Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Parent/Teacher Interviews and a Fancy Plan
We have just had our parent/teacher interview for the Pink Kid. She’s only in prep, so you don’t expect many problems… But it turns out that while the Pink Kid is very well-behaved, pliable and eager for teacher approval, there is a lack of willingness to push herself beyond the minimum requirement. She’s managed to avoid learning the Golden Words (this is a list of the most common words in English – “the”, “that”, “this”, “if” and so on, including "so" and "on") and always chooses the easiest take-home books to read.
Well, we kind of knew this. Pink Kid is very cute and has adopted some charming attitudes and engaging manners. It has become much easier for Pink Kid to “oversee” than to “do”. With a helpless sigh and a politely worded request for help, she finds many willing volunteers. Blue Kid, surprisingly, can be cajoled into many things and tantrumed into others.
“I can’t change the channel on the television.”
Blue Kid can and does.
“I can’t do up my button.”
Blue Kid can and does.
“I can’t do this on my DS.”
Blue Kid can, but she might have trouble getting it back from him, because I have banned him and confiscated his.
Recently, she accompanied me on my morning inspection of rooms. We went past Blue Kid’s room and to my surprise, he’d made his bed and “cleaned up” (shoved all toys and dirty clothes under the bed). In any event, I thought I could make some mileage out of this…
“Look, isn’t Blue Kid a good boy!” I said pointedly to Pink Kid, “He’s cleaned his room and made his bed!!”
“Yes, that’s wonderful!” she replied enthusiastically.
Moving on down the hall, I came to her room…
“Oh, no!” I said in mock horror, “What happened here??” – the bed was unmade and every Barbie Doll and Pony she owned was scattered amongst yesterday’s clothes on the floor.
“Oh, Blue Kid didn’t have time to clean up here before he went to school,” she replies.
So you get the picture. Pink Kid is trying to sail through life on the back of female helplessness. I cannot abide this. It must cease. So we’re not helping the Pink Kid anymore.
Furthermore, we have implemented a reading program, and we don’t accept the plaintively delivered “No! You read it to me!” anymore. She must read. And none of those easy word books.
“Here,” I said, last night, throwing Fancy Nancy on the bed, “read this to me.”
Fancy Nancy is a favourite. It fulfills all the requirements for Kid Like – “FUNNY”, “BEAUTIFUL” and “SHINY”. It’s very pink, with glitter on the front cover! The illustrations are very cute and funny, and, of course Nancy’s views about conducting a fancy life are shared wholeheartedly by the Pink Kid. Fancy Nancy, whilst pink, shiny and funny, avoids being trivial, and is clever and engaging enough not to annoy the adult who thinks she might be reading this one often.
We’ve only had the book a short time, so Pink Kid doesn’t know it off by heart, but she has heard it at least twice. So even though it is well above her reading level, I want her to work out the words by sounding out and story context.
And she did a remarkably good job. As a matter of fact, the only words she did seem to have trouble with were the Golden Words! When I reminded her to sound out the letters, she often read those correctly too. She even managed to sound out the French words like “merci” and “peignoir” – with a good Aussie accent (I had to tell her the ‘g’ was silent, though…).
So we’ll continue on my reading regime and I will refuse to dumb it down for her. Any story I would read to her, I will now expect that she reads to me. I will try to add intellectual rigour to a child with great emotional intelligence… by refusing to be sucked in!