Tell Me What to Say!

You guys, you are the smartest parenting people I know and, besides being clever and charming, you always know just the right thing to say.  So, I come knocking to ask you about parent-teacher conferences.

No, you read that right.  Parent-of-two-year-old-teacher conferences.  For what it’s worth, we also had parent-of-six-month-old-teacher conferences.  I think we can all agree that there is plenty to contemplate around this subject.  Since there’s no getting out of it, I’ve been viewing it as parent-teacher practice, because lord knows I’m going to need it the first time I have to sit down at a tiny desk and hear how my child always colors the animals the wrong color and appears apathetic about kickball scores.

So, in the name of practice, I take these conferences rather seriously, and I really enjoy hearing how smart and talented RR is.  We haven’t had the experience of NOT hearing how smart and talented she is but, my friends, I think it’s coming.

We’ve been in a new class since September with three brand new teachers and 100% more kids (15 instead of six).  RR cried.  We were frustrated.  Seems that our new class is a lot more kindergarten and a lot less daycare.    Instead of hearing funny anecdotes about our kid each day, we hear nothing except a constant refrain of, “RR won’t use her walking feet.  RR forgets her gentle hands.”  Our efforts to press a little to find out more about the situation were met with edge-of-hostile blank stares, even when we clarified that we wanted to understand so that we could be consistant at home in similar situations.  I thought that was good!  Right? Right?!

We tried asking different teachers about the situation and found that they all had different concerns.  This one hates running.  That one hates pushing.  And dude, I get that.  I also get that RR doesn’t understand or care about lines or marching quietly to the playground.  She wants to run dammit, always has.  Yes, I am aware that she needs to learn rules and boundaries in order to be successful in school.  No, I still don’t agree that we should stop two-year-olds from running on the way to the swings.  I’m totally reckless like that, you guys.  As for the pushing, RR has the personal space of a pack of rabid coyotes but there aren’t any overzealous huggers or passionate sharers at home so we have to rely on the teachers to continue taming our little ball of prickly.

So here’s the question: Our parent teacher conference is Monday and we expect to hear more of the same running/pushing complaint.  How do we a) address these issues that we’ve discussed day in and day out for weeks without sounding like assholes and b) solicit some of the good feedback about RR while not being dismissive of their concerns?

Help us be awesome.

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11 Responses

  1. Two year olds come with a non-running speed?

  2. I’m with Becky — how ridiculous that the pre-school would expect 2-year olds to NOT run on the playground?

    I understand that as parents, we want to ingratiate ourselves with our children’s teachers, because to do otherwise (i.e. piss them off) means that our children will probably bear the brunt of their teachers’ disdain for US.

    HOWEVER. She’s 2. She runs; she asserts herself. I’m not advocating asshole-ish-ness, but I would say to the teachers,

    “Thanks for letting us know. We’ll continue to reinforce those values at home.”

    And then move on to the next subject. I would not give that any more energy than simple acknowledgement. Because crap. Seriously??!!

    • Thank you for that excellent sentence. I’m definitely going to put it to good use! I’ll let you know how it goes! PS my current awesomeness is due completely to your own!

  3. PS: You don’t need help being awesome. You already are.

  4. I second both Becky and Madeline. Remember too, you can always switch schools and find one that has lots of movement and activity that challenges RR in a fun way and lets her burn it off.

    • We know there are some other great options in town and if our schedules would permit it, we’d be in a montessori school in a heartbeat. I imagine that if we keep on in this way, next year we might be headed that direction.

  5. That’s ridiculous. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m down in n’s school a lot, and I’m constantly hearing the teachers help the kids with running/hands/etc etc, but they also all know it is TOTALLY NORMAL for toddlers, and so it doesn’t get talked about with the parents unless it’s An Issue, in which case everybody sits down together to talk about what can be done together to help resolve the situation.

    (also, the kids are given a TON of time to run around and get crazy energy out.)

    I like what the others have said. If you want to TRY, you can ask (again) what you can do at home to help continue what they’re doing at school.

    Does it make you feel any better if I tell you that n came home with her first ‘incident report’ today? She ran into another kid while outside, and got a bloody lip and cut the other girl’s cheek. whooo.

    • Wow, throwing down on the playground sure does start early! 😉

      That’s helpful to know from a school perspective that it’s possible my instincts are right. It’s only one teacher who persists in making this the only thing she talks about. The other two only mention it if asked. I’m a proactive person in general so I want to get on top of this but not at a detriment to her growing and learning (even if that means she’s learning gentle hands). I know we’re both hoping that one of the other two teachers does the parent teacher conference, but if not, at least we’ll be meeting the problem head-on – whether it’s RR’s behavior, the teacher, or both.

  6. As a toddler and preschool teacher, I second the above comment. Two-year-olds do run and push, it’s true. As a teacher, if I were to mention it to a family it would be because the behavior was either a)excessive (i.e. the child in question almost never slows down and rarely has positive non-pushing interactions with other children) or b)was resulting in harm to herself and/or others (i.e. runs into furniture, falls a lot, and results in lots of those incident reports to other kids). When I have brought these issues up to families in the past, they usually ask me, “Is this normal?” and I say that yes, self-regulation is a work in progress for all twos, but that in this particular case, the child in question needs some extra support because…(see above). It’s great that you have asked how you can reinforce this at home, as a teacher it’s a wonderful question to hear. The only other things I would ask are, “Are there particular times of the day/transitions/circumstances during which these two issues are most apparent or problematic?” and “Can you tell me some concrete ways to address this, both at home and school?” Sometimes finding patterns of behavior is enormously helpful, and if they are just letting you know the difficult parts of her day with no solution, that’s a problem on their end, but not your fault!
    As to soliciting positive information about RR’s day, if they do not offer any by the end (and they should, so say I!) then it’s totally reasonable to just ask, “Can you tell me about the positive parts of RR’s day?” Believe me, it’s totally ok to revisit an issue, even if you’ve been talking about it all year. Do not question your awesomeness!

    • That is so helpful. It echos our approach and impressions so far. I don’t think it’s excessive, overly aggressive or constant, as least when we’ve tried to ascertain if that’s the case, they don’t seem to have anything detailed to say. We’re nervous about monday’s meeting – frankly, we’re just really tired of hearing that our child went from fantastic to sucktastic overnight. But, it is a PARENT teacher conference, so I hope we have equal time to share our concerns.

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