Last night, I had the joy of going to Soleil’s parent teacher conference. Yea me. NOT.
I hate these. I get to hear the same things, "She’s so smart, but she can’t focus.", "She’s a real pleasure to have in class, but she needs better self control.", and my personal favorite, "I love it when kids read, but I often have to stop her from reading because she needs to follow the class." Last night was not too different. We started with the book statement (yeah, I know…) and then moved onto the "real pleasure" statement. Fortunately, I had started the school year with speaking to her teacher about some of her issues (no-I haven’t gone into them and I probably won’t, but let me say, they aren’t considered special needs so she can’t get an IEP even though she really needs one- But don’t get me going or I will never shut up about the inherent unfairness of the system)
I was waiting for her teacher when the phonics teacher came out of the classroom. I had just discovered on Monday that Soleil went to a phonics class. This was very surprising to me since she has been speaking since 13 months old and her enunciation is the clearest I have heard from a child except when she calls hamstrings "hamsters", but that may just be confusion. Luna clearly needs help with speech and has only recently realized that the word "the" is spelled with the "TH" blend instead of the "D" she hears and says.
The phonics teacher took a moment to introduce herself and tell me a bit about Soleil’s classroom behavior. While doing well, I discovered that she needs extra help with her short vowels. Apparently, she can’t tell the difference between a short "a" and a short "e" sound when speaking. Um, okay…However, she is very fluent and emotive in her speaking and is a real joy to the classroom. After a few minutes of the explicit issues with my daughter’s speech patterns, I couldn’t resist, "I do have to point out ", I said in my best, calm voice, "that both my husband and I are from the mid-west. I am afraid she has learned how to speak with our accent."
Teacher stops and blinks. "Oh! I never thought about that." Blinks some more. I think the gears are moving in her head. I am afraid smoke will start pouring out of her ears in a moment. "Well, I’ll keep that in mind, but if you could help her when reading and speaking, that would really help."
Smiling my best smile that says that I am biting my tongue, I agreed and checked "You said it was her short vowels, right? And we should help her practice?"
"That’s the general idear".
I almost burst out laughing right then and there. A woman with such a strong Boston/New England accent is teaching my kiddo, who has excellent enunciation for someone who could be from Erie PA, how to speak. If she starts replacing random "ah" sounds with "er" sounds and replacing "ar" with "ah", I am going to have to hurt somebody.