Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nervous about teacher meeting

Athena takes her time at everything she does.  It can often be really frustrating because she can hold everyone up as we wait for her to get moving along.  Being slow, and meticulous has been a trait of hers ever since she has been able to do anything for herself.  It can be quite frustrating, but it's something that, as her parent, I have learned to deal with.
She takes this behavior to school with her work.  She takes longer than the other children to finish her assignments.  Her teacher has a policy that the kids cannot participate in free play until they have finished their work.  For Athena, this pretty much rules at free play for her.  This is something she has brought up as a concern for her, and as a result has concerned me.  Studies are consistent in showing that free play is a very important part of a child's social, physical, and educational health.  Many schools have started increasing the amount of free time their children receive, and have been showing increases in good behavior and in test scores.
Last night Athena drew a picture on her homework for Kim.  It was Athena sitting at a table by herself, with children running around the table playing.  Kim said it broke her heart, and it did the same to me when she told me about it.
I had expressed concern over this before to Kim and told her I wanted to meet with the teacher about this.  Kim has cautioned me about this.  I think, as a teacher, she understands how difficult it can be for teachers to be bombarded with parents who think they know her job better than she does.  She talked me out of it.

Today I e-mailed the teacher telling her that I would like to meet with her.  I think Athena's teachers is one of the more strict teachers.  She is also one of the oldest, meaning she has older fashioned views on education.
I understand that the teacher is trying to teach Athena how to complete work on time, and is also trying to stress the importance of completing work.  However, I think there are three major problems.
The first is that after months of using the technique of withholding free time, Athena continues to be slow and meticulous, going over every detail of her work.  The teacher's strategy is clearly ineffective at reaching the desired goal.  I can't imagine how continuing a failed strategy is helpful to anyone.
The second is that Athena is already very studious.  She loves learning and education.  She is always eager to learn new things.  She isn't lacking in education or studies.  Education is part of the culture of our household.  What she doesn't have enough of is play time with friends.  Removing free play with peers her age to make time for make studies serves no purpose.  She is being given extra time of something she is already immersed in, and taken away time for something she is not getting enough of.
Third, Athena's behavior of a slow meticulous worker is not necessarily bad.  In many ways I think she inherits much of that trait from me.  When other people prefer to quickly do something in a sloppy manner, I prefer to take my time out to do things right.  When we do homework with Athena was can sometimes get frustrated.  If her homework is to color in a picture, she will make each part of the picture a different color, and she has very specific reasons why something must be a certain color.  She will go real slow to make sure that she doesn't go out of the lines.  If she messes up she will often get really upset and feel that the whole thing is ruined.  This is just the person she is, and I don't think any amount of work is going to change it.
So anyways.  I'm pretty nervous about this meeting.  I don't like going to people and telling them they are doing their job wrong and they need to do things my way.  I don't expect her to receive what I have to say very well, and I expect that the meeting will ultimately be unproductive.  I hope I'm wrong.