Thursday, April 30, 2009

assessment: too cool for school

This was "one of those weeks". I wasn't looking forward to it because I had so much scheduled, and a lot of it wasn't particularly fun. This week the twins had soccer practice, Erin had a doctor's appointment, I had a filling replaced, there was a parent-principal meeting at the elementary school, Erin had softball practice one weeknight and a softball game another weeknight (with me as snack mom this week). This in addition to my working 3 days and having laundry to stay ahead of and food to shop for and such.

Also this week, all three girls had their six-month dental exams and I find that nothing in this world makes me feel so scrutinized as a parent as having the integrity of my kids' tooth enamel evaluated. I guess it's all the questions.

First, each of them are taken to a separate exam chair to a separate cubicle sort-of examination area within the dental office to have their x-rays taken and their teeth cleaned, then the dentist calls me in with him to start making the rounds:

Dental hygienist, as dentist looks on to see my reaction and my responses: "Are you brushing regularly for them? TWICE a day?"
"AFTER meals?"
"Are you flossing their teeth before bedtime? EVERY night?"
"How long do you spend brushing their teeth?"

Now, I approached this round of appointments with a clear conscience because I really have been diligently brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing every night. REALLY. I mean, REALLY, I have. In addition, John and I totally focused on getting Allison to stop her thumb-sucking after her last check-up and she hasn't sucked her thumb at all in probably 5 months. We rule! I thought.

Somehow, though, they seemed less than convinced by my answers. More questions:
"Are you incorporating an ADA-approved fluoride rinse after brushing and flossing?"

D'oh!!!! Got me on the rinse thing!

Erin's exam went well, Kate's exam went well. Allison has a cavity that is significant enough that she'll need a filling between two of her little baby teeth. Holy cow, I'VE failed--failed at providing optimal dental hygiene on my daughter's behalf, and, thus, failed as a parent. Proof is right there on the x-ray.

More questions:
Dental hygienist: "Are you allowing her to drink SODAS?"
(No, never)
"Does she drink a lot of juice?"
"Does she chew gum frequently?"
(No, never.)

"But she's totally stopped sucking her thumb!" I volunteered in an effort to salvage my rapidly sinking ship of parental worthiness.

Dental hygienist: "Oh...good. she given candy and such frequently?"
(No, only rarely.)

That indignity suffered and the appointment for the filling made, we left, and proceeded on with our busy week which included an appointment this morning at the elementary school for a inconsequential little formality called a kindergarten assessment for the twins--something all incoming kindergartners have to do.

Each child is taken aside to by evaluated by a kindergarten teacher for 15 minutes, during which they are asked questions and tested on some basic readiness skills. The twins already had a kindergarten assessment at their preschool about two months ago and nothing out of the ordinary was noted. They were described as normal in all areas and ready to move on.

As it turns out, the teacher doing the assessments this morning was Erin's current K/1 teacher (each child stays with a teacher for 2 grades), so she already knew us somewhat. She tested Allison first and then when she returned with Kate and I looked at her to hear the short, predictable summary of her impressions, she had a strange look on her face instead.
"How...did it go?" I asked.
"Well..." and she paused.
"Well..." I continued, "is something wrong?"
"Well..." she paused again.
"Aren't they ready to come to kindergarten?" I asked bluntly.
" might want to consider......probably.......not."

And we had a short chat about this. Academically, she thinks they don't have any problems. Socially, maturity-wise...there are apparently some concerns. Or potential concerns. Kate is more the subject of concerns than Allison. Apparently, when the teacher asked Kate to write her name and draw this and that and sound out this and that and etc, Kate, ever the contrarian, always responded, "No, I don't want to do that now." The thing is, that sort of conduct won't fly in kindergarten. She has to do what she's instructed to do by her teacher.

What are we to think when the preschool teacher who has known them for nearly the past entire year thinks one thing and the kindergarten teacher we have known for the past two years thinks another thing? This potentially puts a gigantic wrench into our plans for the near future.

Through the day I had a talk with the elementary school principal and the preschool director. I'm looking for someone, somewhere to tell me definitively that they absolutely should go on to elementary school or they absolutely shouldn't, but no one will do that. And of course the gravity of our making this decision correctly, and quickly, is impressed upon us by everyone. Ultimately, it's our call to make and our lifetime of consequences to deal with if we screw this decision up. Not that this is causing us any anxiety or anything.

So John and I have some things to explore and mull over and discuss this over the next week or two, during which a second-opinion kindergarten assessment with another teacher will likely be conducted. We may have a case of two girls who are just too cool for school this August. At least that's what we may have to tell them.


Anonymous said...

No Way!!! Your girls, Kate and Allison are diffentitly ready for kindergarden. I am a kindergarden teacher and i know i would be lucky to have them in my kindergarden class. They would be great in kindergarden. do not let some kindergarden assesment stop you from enrolling the girls in kindergarden this year. Anyway i just wanted to voice my opinion on this topic. Also I wanted to say that i Love your blog and that my girls are always on it too. And we really need to get together this summer again. my girls are dying to see the twins and erin again.

MommaWriter said...

Yikes. Sounds like it was a rough week! Good luck figuring all of that stuff out. I seem to remember you having some momentary doubts about Erin too and it looks like she's done just fine...

That's hard stuff to think about. I don't envy you one bit. I certainly hope I'm not hearing any such thing after Mam's evaluation on Monday!


MommaWriter said...

p.s. I swear I take better care of my teeth than most people I know and I still have all kinds of fillings. It totally sucks, but some teeth just aren't that robust, apparently!

Jeff McCall said...

Dang....Im sure glad we dont have assessment down here to add more confusion to an already hard decision. If unsure what about a Kinder Plus program so if they do need an extra year...there ya go.

You know your girls....go with your gut.

mommieN. said...

I don't get it -- in 15 minutes they can dismiss years of preparation because a 4-year-old feels like playing a control game at the moment? What exactly is going to change in a year, she's going to magically become submissive and obedient? (I hope not, I think Kate is awesome!)

You got flak about Erin's readiness too, and she did just fine. Late-birthday prejudice, perhaps?

BTW, our (woulda been yours) school stopped doing evals because parents ignored the recommendations and put their kids in K anyway.

Put them in K, and worst case is they have to repeat.

mommieN. said...

One more thing...this thing with Kate eval'd as not being ready because she refuses to do something ... this bugs me! I'm no knee-jerk feminist, but would the exact same behavior from a boy would be perceived as "independence" instead of "not ready"? Are girls expected to be more agreeable?

This hits close to home, 'cause we are in serious trouble if a girl's resistance becomes criteria against school.

(p.s. you floss all three every night...? thank you SO much for passing on that parental guilt!)