Before the LJ migration, I used this journal mostly as a diary of life-with-Sophie. No reason not to continue I suppose...
Since last I wrote, we have all moved to Vienna, settled into a new neighborhood and new routines, and Sophie has got most of the way through her final year of kindergarten / preschool / Vorschule. Yesterday afternoon we had the semiannual parent-teacher meeting with her teachers there.
Well. As mpk
said elsewhere, one almost wishes they'd said "she's doing great, a bit above average" and left it at that.
None of it was bad
news - we do, after all, know what our kid is like. They led off with definite good news, which is that she has made good progress this year in learning to tolerate group activities. They also pointed out how musical she is - not only that she is singing to herself constantly, but that she's got some serious natural vocal talent that should be allowed to flourish. She is also crazy about what we call "making" but what in the US would be called arts & crafts. Every week we take about an Ikea bag's worth of paper creations home from school, and the house is just as full with things she draws and colors and constructs here. The teachers say that they've never seen a kid make the sorts of things she comes up with, both in terms of intended creation and in terms of construction techniques. She's still pretty convinced that, given enough sticky tape, paper, and cardboard, she can eventually get to the moon.
The basic gist, though, was that she is "extremely individualistic" and "has a completely different internal structure from the other children." Even in Montessori-land, which is so much about learning by doing (and boy does she like to actively do things, rather than watching or listening), the activities that engross the others simply don't capture her attention. I've observed this too - she picks up new ideas or skills or knowledge very quickly, but at some point short of "sustained mastery" she will just lose interest. When we put her in piano lessons last year her teacher wanted to tear his hair out for the way she would grasp in a few minutes what took other kids a few weeks, but then be right back at square one the next week because she didn't care to retain it. Even now, when she counts up past 12 the sequence tends to go 11, 12, 15, 14, 17... and when I stop her and say "what comes after 12?" she'll roll her eyes and say "13" but she just doesn't think it's important. This also means that she has done very little of anything this year that even by Montessori standards would count as structured learning - she recognizes the materials from her old classroom, and doesn't seem to think that they hold anything new for her, and her teachers haven't been able to disabuse her of this.
The teachers didn't entirely explain what they meant by a "completely different internal structure", and it's hard for me to articulate what I understood of it. It is to do with all of the above, and with the vocabulary she uses, and with the things that interest her, and with the questions she asks, and with her drive to create. Another example they gave is the way that, when the class goes out to see a show at the theater, the other kids are engrossed in the story but Sophie is engrossed in the production, and will march up to the actors after the show and grill them about how and why they were doing whatever they were doing on stage. It's clear to me that she is absorbing ideas for how she can make similar productions of her own.
And so, even though she's mostly made her peace with occasionally being asked to participate in what the other kids are doing, her teachers were clearly worried about her prospects for primary school. They told us of their concern that she was not ready to cope with a classroom where the kids are sitting at desks and doing what the teacher asks them to all day long. Happily for everyone, the nightmare scenario of being constantly summoned to school about our uncontrollable problem child, in those circumstances, had already occurred to us, and we were able to get her into the one mixed-age (grades 1-4) Montessori-style classroom at the local public school. We've only met the teachers in passing on the open days, but the visiting day for new kids to the class is on 19 June and we will have some more idea then what the next year(s) will be like. Still, I know that there is simply no predicting how any teacher will cope with Sophie until they actually find themselves having to do so. Watch this space...