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A, C, L, O, S, X and Z.

Those are the letters I KNOW my 4-year-old daughter recognizes.

And if I push?  She also knows the sound of M and can usually pick out Bs and Ds.

So how many letters is that?

Don’t ask her at school.  She won’t have a clue.

As demonstrated by the interim evaluations sent home by her teacher.

Here’s the most recent one:

eval_picDon’t speak French?

No worries!  There isn’t technically a box for that, so that isn’t being evaluated this month.

But regardless of measurables, allow me to translate:

Checkmarks on left = good.

Checkmarks on right = not so good.

Her not so goods this month: she doesn’t colour in the lines; she doesn’t cut in straight lines; she doesn’t match colours with numbers and she doesn’t sight read the names of her friends.

That said, she’s rockin’ the religious teachings (totally “gets” Easter), sort of understands the seasons and sometimes know when to ask for help.

This is the second such evaluation to come home in as many months.

The previous one was equally demoralizing.

Last month it was pointed out that she continues to struggle with letter recognition and printing.

That one came accompanied with a request for a scheduled phone call with the teacher.

‘Round about then I found this pin and thought YES!  Yet another reason to love the Simpsons.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the updates. And the opportunity to speak with her teacher.

My frustration is mainly with the fact that:

A) It’s nothing I didn’t know and didn’t flag to both the current school and preschool last year.  So these are ongoing acknowledged challenges that we’re all working on.  A reminder she isn’t there yet does nothing but … remind me she isn’t there yet.  It’s not like I’m going to get the report and spontaneously “busy bag activity” her into a letter recognizing, circle colouring, square cutting maven.  If it was that simple, I would have done it already.

B) It just seems a bit …. harsh …. for junior kindergarten.

Because, honestly?

It’s not like I don’t know my child has the attention span of Dory in Finding Nemo. Her dance instructor (God bless her – and the fact that my daughter apparently has the religious education to help ensure that happens) jokes that my daughter dances happily in her own galaxy while the rest of the class does the routine around her.  She’s been (at least?) four sessions with the same instructor and while she’s improving, I don’t see a stint in the NAC Ballet Corps in her future.

I'd never want my child to be the side-kick, but as far as happy oblivious rays or sunshine go?  My eldest has it nailed.  Source here: http://weheartit.com/entry/110558973?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=image_share&utm_source=tumblr

I’d never want my child to be the side-kick, but as far as happy oblivious rays of sunshine go? My eldest has it nailed. Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/110558973?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=image_share&utm_source=tumblr

But I have to love the free spirit that rule-following me never was.

I also know fine motor is a challenge – and so, cutting, and colouring, and writing – have always lagged.

She’s just not interested.  She’s too busy telling you all about the adventures she’s been having with baby tigers and mermaids in the magical land where they can all live together in harmony while she plays in the kitchen of the castle where Daddy works (decode: Parliament Hill) with Spiderman.

This is the painting over the couch in our living room.  A gift from the father of the best man at our wedding.  I love it.  But for my daughter?  This is the underwater castle where magic happens!

This is the painting over the couch in our living room. A gift from the father of the best man at our wedding. I love it. But for my daughter? This is the underwater castle where magic happens!

I love that she rocks imagination and pretend play.

As her parent my main concerns when she started kindergarten were:

A) That she was behind in language because I’m English and despite Dad speaking French to her from birth and a year of French preschool, while she understood, she wasn’t speaking it;

B) That she wouldn’t make friends, or would be prone to bullying because she’s shy;

C) That she’d have an “accident” at school because we were still working out the fine points of potty training.

On those points?  The year has been a stunning success.

  • She is singing and speaking happily in both English and French now.
  • We had a bullying moment early on, but the school was wonderful in addressing it once flagged, she’s been invited to birthdays, she’s friends with boys and girls in her class; and I met her close friends one day when parents were invited to class and they were wonderful.
  • We’ve never yet had to whip out the back-up undies at school.

Basically?  We’re good on the EQ and socialization stuff and I’m grateful.

The reading, writing and numeracy front?

I’m pretty confident it will come in time.

And it’s not like we aren’t helping at home.

Which brings me back to the parental frustration at hand.

Because I’m not sure what more we can do other than sit and drill her with flash cards and drain any joy there might be from the learning of it all.

Since December, when she mastered holding scissors, we’ve let her cut any paper in our home into confetti.  We’ve also guided her through a number of cutting and craft exercises to encourage control.

In early January, we signed up for a month and a half of evening family math nights to help improve number recognition.

And three weekends ago, spurred by our first month of “constructive feedback” I took her out to Scholar’s Choice to purchase a few games, aids and crafty tools to help at home.

Since then we’ve been playing Alphabet Bingo multiple times a week and finding letters here, there, and everywhere.

And when we get bored of/master that?  We’ve got Go Fish! Concentration and a few other games we thought would be fun.

We also read together.  Nightly.  Which we’ve done from birth.

We’ve taken her for two hearing tests.

We’ve done First Words (the first step here to refer a child under five to speech therapy/additional help if needed).

First in English, when she was two and not speaking in ANY language.

And we’ll most likely do it again next week (if I can get the day off work) in French, upon recommendation of the school.

I love their concern for my child.

I appreciate the need for milestones and benchmarks.

I just wonder about concrete measures on the development of preschoolers.

My brother had similar issues at this age.

Like my daughter, he was “young” for kindergarten.  A fall baby.  Making him – and my daughter – almost a year younger than the eldest children in their class.

I don’t mean to make excuses, but at 4?  That’s a lot of living.

As with my daughter, teachers expressed concerns over my brother’s speech skills.

Because he didn’t really speak much. And he wasn’t super engaged much of the time.

They wondered if he had a hearing problem.

They recommended my mother take him for a hearing test.

Like me, she was a good parent – eager to collaborate with the teachers who would help raise her child.

So she took him for the test.

He sat in the booth and was informed he would hear a bird “tweet” in one ear and he should tell them what ear he heard it from.

I repeat here, there were concerns about both his hearing and speech skills.

Upon this instruction, he voiced the following opinion:

“You want an ear?  You pick an ear!”

His audiologist, much like my daughter’s, concluded there was nothing wrong with his hearing.

The issue lied instead with his interest.  And when school finally interested him?  He excelled.  He now has a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering.

I’m of the opinion my daughter falls into this “later bloomers/later give a crap” group.  I certainly don’t want her to fall behind.  I’ll keep encouraging her.  But I find the need to balance it with understanding her personality and the fact that … she’s just four!

Anyone out there have any tips for kids that are struggling with fine motor skills and concentration?  I’d love to hear from you!

I’m linking this up with Meredith’s Manic Mondays over at Perfection Pending.

Perfection Pending

Have a great week kids!  Here’s hoping my eldest learns a few more letters before we meet again! I’m thinking she masters the letter M and maybe G in the near future.  Or P.  And here’s hoping I learn something from you guys!