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Oh, the dread.

I never realized, as a child, that parent teacher conferences are wayyy worse for the parents than the kid. I have vague recollections of my mom going to a conference or two but I don’t think they were nearly as formal/scheduled as they are now. Hmmm, I wonder if she was stressed out over them. I’ll have to ask.

We were offered the opportunity on back-to-school night (heh, like we really had a choice) to schedule a conference with Ava’s teacher. For the record, back-to-school night was a month and a half ago so it wasn’t like a get to know you meeting but more of a ‘now I know your kid – let’s talk’ kind of thing. I’m not gonna lie. I was not looking forward to it (once the teacher kindly reminded us of our appointment date since I promptly forgot the date four seconds after signing up for it).

Kindergarten was hard for all of us. I’m not going to trash talk the teacher but it certainly wasn’t the kind of nurturing kindergarten experience that I’d had and that I’d hoped for Ava. I’ll just say that I knew very early on that the teacher was phoning it in and, lo and behold, she retired as soon as the year ended. ‘Nuff said.

First grade was better – mainly because Ava had an amazing teacher who really, really worked for and with us. Ava is chatty, VERY chatty, and we struggled with this behavior. She wasn’t a bad kid but wanted to talk way more than she wanted to work and was very focused on the social aspect of school as opposed to the educational piece. She did fine academically but the amount of homework she had each night made some of our evenings very hard. She cried, I cried, we both got stubborn and mad, and then it would take HOURS to complete worksheets, spelling words, 20 minutes of reading, and whatever other project needed doing. I really don’t blame the teacher – I understand how our current educational system works – but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. That said, Ava loved school and her first grade experience went a long way toward making up for the kindergarten year and for that I’m grateful. We had several conferences and very frequent email communication with her teacher which was good but got a little tiring when it so often communicated the same problem over and over again. Got it. She’s a talker. Trust me, I know that already.

So. Second grade.

Guess what? She’s still a talker. She still wants to be first at everything. And yes, she’s still bossy. But – her teacher went out of the way to tell us that Ava is kind, very kind, and is a wonderful bucket filler. She loves to help and seeks out extra jobs in the classroom. She likes to leave nice notes for her teachers and her friends. She actively tries to engage kids who might not have a friend to play with on the playground and is a special helper and friend to a little boy in her class who has a physical disability. It appears – gasp – that she is finally getting the concept of empathy and is putting it in practice. She is respectful (glad she is at school, at least) and doesn’t sulk or talk back (Ha – not so much here sometimes) when a negative behavior is corrected or redirected by her teachers.

We do have a few things to work on and are currently in the process of pursuing a formal diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder. She has been back in speech therapy for about 6 months now and there is concern that she is not very proficient at quickly processing verbal instructions. We discussed this with her teacher and offered some suggestions from the occupational therapist on ways to mitigate this such as ensuring she is seated in the front of the room where she can closely watch the teacher. Her teacher is more than willing to accommodate our requests and is also planning to do a little more written instruction – even if just for Ava – with a little less reliance on verbal instruction. All simple changes but her willingness to find what works for Ava speaks volumes to her commitment to teaching her kids.

Oh, and she doesn’t believe in homework unless absolutely necessary. She thinks their homework should mostly be reading each night and getting some time in for unstructured play. Yes, you read that right. No daily worksheets or twenty spelling words a week…it’s like heaven.

All in all, I didn’t hate this conference. In fact, it made my mama heart a whole lot of happy. The academic stuff will come in her time but hearing that she is kind and sweet and helpful and respectful means way more to me than what level she is currently reading on or what her understanding of current events or governmental structure is.

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