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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

20120826-094835.jpgHow is it that we’re already at third grade? Where did the time go?

I have a feeling I’ll be saying this a lot in the coming years, right?

New school, old friends & hopefully new friends
This year our school district shifted things around. There are two schools (West and Central), and they were both K through 8.

West is literally in our backyard, and for the past three years, the neighborhood has been filled with hundreds of kids walking to and from the school. Until now.

To better even out the distribution of students, teachers and expenses, the district decided to merge the two schools, making West 6 through 8 and Central K through 5. This means, the munchkin is now headed to Central, renamed Elementary.

This, as you can imagine, caused more than a little consternation on the part of my 8-year-old. We’ve tried to reassure him that all of his friends are in the same situation. The school administration has done a good job of helping the kids get acclimated, with field trips to the ‘new’ school at the end of last year.

We’ve also tried to explain that the students who had already been at Elementary are probably just as upset. They now have all these interlopers invading their space, their school, their teachers.

And the up side of this whole thing is the possibility for new friends. 😉

All of this seemed to help, and the first two days of school went off seemingly without a hitch! Yay!!!

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a successful year! Here’s hoping your school years will be just as good!

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We’ve had a bit of a sad week. My son’s first grade teacher passed away this week.

My understanding is that she had cancer. She did not teach last year because of it, but felt well enough this year to come back. Everyone was thrilled. She was a woman in her 60s who had made a career in teaching young minds. And she was absolutely wonderful for the munchkin.

She got him. I mean, really got him, ya know? She understood that he was a smart little boy (maybe too smart sometimes), who understands how to manipulate situations to either get his way or make his way easier. She and I were always on the same page when it came to how to handle these innocent manipulations.

We made him do the work. 😉

He often tries to get others to tell him the answer so that he doesn’t have to waste his time trying to come up with them on his own, can get his work done faster, and then can have more time to focus on what he wants to focus on: everyone else. My dad often jokes that he’s practicing to follow in his footsteps as an administrator.

Mrs. S. knew how to handle him, and he respected her for it. Mrs. S.’s passing is a sad day for us all.

Her kids loved her, respected her and knew that she pulled no punches — and that they weren’t going to get away with anything in her classroom. And they learned. They learned the joy of reading and writing. They learned the joy of learning.

And for that she will be truly missed.

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Back in January, I stumbled upon a post on the Teach Mama blog about the Target Read With Me program.

The program is a campaign designed to get every child reading by third grade so that students can make the important transition from learning to read to reading to learn. And Target’s also pledged to donate $500 million to support education – doubling its support to date – for a total of more than $1 billion dollars.

As part of this initiative, Target decided to kick off the campaign by giving one lucky teach mama reader his or her very own iPad and a just-for-your family selection of children’s books, valued at over $599.

As you can imagine, being an English major and writer, anything to do with reading and literacy is near and dear to my heart. Plus, the chance to win an iPad and children’s books make it even more intriguing. 😉 So, I entered the contest.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I received an email from Amy at teach mama that…I won!!!

Yep! Can you believe it?!? I certainly couldn’t. And, neither could my husband or son!

I received it just the other day, along with a collection of children’s books, including Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Shel Silverstein‘s Where the Sidewalk Ends, two Caldecott award nominees/winners (my son was ecstatic about these two): Where the Wild Things Are and Strega Nona, Bedtime for Francis and Papa is a Pirate.

Right now, I’m typing this post on the iPad, and we’re having a ball reading all the great books from Target and teach mama. We’re soooo grateful for this amazing blessing: to receive an iPad and books with which to continue to teach my son the value and joy of reading and with which my husband and I can have some fun with all the great apps! ;-p

Thanks so much, Amy and Target, for the chance to win this great prize. We’re looking forward to putting everything to good use!

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Image by: Demion

So the other day when I picked the munchkin up from his after-school program, I asked that standard question, “Did you have a good day today?”

“Yep. Good,” he answered.

Of course, we all know that you have to dig a bit deeper to get to what really happens each day, right? So, I follow-up with: “What did Mrs. S. teach you today that was the most fun?”

“Oh, Mrs. S. wasn’t there today. We had a substipitute.”

“A wha– oh, a substitute,” I interpreted. “Did she do things the same way Mrs. S does them?”

“Nope,” came the fastest reply known to man. “Uh….noooo. Noooo waaay. Not even close.” Said with a dismissive wave of the hand, lift of the brows and shake of the head.

Clearly Mrs. S. takes the gold in his eyes. I’m so glad. I lift my cup of java to say, “Here’s to hoping first grade continues down the positive path it’s been traveling. And, here’s to Mrs. S. The munchkin loves ya!”

I’d love to discover our Common Grounds. Drop me a comment to let me know what crazy things the little ones in your life have said/done recently? 😉

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Soap Bubble

Image: Reini68

As I walk into the living room to check on the munchkin, I spy what looks suspiciously like spilled liquid on the sofa cushion. “Ah, munchkin? What’s this? Did you spill your water or something?” I ask calmly.

“Nope,” he says, eyes averted.

Okay…now I know something’s going on. “Okay…did your juice box spill, then?”

“Nope,” he says, eyes flick to me and then away again.

Right. Okay, time for a stronger approach. “Look, honey. I can see something spilled on the couch, I just need to know what it is so I can figure out how to clean it up. So…what is it? Water? Juice box? What?”

“Nothing, okay! Nothing,” he says frantically.

“I’m not going to be upset, hon–”

“Yes you will!” he interrupts. “You’ll be mad at me!”

