We got across our two main points well, I think. One was that the homework takes far more than 10 minutes. Two is that it's designed in such a way that doesn't allow the child to complete it themselves. We don't mind helping if they need it, but it should give them the chance to have a sense of accomplishment, pride, completion, and independence. The recent daily math homework he's had (hunting around the house for thermometers and dates) is part of a pilot program, and our feedback was strong, clear and negative.
Her feedback to us about Gabriel was interesting, some surprising. She said he always comes up with topics to talk about in class, that he's good at explaining his reasoning process (like how he came up with an answer), and that he's honest. We can never drag anything out of him about school, so to hear that he participates enthusiastically was a nice surprise.
She also emphasized his self-confidence and how things roll off his back, that getting things wrong never fazes him. Indeed, Gabriel has never been hampered by sensitivity. Also, she said his math skills are very strong, both his knowledge and his ability to learn new things, he gets thing quickly and easily. On the downside, he hums in class a lot, distracting other students. A written goal was to "be aware of his actions" -- the flip side to not being very sensitive.
To our surprise, though we were only the 4th set of parents she'd talked to so far, we were the first ones who'd offered any feedback at all on the quantity or quality of the homework. She was gracious and welcoming and appreciative of our feedback.
As we were waiting for the conference, we watched Gabriel playing soccer. Goalie again, this time for quite a while.
I watched with interest as two different sets of three boys at a time taunted him, disrupting the cones, standing in front of him, and generally harassing him, while the "coach" was occupied at the other end. Gabriel stood up to all three boys at a time -- one set with hockey sticks -- pushing them out of the way, hollering at them to stop -- angry but not intimidated. He was completely focused on getting the cones back in place and resuming their guardianship. No complaining to the coach, no crying, not so much as a glance at me, just complete attention to the game.
New phrases of Katrina's today:
"I want to find the other shoe!"
"I want a song!" (demanding to sit on Dad's lap while Dad was overseeing Gabriel's piano practice).
"I pushed you down!" (after doing exactly that to me)
And my favorite, spoken with seething venom as she furiously objected to my brushing her hair: