Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This post is part of Mama Kat's writing workshop.

Prompt:  A time you felt wronged by a teacher

When my youngest son was in Kindergarten my husband and I were so excited to see him finally begin his educational journey.  He was our last and final child to start school. And? He was brilliant! I mean our other kids, of course, were smart and bright (weren't yours?). But this one? This one was going to take the school like a storm. They would never know what hit them. He even chose to wear a tie on his first day of school. Yes. A tie. Because, as he used to say, he wanted to look “sharp.”

In his early years he wasn’t the most agile child. In fact, some (not me, his adoring mother) might even say he was a bit awkward. He was a little bit slow when he ran (he sort of lumbered like he was carrying twice his body weight) and he didn’t seem to have the natural athleticism that his older siblings had. It’s not that he was actually uncoordinated, he just approached things differently and had a different learning curve for things like riding a bike, rollerblading or anything, really, that required balance.  He did everything in his own time and in his own way. But not every child is supposed to come out of the womb as an athlete, right? That didn’t worry me...

Until his first Parent / Teacher conference.

It started out as I expected. You, know, with her telling me how brilliant my child was (Ha! confirmed by someone that didn't give birth to him!). How she was so impressed that he could recite the alphabet, knew all his colors, could identify animals by name and could count up to 20. Twenty, people! Sign him up for the gifted program, he was on the fast track to being a Rhode Scholar. Oh, and he was patient! He was helpful and polite with other children! He was social! The great news just kept coming and I ate it up. My mind was reeling, I had to process it while it was fresh so that I could repeat everything verbatim to my husband later that night as we toasted champagne to our genius, prodigy son. As this little fantasy was playing out in my head, I heard her say something about “concerns.” What did she say? I was confused. Concerns? She had concerns… about my son? I shook out of my revelry and tried to hone in on her words. “I’m sorry?” I said. “What was that?” 

“Er, um,” she looked like she was choosing her words carefully, “I was saying that he doesn’t know how to skip." Wait, what? He doesn’t know how to skip? Is skipping a requirement in Kindergarten? Were they going to hold him back? For not being able to skip? "And," she said (there was more?) "as you can see from some of his drawings that he doesn’t color in the lines. (to be honest, his drawings and coloring were a bit crude compared to the other students. Scribbles really.) I’ve also noticed that he doesn’t know how to grip a pencil. I’ve tried to show him how to do it correctly, and he tries, but as soon as I walk away he slips back into the incorrect way. And as you can see, it really affects how he is learning to write.”

Well I was in shock. Outraged even. The coloring thing was not so troublesome. He did not,after all, come from a family of artists. He was never really interested in coloring anyway. It would entertain him for a second, then he’d be done and want to move on to something else. The gripping the pencil thing? Well, I guess I just assumed he would figure it out. He was barely 5, this couldn’t be the end of the world, could it? I mean he would, eventually get it.. wouldn't he? She said that she was concerned (there was that word again) about the development of his fine motor skills and wanted us to meet with the school’s occupational therapist. The school had an occupational therapist

We met with the therapist, who agreed with the teacher, that our son’s fine motor skills were underdeveloped and gave us some activities for him to do at home to help improve them. We took their advice and had Jacob do some of the activities. I don’t know. Honestly? We didn’t really follow up with the activities or with the therapist. My husband and I agreed that our child was fine and just, as I previously mentioned, did things his own way and on his own time. 

Looking back I’m not really sure that there was an issue with his fine motor skills other than he just didn’t know how to access them yet. I think they were there, but just lying dormant, waiting to be discovered. Years later, now that he is 13, his fine motor skills are no longer dormant, nor are they an issue.  In fact, that slow, awkward kid has turned into quite the athlete. He does tricks on his skateboard that make my ankles hurt just watching. He plays ice hockey (where he knocks other kids down and scores goals) and runs a 6 minute mile (I can’t even run a 6 minute lap). He isn't quite the Rhode Scholar we envisioned but he does okay for himself, has friends and is happy.

And? I'm pretty sure I saw him skipping the other day. 


Kristy said...

You are exactly right - he hadn't had a chance yet to access it. There are lots of kids with these kind of concerns in kinder, not all of them need OT or intervention. Glad it all worked out just fine! He sounds like a wonderful boy!

Heather said...

It always come down to you knowing your child the best.

Happy he is doing okay despite not skipping when he was 5!

Stopping by from Writing Workshop

Maria said...

Some teachers just get overzealous and forget that not all kids develop skills at the same time. Great to hear that he got over those "concerns." :)

Mama Kat said...

Oh my gosh we had a similar experience for my oldests 1st conference too. She was doing everything right, but she couldn't skip yet. I was laughing all the way home...like why would you even bother pointing that out? I can't believe they would make such a big deal over things that clearly just take a little time to develop.