I know, I've been lax in talking about the boy. It's not for lack of things to say, but a lack of time to say it in.
We had our first parent-teacher conference with his first grade teacher last week, so I figure this would be a good time to catch up.
First, I should say that I really love his teacher, Mrs. Whaley. She's energetic and positive, and seems to really be able to control the classroom. Up until this year, she's always taught second grade--which means, as she puts it, she knows where all of these kids need to be at the end of this school year. Thanks to his school being a Title 1 school, there are still only about 18 kids in his class (compared to close to 30 in other schools).
She said Zack is always cheerful, always wants to be there, is friends with all of his classmates, and is very social. She asked us if he had siblings, and was surprised that he didn't--she said he never comes across as an only child (I was VERY pleased to hear this!). However, he needs to work on focusing. I wasn't too surprised to hear this. During class, they work with Mrs. Whaley in small groups. When they're not with her, they have a To Do list on the board that they have to work on. Zack apparently sees this as a race and tries to finish things as quickly as possible, so that he can get a book to read (and apparently see what all his friends are working on). In doing this, he doesn't check his work. He also makes up instructions for the worksheets sometimes--it's not clear if he thinks he's remembering the instructions correctly, or if he just doesn't want to ask. Mrs. Whaley said she rarely catches him doing this because he doesn't ask, and because he is working hard, unlike some of the kids that stare blankly at the page when they're not sure what to do.
He tests a bit below where he's supposed to be in reading, but again, she says that may be due to focusing. They're tested by reading a list of sight words that they've worked on, and the teacher isn't allowed to help them at all, or to ask them if they're sure about what they've said. She showed us what he missed and they're words he knows, he just went too fast. She said she's not worried about his reading because he's very good about sounding out words. I also added that he loves to read, and does it voluntarily all the time.
She said that we should keep the focus issue on our radar, but that we don't need to really worry about it yet. We should work with him on taking his time and paying attention to what he's doing. She said he has a lot of confidence--will raise his hand to answer questions, will write sentences and spell the words the way he thinks they should be spelled without worrying about it--and Rob and I were very happy to hear this, particularly after hearing about some of our friends' kids who are already agonizing about doing things perfectly. She told us that she'd be happy to have another conference later in the year to touch base about how he's doing, and we'll probably take her up on that.
Just in general, he's doing really well, and I've noticed a big boost in his confidence socially. He's been wanting to go to KAH (his aftercare) before schools sometimes, and when I drop him off there, he is less inclined to need a hug and a kiss; he just runs off and does his thing. He doesn't wave to me from the bus anymore (sniff, sniff). He has a lot of friends, in his class, in KAH, and in the neighborhood, and he seems to be finding friends that fit with his personality. As an example: in kindergarten, he was really good friends with Naeem and Grey, but none of them are in the same class this year. He still talks about Naeem, plays with him at recess, and has playdates with him. He mentioned Grey the other night, and I asked if he still played with him. Zack said, "Sometimes, but Grey is really into sports." So he's figuring out that kids have different interests and seems to be OK with that. What is also really nice is that he doesn't have a problem playing with boys or girls. There's a girl his age in the neighborhood, Ariana, who is in his grade and KAH who he plays really well with. Last Saturday, he and I went to the park with she and her mom, then he went to the movies with them (I couldn't go), then they came over for dinner--so about 8 hours of hanging out together and no bickering, no tears, they did great.
So all in all, I think we'll keep him. :) He's generally pretty happy with spells of attitude. He's got the funniest personality and is generally a pretty sweet kid. He still adores the dogs and wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up.