Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The 2015–16 School Year Thus Far

Tonight I went out in the pouring rain to attend the Third Grade Parent Orientation. In a couple of weeks we'll have the Kindergarten Curriculum Information Seminar Thingy. It's all very official. The school year is well under way and I fear that I'm already so frazzled that I fear I'll never be able to sign another form ever again.

Initial kindergarten homework.
Initial kindergarten reading.
Initial weekly take-home folder.
Initial third grade reading.

Thank goodness I don't have to initial third grade homework every day.

Getting the kids to do the work is enough of a chore. They expect me to remember to sign off on everything I've clearly made them do? They can't take my child's word that they read twenty minutes? I'm expected to make note of how long my kindergartener read aloud for?

I had her read to her three-year-old brother while I was nursing the baby and helping with third grade math problems while helping the kindergartener sound out words, thank you kindly. I didn't think to glance at the clock every time she started and stopped a story.

My kids love reading though, so getting them to read for the required time every day isn't an issue. It's getting them to read what the teacher wants them to read. When Miriam finished reading her "take home books," (which she has to re-read every day this week (to build fluency; I get it, but still)) she said, "Ugh. There. I finished my levelled reading. Can I read Miss Nelson Has A Field Day to Benjamin now? Please?"

Of course I told her yes.

Honestly, we've been trying to convince the administration to have Miriam be "accelerated" into grade one. I sent and email, trying to word it the best I could, all the while trying to not sound like "that mom." The response I got was clearly an effort to shut down our efforts. I'm not ready to stop trying.

But I'm also not sure what to say without making myself a nuisance.

But perhaps being a nuisance is what's necessary.

It's not that she's not happy in kindergarten, because she is, but she's the kind of child who would be happy anywhere. At least, anywhere there are friends to be made. It's just that I don't want her to waste away another school year. She was stuck in preschool when all her friends went to kindergarten and that was hard for her. And now all her friends are in grade one and she's a kindergarten baby. But not really because she's just as capable as her my opinion. She's well beyond what an incoming kindergarten typically is.

I really don't want her bored all year. I really wanted her to start kindergarten last year but they wouldn't hear of it. From what I heard full-grade acceleration is easier to convince the administration of. But we shall see. We're already nearly a month into the school year.

I can tell by the way I'm swimming in paper already. Seriously. What happened to having a notebook and practicing all your letters there? Do I really need to see that my daughter wrote the letter 'a' twenty times? Not really, but thanks for sending that sheet home. I'm so glad she got a star sticker. *smirk*

Aaaaaaaaand straight into the recycling bin it goes!

Really, a notebook kept in her desk at school would do. Then I could ooh and aah over it at the end of the school year and everything would be neat and tidy and...not floating all around my house because "we can't recycle this, Mom!"

Seriously—what is with all the paper?!

Anyway, Third Grade Parent Orientation was fun...because that's a word I now use to describe parent orientations, apparently.

I'm the room parent...again...which is fine. It's my fourth year being Rachel's room parent. Thank goodness someone else volunteered to be room parent for Miriam's class.

Rachel's teacher seems lovely. She has a nearly-three-year-old boy. She's got a thick southern accent and a beautiful smile. She loves teaching and Rachel's been loving her class so far this year. She moved up with most of her little buddies (which was nice because last year she was separated from her little group of friends and had to restart).

Hopefully I'll meet Miriam's kindergarten teacher soon and then maybe I'll change my mind about how I feel about her...because so far I'm not very impressed.

I guess I just feel a little lost, having missed the meet-the-teacher night!

And I still feel exhausted from the end of last school year. I haven't filed away any of Rachel's end-of-year treasures or anything. It's like I was busy having a baby and galavanting across the country or something.

And the homework! Ugh!

Rachel's good about her homework. She comes home and pulls out her homework and does it. It's usually a quick math sheet or a short reading. She also has spelling words (though she gets to pick her method for studying and isn't required to do anything ridiculous like write the words in chocolate pudding (*I shake my fist at you last year's spelling homework!*)).

But kindergarten?!

Beyond reading to my child, which I've done with every one of my children since birth (and, frankly, with the exception of Rachel, since they were in the womb), I don't think my kindergartener needs silly, pointless, excruciatingly dull tasks sent home for her to accomplish after she's been at school the whole day.

She gets on the bus at 8:00. She gets off the bus at 4:30. She does not. need. homework.

She needs to PLAY. She needs to swing and jump and draw with chalk and chase with her brother and snuggle the baby and dress up her dolls and not have her mother harping on her about circling all the words "at" and "a" and "is."

Because she's five.

She's almost six...and admittedly we're pushing for a move to grade one, so you might be thinking, then, that I'm a bit crazy for wanting to move her up a grade. But in grade one, Rachel didn't have homework, and that was lovely. We're hoping we can get the same thing for Miriam...

In fact, I'd happily say, "Down with homework for everyone!"*

(Science says so, too!)

So that's basically how I'm feeling like the school year so far. I'm feeling "make it stop!" I'm feeling "five-and-a-half weeks until fall break!" I'm feeling "listen to me!" I'm feeling "blah."

All in all you could say I need an attitude adjustment.

But at least at the end of the parent meeting, where we were reminded about what we needed to sign weekly and what to sign daily and when to send Billy to school in tennis shoes and when to send Sally's library book back to school with her...there was a beautiful rainbow.

So perhaps the school year will turn out alright.

For now though, I'm dreaming of fall break. And the beach. Or the mountains. Or both.

* In elementary school, at least.


  1. When Kelli was in Grade One, but I should have insisted they move her to Grade Two, they had these stupid "newspapers" that she had to read a gazillion times for fluency...but she was already reading chapter books out loud fluently so she didn't really need the practice. In her case, I could have negotiated for her to do different reading, but SHE wanted to be the same as everyone else. So she was way too bored, and that bred some unruly behavior for sure. That is my first comment. My second comment is, remember Mrs. Bienert "I didn't expect her to do ALL the homework..." She gave so much homework for the kids who didn't have a life beyond TV, hoping that the homework would get them doing SOMETHING. So, I say, let Miriam be a slacker. It isn't like she doesn't already know how to read. She does know how.

  2. I would talk with Miriam's teacher. I think the administration will be much more likely to skip her a grade if the teacher is on board. As for homework I think they should have none except reading until like 6th or 7th grade (or maybe a gentle ease into it.) My kindergartener had homework too! Mom's don't need one more thing to do.

  3. I'm actually feeling a bit better about things today. Miriam's teacher finished testing her and talked to me after school; she thinks Miriam could easily move up a grade. Her reading level was beyond the goal for the end of grade one, and her math's good as well. So now she has to be tested by the AIG coordinator, but it's good to know that her teacher feels she should move up as well.