Okay, now I know something’s going on. Accidents happen. Nothing to flip out over – especially something as simple as spilled food or drink. Come on. Get real. But he’s worried that I’ll be mad. Why?

“I promise I won’t be mad, honey. Please just tell me so I can clean it up,” I plead, again, calmly.

“BUBBLES!” he shouts, the word practically bursting from his mouth.

I stare, dumbfounded. “What? Um, bubbles?”

He nods, eyes downcast. “I took the bubbles out, and I knew I wasn’t supposed to. But I did it anyway. And they spilled. *Long pause.* I’m sorry.”

Lesson Learned

Aha. Well, connection made. He was upset because he knew he’d done something he was specifically told not to do – no opening/playing with the gigantic jar of bubbles in the house because the opening for the liquid is too big. Case in point.

Lesson learned.

“Oh. Um, I think some of it might have gotten on the pillows, too,” he says, smiling shyly and picking up two of the throw pillows that clearly show a lovely splash pattern on them. “I’ll help you, Mommy.”

Crazy munchkin.

The bubbles are gone, the couch is clean, and all is right in munchkinland again. Thank goodness.

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fill in the blanks

Image: massdistraction

My soon-to-be-six-year-old is freaking out. He’s in Kindergarten, and he’s stressed. About what, you may ask. The answer: first grade.

Yep. He’s stressed out about how hard first grade will be. He’s five. No one should be stressed out at five.

It’s the Whole Apple-Tree Thing

Now, if you know my husband at all, you’d know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The hubby ended up with an ulcer in third grade because his teacher rode him so hard about his handwriting and how horrible she thought it was.

Really? Handwriting? Have you seen some people’s handwriting? In the grand scheme of things, is this really what we should be harping on?

But I digress.

‘Homework gets harder, Mom.’

This was the statement that greeted me this morning as we made our way to his before-school program. It kinda took me off guard.

“Yes it does,” I answer, intelligently. 🙂

“First grade is harder than Kindergarten, second grade is harder than first, and by the time you get to eighth grade, it’s super hard!” says the munchkin. “I don’t want to go to first grade. I want to stay in Kindergarten. I know the homework in Kindergarten.”

“You’re right that the work does get harder as you move up in grades, but do you know what else happens?” I question. *Pause for dramatic effect.* “You get smarter.”

Silence for 5 seconds. “Ohhhh…so, because I get smarter, the work isn’t really harder.”

Bingo! Pretty good logic from a stressed-out-soon-to-be-six-year-old-Kindergartner, huh? (I was impressed, but then I guess I’m a bit biased.)

We’ll see if this continues to assuage his fears, or if they keep on a-comin’. I’ll keep ya posted.

Have you faced similar hurdles? How did you handle them?

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children posters teacher

Image by TheChristianAlert.org

This week we participated in our third parent-teacher conference. Based on last quarter’s discussion, we knew essentially what to expect.

The munchkin excels when he chooses to.

His teacher describes him as funny, smart and…reluctant to learn. She’s right. He doesn’t understand “the point” of school.

What’s the point?

We had a conversation a couple of weeks after he started school that went something like this:

Me: “So, how do you like Kindergarten?”

Munchkin: “I like it!” <Pause. Pursed lips. Furrowed brow.> “All except those worksheets.” <Insert eye roll here.>

Me (trying not to laugh): “What’s wrong with the worksheets?”

Munchkin: “I don’t know. What’s the point? Why do we have to learn something? Can’t we just have fun?”

And that pretty much sums it up. Needless to say, we had a frank conversation about how “learning something” is the point of school. And that those worksheets are just going to get more frequent and harder as the years go on. So learning them now is important.

Where’s the pay off?

The thing is, it’s not important to him right now. He doesn’t understand the “pay off” as his teacher put it. Again, she’s right. To him, there is no pay off. What’s the point?

We’ve tried to talk to him about college. That that’s when you  get to choose what you want to learn (becoming a paleontologist, for example), what you’re interested in, what you want to do for a living. But, really? A five-year-old’s going to get this? Right.

How do you teach that?

There’s an issue that further complicates this whole thing. How do you teach the whole “everyone-else-in-the-entire-class-is-sitting-on-the-carpet-right-now-waiting-patiently-for-instructions-which-means-you-should-be-too” philosophy?

He sees them sitting there. He doesn’t feel like sitting. Again, he’s thinking, “What’s the point? Why can’t I just stand?”

Right. What’s the answer there? Because everyone else is sitting, you should too? And the rebuttle? Ten years from now, we’ll be saying, “If everyone else decided to jump off a bridge, would you follow?” Uh-huh. It’s a bit hypocritical, no?

The social nuance of “right now you should follow what everyone else is doing because it’s social etiquette and necessary based on the classroom environment and because you’re too young to rebel against the system” is lost to the munchkin.

So what’s the answer?

Good leadership skills

A new blogger friend of mine, SomeGirl, recently commented about strong-willed children on the Changing Tactics post. She describes her oldest child as having “good leadership skills.”

I thought that was perfect! From now on, that’s the term I’m using to describe the munchkin’s strong-willed I’ll-do-it-when-I-want-to-do-it-and-when-it-makes-sense-to-me  nature.

Eventually, this attitude will be a good thing. Eventually, he’ll realize the point of learning. Eventually, he’ll understand the social nuances of proper etiquette.

Eventually.

Until then, I’ll be embracing his leadership skills and trying to steer him in a positive direction.

How do you deal with your strong-willed children?

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