Friday, May 11, 2012

The Journey to School, Part II

After my husband and I made the decision to send Henry to school, we needed to fill out a packet of paperwork. One of the sheets contained a list of questions and another asked us to write a paragraph about Henry. This is what we wrote:

What are your child's strengths? Creativity. Ability to grasp abstract concepts. Advanced vocabulary. Insatiable appetite for learning new things.

At this age, children are still learning to play cooperatively. Please tell about your child and how he/she plays. He prefers interacting with older children. He prefers creative and pretend play over structured games and sports.

What does your child like to do best at home? Art. Building. Pretending. Being read to.

How easily does your child separate from you? Individual parent separation is easy. He has had very little experience with separation from both parents. He says he does not want to go to school because he does not want to be without Mommy.

What situations might frustrate your child? In what ways does he respond to frustration? He is sometimes unable to realize visions without adult interaction, which isn’t always available. He seeks attention often and has a need to share every observation. When someone says something he does not want to hear, he covers his ears and shuts down.

Does your child have any special fears or has he had any significant traumatic experiences? Please explain: No traumatic experiences. Sensitive to sad, fearful, perilous or otherwise tense situations in books and videos. Also terrified of dogs, even obviously gentle ones, though he has never had a bad experience with one.

For what is your child most often disciplined? What is the most effective method of disciplining your child? Verbal defiance. Refusal to cooperate. Discipline is verbal only and does not include physical punishment or solitary “time-outs.” We often reprimand him and wait for him to comply or make amends. We also try to use appropriate consequences for poor behavior.

Describe any additional behaviors that are of concern to you: Despite the desire to learn, he’s against the idea of school. He often won't take part in group activities; for instance, instead of doing the project in art class he will make up his own crafts.

Have there been any changes in your family situation recently (i.e. illness, change in family structure, move, etc)? Birth of younger brother in November 2010.

Have you noticed any reaction in your child? Please explain. He does not like to discuss it or be told that he’ll appreciate it one day. Verbal negativity notwithstanding, his actions toward his baby brother are appropriate and safe.

In what ways do you anticipate that your child will react to school routines and expectations? Do you foresee any areas of concern (i.e. occasional tantrums, anxiety, extreme shyness, restlessness, etc.)? We anticipate a tough transition. He has been encouraged to be independent and learning has been self-directed, with no expectation of joining group activities or doing any specific schoolwork.

What else would you like your child's teacher to know about your child? He has food intolerances to wheat/gluten and corn and we would like to be notified if food will be served in the classroom.

Henry's birthday is August 3, 2005. He has a younger brother Silas (3.5 months old) and three older half-siblings -- Harrison (22), Simon (20) and Madeleine (17). He doesn't see his older brothers often but spends time with Madeleine, who has Down Syndrome, every other weekend. For the most part he gets along well with all his siblings, though he was not happy about becoming a big brother and does not like to talk about it.

Henry has the typical territorial tendencies and can be very protective of everything his. He likes to save scraps of anything he can find for use in a future "project." Creating and pretending are some of his favorite activities. Henry's strength is his ability to grasp subtle and deep concepts. He has received a lot of attention from both parents so far.

His mother is a stay-at-home-mom and has a high level of interaction with him. She reads to him often and they have a ritual of reading a few chapters out of a chapter book every night before bed. They are currently working through the "Little House" series. His father is an engineer and musician and often discusses scientific concepts with him.

We have concerns with Henry's transition to school life, namely his learning to follow directions promptly and exactly as given, to do things in a group setting and to do activities he may not be interested in doing. Our expectations are that he be given opportunities and directions for learning and socialization, as we think he may have outgrown such opportunities in the home environment.

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