I now realize there were many signs I missed as our bright, funny, clever daughter moved through the first five years of her life. I loved watching her play. She was doing 100 piece puzzles at the age of three. How clever is that? She loved to draw, but she rejected doing coloring books. We wanted to expand her drawing ability and we were more than happy to put the coloring books out of the picture. She loved animals of any kind and her menagerie of stuffed animals was significant because everyone in the family knew of her passion. Those animals put her on a career path that remains a reality to this day.
All seemed normal. She was bright, athletic, artistic, creative and out-going.
She loved to be read to and this was our special time together before bedtime. She listened intently, but had no interest in following the words. Our son, three years older, was already reading words before K started. This made sense to us because we read with him every day. By the age of four, our daughter still had no interest in reading the words. We thought it was because she loved to draw things. She made up her own books with all pictures and would read those to us.
What we did miss started a direct path to disaster by 4th grade.
We noticed she had a dislike for some activities and a love for many activities. She would draw, but not trace. She would not trace pictures, or alphabet letters, or dot to dot books. To be honest, we were so excited about the many accomplishments she achieved that we were confident that school would go as well as it was going for our son.
That did not happen.
Our first school conference was met with disappointing news. The teacher was a first year K teacher. She wanted to have stations available around the room and told her students to pick the station they wanted for the class period. She explained to us her belief that students would naturally pick each station at least once because of her students’ natural interest in all things. Our daughter was the exception she said. Never did she choose the letter, number, or word stations. She stayed day after day with the art, puzzle, listening to stories stations. Her teacher thought she was being difficult and often pointed out to our daughter how well the other students were doing in choosing wisely.
The year ended poorly and we never heard the kind words we hoped to hear. We were ready for a fun summer. However, one very poignant moment was when our daughter asked, “Just how many years of school are there?”
written by: Diane Hochstein, President of SOI Service Company