Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adjusting to New School - Week 2

Yesterday Frost had his first playdate with a new school friend. His friend is called Carter and he and Frost eat lunch together and play basketball at recess. Frost says he is good at soccer but Carter is good at basketball.

The playdate was at Carter's house and it went well - they had icecream, played Lego and looked at Pokemon cards. Carter's family moved from Amsterdam to the US a bit over a year ago and so they are still in the instability of immigration (even though they seem to have little to no accent) which must be hard. They seemed charming and Carter was bright eyed and attentive which made Frost seem like a bouncy bunny talking all the time. Sigh. Whenever Frost is anxious or meets new people he gets frantic and talks all the time and I start to reach for explanations and excuses about why my child is such a lunatic.

Have you ever felt embarrassed about your kid in front of other adults? I just seem to feel that a lot recently as we move into a new community and I am doing my nice "getting to know you" behavior he seems to be at his most uncomfortably bouncy and out of step with me.

Last night I spoke with his teacher about his handwriting. Coming from KapKa we had an idea that Frost struggled to produce PRODUCT. Still, the burden of writing is large at his new school - everything from Math to Reading to Social Science is centered around writing your thoughts down or explaining your observations. Frost struggles to keep up with these and it is affecting his ability to do the homework. He is very self critical - saying "I suck", "I am no good at this" and "everyone else writes 7 sentences while I write 1 line."

His teacher suggested the following strategies:

1) Try to start him on cursive. Cursive is going to be taught over the whole year, this might give him a chance to be ahead and learn his letters correctly from the start, doing practice ahead of the class rather than feeling behind.
2) WRiting in a wider lined composition book (they have fine ruled books).
3) Allowing dictation for answers to math worksheets and additional practice writing from a workbook.
4) Correcting his errors in mixing case, starting from the line etc.
5) Encouraging lists and shorter sentences to continue to "get his ideas out" in writers workshop.
6) IF practice and support aren't working within 2 months, refer him to a SIT evaluation with an OT present. This is a special evaluation team which would identify the problem and then assign someone to work with him 2 times a week to give him special intervention on writing. We hope he won't need this.

My Dad tells a story of how he was almost held back to repeat Kindergarten because his handwriting was so bad. My granny had to go and argue (advocate in today's parlance) with the teachers to get him a PASS. My dad is very clever and I hope it is just a sign of our family writing disability coming through. Josh also had terrible handwriting (he says) and mine was awfully messy and always full of red ink on tests (but I blame that on having to write italic font with a messy fountain pen. Who would credit it!).

Got to run home now. Wish me luck with Job Application #2 going in tomorrow.

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