What a difference a year makes

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019

Almost a year ago, my wife and I had a parent-teacher-administrator conference with my daughter’s preschool in which we were told she was no longer welcome there.

That may have been long ago, but it’s not so far away from our minds.

So when the first parent-teacher conference at our daughter’s new preschool took place recently, we were feeling a little bit apprehensive about it.

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We get daily photos and reports about how our daughter is doing, and, in short, those reports have given us a strong indicator that we now have her in the right preschool.

How she reacts when she goes to school every morning is an even bigger indicator of how she’s doing there.

When she gets out of the car, she runs from the parking lot to her classroom. One of the teachers greeting kids at the door this morning remarked that she’s going to be a track star.

She smiles at everyone, but she will not stop for fist bumps, handshakes or anything else until she gets into her classroom.

Both the reports and our daughter’s reaction to school are the exact opposite of her reaction and the few reports we received last year.

Still, even with all the positive reports we had received, and seeing our daughter’s enthusiasm for her new preschool, we were still nervous about the meeting.

Both of us had intended to go, but since our daughter didn’t want to come and hang out in the school’s library for an hour, it was just me to face her teachers.

But like the reports and our daughter’s reaction to going to school this year, we had no need to worry. The teachers were very positive and gave us even more insight — we weren’t sure that was possible with the detail we’ve been getting about her first couple of months there — about our daughter.

It was a conversation as much as it was a conference. We even discussed our apprehension about the conference. They were most reassuring and stressed that our daughter was in a loving, nurturing environment, that she was excited about learning, and in particular, excited about music, art and physical education. They said she shows empathy toward others, and that they didn’t expect her to have any trouble with anything academic. The very few things they said they were working on with her were in social and emotional areas, but they said those behaviors are normal for a 3-year-old.

The things they said at the conference were consistent with the daily reports too. Even when she has a minor mishap, they frame it in a positive way.

Our meetings at our daughter’s old preschool last year had none of that. In those, up through and including the last one where they kicked her out, her behaviors were seen as disruptive, we were told she didn’t socialize with other children and that they didn’t know how to teach her because she didn’t take school seriously.

I sent a text message to my wife when I got out of the meeting just to say that it went very well and I sent her a photo of the report I had to sign. Less than a minute after I had sent that message, my wife called.

“Did she get kicked out?”

I laughed. “No, they love her.”

I went over all the things from the conference, and after that, we both felt good that we found this preschool for our daughter, and that she has been thriving there.

It doesn’t take away the sting of last year, but this new preschool has shown us what we’ve known all along about our daughter — she is a bright, happy, playful, caring and focused spirit who has a seemingly endless motor.

What a difference a year makes, and what a difference that great teachers in a nurturing environment make.