Nothing on the teasing/race issue below. We are going to ask about it during parent-teacher conferences which is yet a couple weeks away.
Meanwhile, we are finding that even after nearly an entire school year, Nat is still...spacey? Distractable? It's hard to put a finger on, really. Here's an example.
Everyday, the kids have to hang up their coats, put away their book bags, change from boots to shoes, etc. before they can enter the classroom. It regularly takes Nat 20 minutes to get through all this, for the sole reason that the minute she sees another child--in her class or another--she is completely disinterested in the coat task and watches the other people. So as soon as her classmates arrive and start in with their coats, she's busy watching them. If we show up early, so that she's the first, she invariably sees other kids in the hall, etc. and it still takes her for-ev-er to get the coat task done.
BUT. If she has some motivating factor she is perfectly capable of getting the coat hung up as fast as I could do it myself. In short she CAN do it, but usually won't. Apparently she has similar behavior in the classroom.
When I've observed her, she's been distracted by the other children while she's working on something simple like spooning rocks from one bowl to another. It'll take her 30 minutes to move the rocks, because she's stopping every kid who walks by to interact with her. But then I watched her concentrate perfectly and engage in a perfectly typical way with a box of cards with story problems on them, which she had to read, then formulate equations and solve them using the Montessori beads with which, I know, many of you are familiar. For 20 or 30 minutes she worked on these story problems without interruption, even though her best friend was working on something else right beside her.
My diagnosis is that certain things bore her and she doesn't care to make herself do them when there is an alternative (like social engagement, which is usually her favorite thing). But given something with just the right amount of challenge (the math/reading activity was just a bit over her head, but not so much that she didn't feel competent to work at it).
I am convinced, though, that if she were in a more average type of school, she'd be labeled a problem child. The teacher says she's never seen a kid so "spacey" as Nat who didn't have some kind of cognitive issue like ADD or sequence processing issues or a spectrum diagnosis. Nat has no other "red flags" for these kinds of issues. So the teacher--with all her years of experience attending closely to a zillion individual children is stumped.
Me, I think it's just a very pronounced personality quirk. And I am grateful that A) there is a school where her quirks aren't overly problematized and B) that Cole and I are able to stay on top of what's going on at school and protect her right to be quirky.
I realize that she will have to be capable of moving according to a clock and to someone else's timetable at some point in her life, but I also think that learning that is far less important than doing whatever it is she's doing in her head now, instead of moving to that clock. I also think it's of virtually no importance at all for a five-year old. Again, I'm glad she's in a school where it's less important than it would be at most schools.
But this is just the sort of thing that makes me interested in homeschooling. Yes, it's annoying when Nat won't put her coat away in a timely manner (we struggle with it at home too), but it is so very unimportant to me, really, that she do. Of much more importance is that her right to be quirky and grow into whoever that quirk indicates she is, be protected.