s not quite there yet. She struggles to understand some of the math terms/concepts in her Spanish class, and even when she’s sent to try to learn the same terms/concepts in English, she still doesn’t understand. (“More and less” was one of the concepts, but as you can see from the picture, she figured it out once we made it about food, lol!) She has picked up the Spanish phrase for asking to go to the restroom (which is good, I guess), but she’s still very quiet during group time in Spanish. Her teacher told me that this is normal and that Emma is likely understanding more than she’s able to communicate at this point but that I should encourage her to try to speak in Spanish. I’m amazed at the thought that she COULD do this, but her teacher assures me that she can and will soon.
Emma was praised for being sweet and kind, for playing well with her other classmates, and for being super social, to the extent that she walks down the hall and visits with everyone — teachers, aides, students, administrators, bus drivers, etc. I think this is a pretty great quality, don’t you?
Ana’s teachers began the conference by telling me that they’re recommending Ana for GT testing based on some of her out of the box tendencies. They went on to tell me that she’s reading well above her grade level and that she’s just a few points away from having the AR points she needs by December. Her Spanish teacher told me that Ana understands everything said to her in Spanish and asked if she’s started speaking Spanish outside of class. I mentioned that she tries to have conversations with a bilingual AWANA classmate (conversations which I think are only partially Spanish and mainly gibberish), and her teacher said that any effort at this point was wonderful. Ana understands all of her math terms and concepts in both English and Spanish and does word problems by reading entirely in Spanish. (Holy cow, y’all!)
Her kryptonite is and has always been her fine motor skills, a weakness that shows itself in her tiny, light handwriting. Her English teacher has switched her from lined paper to regular notebook paper to help compensate, but even still, Ana has enough trouble with writing that she sometimes misses spelling words because her letters don’t look like they should. I’ve already been working with her on this, noticing that her “n”s and “h”s look too much alike, but we’ve still got some work ahead of us.
Ana was praised for being “high achieving,” for helping others out, and for being self-motivated to do her work. She was tested recently on what she’s supposed to know at this point in the school year, as a second year dual language student, and she made a perfect score, despite the fact that she started off a full year behind the rest of the class. Why did I worry about this?
We’re very proud of where the girls are, and I’m super thankful to have been given some direction from their teachers as to what I can do to help the girls do even better.