So, the first time for the little ones. Their very first Conferences, and it did feel a bit special, and I was happy that Chris was off and that he also could come and take part in the meeting, as he has been gone for his school while they started school, and has missed a lot of what's going on there.
It was a very thorough walk through for each child and it was great to hear what the teacher had to say. I had filled out a questionnaire for each child in preparation for the meeting, about concerns or questions that I had and we went over that, and their progress in school.
It was also interesting to see the results of the "tests" they did with the kids in one room, when I wasn't there to watch while we had the home visit before school started. While I was talking to the head teacher, the assistance teachers made the kids do certain tasks to see on what level they were at that point. The different tasks were things like:
- Sorting different "counting bears" in size or color.
- Continuing making a pattern of blocks and make their own patterns.
- Counting to as far as they could. Answering questions on what comes before 8? What comes after 15? What is the amount?
- Writing their name. If they can name all the letters in their name.
- See if they were using just capital letters or if they were using lower case aswell.
- They had a test on a book. They had to show the teacher how to hold a book, explain what is the cover, what is the title, what is the author, what does illustrations by mean? Where do we start reading, top left to right etc. to bottom right. What is the illustrations?
- They had to give rhyming words to several words.
- They had to show the understanding on words like, under, over, behind, in front of, between, inside, outside etc.
- They had to use scissors and cut out some figures as good as they could.
- They had to draw themselves.
They both did very well on these tests, and the teacher said that they were advanced in a few things and on task with a few. They did not see any concerns on that they were behind on any skills that they should master at this age. They are both very detailed in their drawings, they have good alphabet knowledge, they can recognize numbers and count well up to 20, with a few mistakes here and there sometimes in the upper teens.
Both Isabella and Benjamin scored highest possible on the rhyming and book skills. One could see that we have been reading a lot with the kids she said and that they were used to make up their own stories, that their knowledge of books and interest in reading were ranked very high. Great to see that it actually does make a difference to read a lot to the kids, something that I've done a lot every day since they were babies.
Now for the progress so far since these tests and what they have learned since they started Preschool, they are academically doing great. Socially, they have to work on a few skills. The teachers have to encourage especially Benjamin to speak up for himself, if someone is bothering him instead of just getting angry or walk away. We are practicing more and more to use words instead of getting Isabella has had a hard time sometime to accept that one thing is over and they have to clean up to start another activity, she has wanted to continue to play and gotten upset a few times when it's time to clean up. Normal, and no big deal, it is something that they both have to learn about school setting, that it's important to listen to the teacher and follow directions.
So in all, their process is good, and even if they sometimes are a bit shy and don't talk too much with their friends, they start to open up more and one good sign that they are becoming not so shy anymore of the teacher is that they have started to greet her with a hug instead of a handshake, that was the standard greeting for about 2 months.
I got a few lists on things that we could work on more here at home to help them get ready for Kindergarten. Good to have, especially as they will loose 4 months of their Preschool time when we move, and we don't even know how soon or if at all we can get them into school on Okinawa so it's good to have extra work we can use here at home!