Pre-school Report Card Freak Out

Dr. D. and I are scheduled for D2’s first parent-teacher conference on Friday. In preparation for our discussion with his teacher, we received an emailed copy of his Toddler Progress Report a few days ago. Since this is Montessori, it’s not a report card per se but rather an update on his developmental progress. We’ll get to that in a minute. Now ordinarily, I’m a pretty calm person when it comes to parenting but I’ve realized that I’ve got the potential to morph into a Tiger Mom if I’m not careful. So we scan D2’s progress report. The report is broken up in to a few major sections: Order, Social Development/Work Habits, Gross-Motor Skill, Fine-Motor Skill, Language Development and Concentration. Each section is broken down into sub-traits each rated with an “I” for Introduced, “P” for Practiced and “C” for Competent. Right away I count up all of  the I’s the P’s and the C’s.

He’s got more I’s than C’s! I tell Dr. D. What? I’m shaking the report card in his face. He only got an I for “matches picture to picture”. We freaking practice this all the time! I’m apoplectic.  He gets all P’s for gross-motor skills and some fine-motor skills but is mostly I’s for Social Development/Work Habits. Great. My kid’s on the path to becoming a Wal-Mart greeter. Awesome.

Dr. D. says wait, aren’t you the one who is always reminding me that he’s only two and this is all about him learning to explore his environment and develop a love of learning? What happened to the crunchy California mom who was always putting down traditional education? He’s jerking my chain now. Look, this kid will be getting a full athletic and academic scholarship to any college he wants to go to in the country. We’ve got work to do.  Dr. D. smirks and rolls his eyes which ticks me off even more. Ah, there she is. Psycho Tiger Mom has finally made her first official appearance.

The kicker though is when we get to the teacher’ open comments section. Here is what was written verbatim:

[D2] has charmed many of us with his kisses. Our class greeter, D2 separates easily and likes the attention of others. As he explores the classroom and its boundaries, he is very interested in other children’s work. He is very strong and enjoys gross motor activities like climbing, carrying heavy objects, pushing things, sweeping and opening and closing things (especially the door). He loves water and wants to pour and fill everything. We are encouraging D2 to use gentle touch. His word repertoire has increased significantly.

Because I am totally paranoid about D2’s development, here’s what I read between the lines:

D2 is already showing signs of being a skirt chaser. Look at what’s happening to Herman Cain right now. Better get that under control. D2 is an attention hog who demands to be the sole focus of any adult in the room. As he wreaks havoc in the class room, he has a tendency to snatch toys away from other children. It is clear he has very little home training as he is constantly climbing, throwing and slamming doors shut. He loves hosing down teachers and classmates alike during water play. We are encouraging D2 to not use his classmates for Ultimate Fighting practice. We were surprised to learn that D2 is quite proficient in dropping F-bombs  and a variety of other four-letter words in Spanish and English.

So by this point you are probably thinking that I totally lost my mind. Dr. D., always the rentless teaser, asks me if we think we ought  to put D2’s application into Wal-Mart to become a greeter. That’s what it says on his report card he needles. I break my vow to not swear any more and tell Dr. D. to stuff it. This is serious business.

Talking with my mom brings me off the ledge. I send the report to her. What do you think? She’s thrilled. Look how he’s progressing and growing up! Aren’t you just thrilled with how smart and engaged he is? How could I miss this? What’s wrong with me? It takes a conversation with my mom to snap me back into reality. Yes, he is making phenomenal progress. He is learning by leaps and bounds and every day I see something new. Every day I get to experience the world through his curious little eyes. How could I forget? I resolve to do better. To chill out. Then I remember I’ve still got 16 years to get him into MIT…

What do you think? Do you irrationally worry that your child isn’t making enough progress? Can parents ever just relax and enjoy where their children are right now and not fret so much?

Showing 4 comments
  • Scott Henderson

    How timely. My wife and I attended our 10 year-old son’s parent-teacher conference this morning at his Montessori school. At this age, the child takes part in the conference, which I find to be an amazingly insightful experience.

    Your post reminded me of previous parent-teacher conferences, especially the early years. THANK YOU for sharing the translated version of the report. I think we as parents are constantly remixing what’s said about our children to make it more about us than them. My worst moments as a father have come when I have allowed that inner remixing to drive my reactions because I felt I was looking bad because of him.

    Congrats to you on choosing Montessori. We are big proponents and have seen our son blossom over the past 6 years – in fact, we chose where we live in Boston based on his school. Can’t say enough for it.

    Thanks for your candid post. My unsolicited advice: don’t read between the lines and FOCUS ON HIS STRENGTHS. The teacher’s assessment of D2 makes him sound like quite a wonderful boy.

    • bossmomonline

      Scott, first off – Montessori, rocks! Love that you all are proponents too. The world would be a much better place if more people had the Montessori experience. We love it. Thank you for validating my (albeit irrational) feelings. It’s so true, we DO make it about ourselves and then we wonder why we have children who become so unhappy. That’s why I’m dedicated to having some self-awareness around this tendency in myself. Great advice on focusing on strenghts. I think children really reap the benefits when they having a positive and encouraging environment and that’s what we are dedicated to providing to D2. I love hearing about other parent’s whose children are having a successful Montessori experience. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  • Blessing

    I think D2 is doing great. Like Scott mentioned, his strenghts are the most important factor at play here and you need to focus on that. I cut my daughter some slacks when I noticed she needed to socialize more instead of reading, reading, reading and I am seeing much difference now that she comes home and talks non-stop about her friends.

    • bossmomonline

      Thanks, Blessing. I think the balance I am trying to strike is making sure my son is challenged and at the same time, not pushed too hard. I love the Montessori philosophy of engaging children in their own education. In many ways, it’s up to us as adults to get out of the way and let them learn… at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

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