This morning, Dave and I met with Gabriel's teacher to review how he's been doing.
Overall, it was anticlimactic. I'd been anxious to talk with his teachers about motivating him, as he complained a lot at first about pretty much everything. But, lately, he hasn't been complaining as much, and that's been reflected in class too. His teacher said he's been doing a lot better with not procrastinating an assignment, especially if he's warned that he'll have to finish his work over recess, but they haven't had to do that as much lately. It helped that he was separated from a CDC pal he liked to mess around with.
I think the teachers are supposed to push various programs and methods to work even more with the kids at home. She reviewed a reading technique, something about counting the number of words he misunderstood out of 100 words, and gave us some material to work on "reading strategies" (methods to improve comprehension). I interrupted her and asked if this was standard, or did Gabriel need extra reading help? He was reading so well entering kindergarten that we really haven't paid any attention since, so, maybe he's fallen behind? "No, no, he's fine," she assured us. I guess she had to give us the spiel though. Too bad. In a 20-minute conference, I'd rather focus entirely on Gabriel than be shown yet more work to do together. The one thing Dave and I both heartily agreed with that he needs extra work on is his handwriting, it's atrocious and the worst in the class.
Overall he did well on the book report too. She said she could tell he had help, as his discussion of the book was more sophisticated than most kids'. I couldn't tell if this was a tactful admonition, or praise, and didn't have the mental togetherness at the moment to ask. His sentences and wording were his own, but the ideas were developed in a lot of discussion together, and I gave him a lot of guidance on how to organize his sentences and what scope to keep them (e.g. "Can you write an example of how Puss tricks the King in one sentence?") It's hard to know where the line is, and if I crossed it, in discussion. I hope not. It's important to me that he be able to do his work himself and that he not develop dependency on me. (But I have a nagging self-doubt that I did help too much, even if I have no idea how else to have done it.)
So, no big surprises. Gabriel's areas of weakness are reading comprehension (just like me) and expressing himself in writing (not like me at all), and handwriting. It's clear he's most comfortable with math, though he's often careless and makes enough mistakes that his work is pretty typical grade-level. I think he can do better, but, whatever.
2nd grade was off to a rocky start, but he's now finding his stride!