Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Three Page Report Card for my Three Year Old

So, yesterday, The Dictator came home from, um, nursery school with her report card. A report card! A "first semester" report card. Who even knew there were semesters in nursery school?

I have mixed feelings about giving out report cards for three year olds. I mean, she just turned three! If I gave her the report card she would have taken her crayons and scribbled all over it. Which I kind of had the urge to do.

The report card was three pages long and let me check....yes, with 50, that's right 5-0 categories she was marked on.

The Dictator cannot even pronounce words like "Language and Emerging Literacy Skills" or "Self-Emotional Development," but apparantly she is sort of being grading on it.

And here I was, thinking that all she did, five mornings a week, for three hours, was colour pictures, sing songs, have story time and play in the playground.

Each category, which were titled everything from, "Shows pride in Jewish Heritage and background," "Understands and respects differences," and "Communicates to resolve conflicts," to "Makes increasingly representational drawings," "runs with control over direction and speed" and "Participates in group discussions," was marked with the words, "Not Yet," "Sometimes" "Frequently" and "Constantly.

Ok, we're talking about a three year old!

Isn't it normal to communicate to resolve conflicts by, um, crying, instead of saying, "I like you, dear, classmate, but it really makes me feel like you don't like me very much when you hit me in the arm. In the future, why don't we just talk it out and communicate our feelings."

As for her making "increasingly representational drawings", again, she's three. Not Jack Bush. She basically scribbles on a piece of paper, and I can tell you that those scribbles are friggen amazing, even though, according to her teacher, she only does this "frequently."

I guess "frequently" is a compliment.

As for showing pride in Jewish History, well, we are paying for her to go to the Calgary Jewish Academy.

My daughter is very shy in class, according to her teacher. I already know this, because I have spied on her from outside the classroom door. I do not think this is a problem. I think, frankly, that some kids are just shy.

My mother, who was a teacher, but more importantly raised four children, told me that generally speaking how kids act in nuersery school is how they'll act throughout their entire school existence.

According to the Dictator's teacher, my child likes to observe other kids first.

I was a type-A student, who if I got less than 85% on anything would consider it a failure. But that's just me. I will tell you that no matter how shy my Dictator is, I don't care. If she just wants to observe first, that's fine by me.

Here's what I want for my child inside the classroom. I just want her to be happy, that's it. And safe. Safe and Happy. There should be only one box on a three year olds report card and that is, "Having fun?"

But I will admit to you that I kind of want to take a peek at another kids' report card, to see what the teacher said about them and how they were marked.

Yesterday, after reading her report card, I bent down and gave The Dictator a huge hug and said she is a super star who got all gold stars. She asked me for ice cream and then showed me a piece of paper which she had put one green dot on and told me that was her frog.

I figure, you know, when she's in grade 10 or something, I might start to care about report cards. As for now, I'll let her scribble all over it - and then, as requested, I'll sign it and give it back to the school.


Blogger Kiki said...

I suspect that maybe other parents who are paying for their children to attend are looking for more of what you were as a child.
Especially nowadays there is more pressure on kids from parents who want them to be perfect.
We all want the best for our kids, the difference is each definition of 'the best'. Some think 'the best' is having fun and making friends, some think it's studying all night to ensure that their kids get straight a pluses.
Some (like me) think it's a balance between the 2, mind you, my child is 9 not 3 so it's a bit different.

11:40 AM

Anonymous ali said...

i dunno. i've never really thought too much about report cards. my kids got them in nursery too. i just sort of read them over...and tht was about it. it was interesting to get someone else's opinion on my children...but i certainly wasn't going to take the fact that josh is only "starting to demonstrate scissor skills"
to heart

12:30 PM

Anonymous GirlyGurl said...

Good for you for not taking it too seriously! Nursery school IS about having fun. I considered it a major achievement if my kids made it through pre-school not wetting their pants!

12:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 much for 3 year olds. there ia a whole crazy world out there, can't they be "babes" for a bit?

12:51 PM

Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I know!!!
My 2 year old gets a report card. It's hilarious. Know what his said? It said that he excels in language and cooperation with other children. But he is a messy eater!
Seriously. Will he advance from preschool 1 to preschool 2 if he continues to be a messy eater? Who knows.
It's a totally weird concept, and imagine the time the poor teachers spend on that stuff.
Oh well. The dictator may be shy, but at least she is a neat eater :)

1:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter got her first report card when she spent a week at ski school daycare (18 months old). They basically told me how many dirty diapers she had, what she ate for lunch, and whether she was "happy", "playful," "quiet," or "a little bit sad."

I love them - just for the dirty diaper count! They're going right into her baby book. :)

But I would laugh at the 50 categories Rowan has been graded on. I guess they want to show you they're taking their ECE diplomas seriously.

3:33 PM

Blogger Beastarzmom said...

You know what scares me about this post? That how a child is in preschool is indicative of how they'll be all through school.
I guess I'd better bone up on Mapquest so I'll know just where the principal's office is.

8:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 19 month old daughter hangs back and observes before jumping in to new situations - I think that's good...hopefully she carries that through life and learns to "look before she leaps" rather than be a yahoo and rush in all guns a blazin'!

10:02 AM

Anonymous Heather said...

As a student of early childhood education I can assure you that these reports are quite important. Teachers are required to constantly observe their pint-sized students to monitor for any signs of language, motor, and cognitive delay. We record a Brigance Inventory to ensure your child is meeting developmental milestones. Because young children are in such critical stages of development it is essential that educators and parents are able to identify failure to reach milestones allowing us to intervene if necessary to properly support your growing child.

In order for a child to resolve conflicts doesn't mean that they have to speak a peace treaty. However, it is important for children to be able to use their words to express their feelings rather than instrumental or hostile aggression.

Representational drawings show development of symbolic thought, a feature very important in social and emotional growth.

One of my teacher insists that play is child's work. I also strongly believe that statement. What may seem like a child just "having fun" is actually her setting the building blocks for language acquisition, reading comprehension and awareness of herself and the world around her.

I sincerely hope you change your view of the significance of progress reports as it seems as though perhaps you don't understand the reasoning for the report. Perhaps, unfortunately, you don't understand the value of your child's play and more personally the quality of care I and your child's teacher have committed ourselves to offering to establish a strong foundation for optimal growth and development. Either way, please understand that your attitudes will influence how your daughter perceives her own competencies and your blog will continue to influence its readers. As an educator in-training, I would like to think that as a strong voice in your community you might want to persuade those around you to support this undervalued field as we are guiding your child towards a strong foundation for which they will building skills that will last a lifetime.


12:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

...don't leave caring about grades till gr. 10, might be a bit late, but like you said, she has to like learning, books, be curious, that's the important stuff not the incredibly useless report card jargon...

2:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps actually having a child would alter my view on the issue but I think I would be more than intrigued to see such a report card. I think it's good to have another point of view on a child's behaviour and growth.

7:24 PM

Anonymous Sarah said...

I got a 'mid-term' report for my just turned 3 year old this week too - but it was just a page, and it was just her teacher's comments, not all those developmental categories....maybe we're not paying them enough to spend that much time on the ridiculous? I was just glad that her teacher seems to see the same fantastic girl with the same strengths and faults that I see.

8:56 AM

Blogger mad muthas said...

don't you hate the way every tiny aspect of a child's behaviour is subjected to scrutiny and assessed in comparison with a norm? what happened to originality, individuality, eccentricity (and any other ities i can't think of). and why do kids have to be graded like - i don't know - eggs or something? oooh it makes me furious - and it totally stresses parents out too. grrrrr

3:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A 30 point report card for three year olds?
That's assinine.

8:59 PM

Blogger nomotherearth said...

I'm wondering when The Boy will get his first report card and what it will say. Sometimes I think that preschools and daycares do these reports simply to "prove" that they are paying attention and that we are getting our money's worth. Is that very cynical of me? Hmm. Probably.

8:21 PM


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