Monday, November 2, 2009

Mixed Reviews

Good morning! Well, as if last week was not busy enough with scans, Friday concluded our predominantly non-working week with a day full of parent/teacher conferences. Thankfully, though, these were planned. The surprise ones are the ones that you have to watch out for. We spent time with each of the kiddos teachers. We went over all of their work and got an idea of where they fit in within their classes.

Going into the meetings, my biggest concerns were for Graham. Don't get me wrong, Graham is a smart little boy. As I had mentioned a few weeks ago though, he had some areas that needed to be improved and these fell into the category of parent failures, not Graham failures. Here is were the rub comes in. As we began working with Graham we found that he was having a lot of difficulty memorizing his sight words. No matter how much we worked with him it seemed as though the moment we took a break everything we had gone over would mysteriously leak out of his brain. It had no staying power.

If I am being honest I am much the same way. It is impossible for me to memorize things. I have to understand and comprehend. However, once I reach that threshold it is remembered forever and better yet I can apply it and add on to the knowledge quickly and easily. The problem is getting over that first hump. I suspect this is the issue with Graham. Regardless, we were still concerned. After meeting with the teacher we found that Graham truly was like his dad. There were many areas were he excelled in recalling material from memory. Clearly, we were teaching him this particular task (and others) the wrong way. Straight memorization was not going to work for him. Now the trick was in finding out how his brain remembers things so that we can teach him to apply it. If we can help him over this hurdle he truly is home free. The boy is doing well in school but he will be doing much better if we can get him through this. Looking at his evaluation was interesting. He either did great - well above the curve - or he failed miserably (by our standards). The consistencies were in tasks requiring straight memorization. So, it seems, for Graham we have a solution on the horizon. We just have to figure out what it is.

In the end, I came out most pleased. The things I have neglected to mention were all of the things that are right with Graham. It is evident that we are growing a truly wonderful and compassionate human being. I am proud. He is a good seed.

Sydney's evaluation was great. We identified some areas where we could help her improve but for the most part it was a stellar review. How much can you say. She received straight A's and her behaviour was considered better than satisfactory. She is truly succeeding in this environment. We just have to continue to support her success by challenging her.

Ainsley's evaluation was a bit different and, if I am being honest, I give it absolutely no credibility at all. Frankly she received zeros in several areas where we know she knew the material. It was clear that she did not understand the instructions of the test she was being given. Even the teacher admitted this must have been the problem but could not really recall any specifics. Ainsley simply refused to take parts of the test by saying that she could not do them. Things that we know she knows. There was no apparent attempt to correct this or to find out what has going on. I assume that was a characteristic of the testing procedures but I still would have liked to known what the issue was. They simply gave her a zero and moved on. It was frustrating. We had little, if anything, to go off of and we never had the opportunity to evaluate her based on what she truly does or does not know. So, what I do have is history, I don't like comparing my kiddos but I can tell you with experience that Ainsley is a superbly bright little girl. In fact, I would say she is much farther ahead than either Graham or Sydney were at this point. I am sure there are areas where she needs improvement but I have no idea of what they are. It that sense it was a disappointing meeting at best.

Well, I hate to end on a sour note, but there is a mountain of work awaiting me. As you might expect I have about a week's worth piled on my desk. I also have an article on brown fat and MIBG that I am getting reviewed and hope to post later this week. It will be a busy one.

As always, it will be filled with purpose first.

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