My dad brought me a box of memorabilia that included my grade school “memory book.” Tucked into its pages was an assessment letter from my Kindergarten teacher:
July 1, 1969
Dear Mr. and Mrs. F______:
Holly has been a dignified, rather inflexible, and self-centered kindergartener. It is very difficult for her to project beyond herself. She moves from one close friendship to another but her inability to let herself go makes real sharing impossible. She never really gets involved in doing and other children resent this. She still needs to be reminded about every routine responsibility in the room and she seldom takes one on her own. Practical problems are very difficult for her and she often says,” But I have never done that”. She stands by helplessly while some other child solves a problem as simple as unfolding a newspaper to make it flat. She often uses the term “Ik” or a similar word when asked if she doesn’t want to do papier mache, use clay, paint, etc.Holly is capable of doing good academic work but here again she has difficulty in solving practical problems, in discovering on her own. She waits for adult direction and decisions, and is quick to blame others when things go wrong. She understands math processes, groups and counts easily and memorizes details. She shows much interest in learning to read and is much less mechanical about it than she was at first. She has a good visual memory. Holly performs in dance and general physical activity but she does this studied, mechanical thing and has difficulty losing self-consciousness and relaxing. She has good coordination but is stiff and sometimes fearful. In free outdoor play she is the most relaxed and childlike. She seems to play with a wide variety of friends then and has a good attitude. She seems so afraid she will not “measure up”, or is so dependent upon adult praise in the more specific skills, and she wants to show what she can do rather than to be a part of the whole group experience. She can be a happy, spontaneous contributor with a good sense of humor and an interest in others when she lets down her guard. She is being more free and creative in story writing, in dramatizations, and is trying to do less stereotyped work in art. She needs much contact with children outside of school in order to sense some practical give and take. She needs to get more involved in other children’s interests. She should have no difficulty academically but her success there will be somewhat influenced by her success socially and her attitude toward work.
Fair enough; my husband read this and laughed. “Not too far off.” He ducked; after twenty-three years of marriage, the man ducked. He has earned the right to know me that well. But is it any wonder we moved, when this woman got promoted to First Grade and my parents were told she’d be my teacher another year?
This, by the way, is the woman who called my parents to the school to inform them that I was a pathological liar. She had asked each of her students to tell the class what our plans were for Christmas break. Mine happened to be traveling to Africa aboard the S.S. United States. “No one takes a five-year-old child to Africa!” E.C. declared. My parents set her straight, and she proceeded to describe to me – in painful detail – the shots I would have to have in order to visit Africa. My parents were less than thrilled with her when they had to drag me to the doctor, kicking and screaming…
This teacher also decided that a class full of kindergartners needed to learn how to use public transportation. So she took us all out of school, loaded us on a city bus, and took us out for donuts. Not that we didn’t enjoy the treat, mind you – she just forgot about little things like permission slips and letting the school principal know where we were. My parents came to pick me up, after school, and the whole class was missing!
Oh, as for She shows much interest in learning to read and is much less mechanical about it than she was at first… I could read by the time I was three. E.C. wasn’t happy because she couldn’t hold my attention with “See Spot run. See Spot pee on the rug.” She had the nerve to lecture my parents about teaching me to read. “That’s the school’s job!” she supposedly said. Incidentally, I failed my first I.Q. test, and the next year, flunked my “Reading Readiness Test.” Take these things with a grain of salt, when it comes to your own kids.
“Well, what were we supposed to do?” my parents asked E.C. “Keep the books under lock and key?”
Just one of the fun things I dug out of a cardboard box my dad left here on his last visit. “Holly An’s School Years.” You should see the dorky picture from Seventh Grade. Or not.
Copyright 2008 Holly Jahangiri
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