Thursday, September 07, 2017

Left vs. Right

With half day kindergarten it seems like a lot of the responsibility of teaching my child falls in my lap, which is fine because I enjoy teaching my children. However, I'm much more of a free spirit when it comes to learning than the curriculum here allows so I'm feeling a little stressed.

This month, for example, Benjamin is, simply enough, supposed to:

  • Memorize and say a phone number
  • Name the five sense and related body parts
  • Demonstrate spatial relationship knowledge
  • Retell a narrative story
That sounds fairly doable to me, but then I've also had the following sprung on me:
  • practice counting to 100 
  • know the quantity, counting word, and written numerals for numbers 0–10
  • know nearly all the letters and sounds of the alphabet
  • read twenty minutes per day
  • learn to print his name with an initial capital followed by lowercase letters
  • print the alphabet using the Slingerland technique (because I'm trained in that and all)
That is quite the list for September. I mean, he's been in school for less than two weeks and already he's supposed to know all the sounds and letters of the alphabet? He's gone through T, F, H, S, and M at school. Maybe I should have sent him to preschool after all...though he does seem to be responding well to reading lessons now (we started over again in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons) so I'm hoping we'll just cruise through the rest of the book and it'll be smooth sailing. We'll see...
Some of these things I'm like, "There are children who don't know these things?" such as the five senses as related to body parts. I feel like my children hear things like, "Use your listening ears," and "Look with your eyes, not with your hands," so often that they should pretty much have that down. 

Other things, like knowing how to write all the letters of the alphabet properly (both upper and lower case, and according to the Slingerland technique), I feel a little overwhelmed by (considering getting Benjamin to write anything at all is a chore and a half).

We're working through it all. Like I said, reading lessons has been going well, and we usually practice counting on our walk home from kindergarten. 

Yesterday he asked me which of his hands was left and which hand was right while we were walking home so I tried to teach him that trick where you hold up your index fingers with your thumbs extended so that your left hand will form an L and your right hand will form a ⅃. 

"The hand that makes the L is your left hand," I said. "Because L is for left."

Benjamin put his hands out and looked at them.

"Whoa!" he said with big eyes. "I have two left hands!"

I explained to him, with all my newfound knowledge of the Slingerland alphabet, that L is formed by going straight down and away from your body (or across your body if you're left-handed), so only one of the shapes he made counted as an actual L—the one made by his left hand. 

"Then what letter is this?" he asked, holding up his right hand. 

"It's not quite a letter at all; it's just a backwards L," I said.

"So 'right' starts with backwards L?" he asked.

"No, 'right' starts with R," I said. "The trick is just that your left hand will make an L. Your right hand doesn't do anything."

"That's dumb," he said.

Sorry, dude. 

I guess technically his right hand tends to hold his pencil, so there's that...

I kind of miss Easley's colour days at the beginning of the school year, where the whole school dresses up in an assigned colour every day to help the kindergarten students solidify their knowledge of colours. That seems like a very kindergarten thing to do, and while it also kind of falls in the category of "probably the kids already know this stuff" that's really only a probably. Knowing colours is literally not even on the list of "core things" Benjamin should know by the end of the year (they're assuming, of course, that he already has that down) but I wish that it was. I wish that colour days were a thing and he was doing a few more fun things than getting right down to the nitty-gritty of academia. Because I feel like he could use a gentler entry to formal education (which is why I was trying to get excited about half-day kindergarten, but really he may as well be in full-day kindergarten with all the stuff we're expected to cover at home: math and reading and writing). 

We'll get through this, I'm sure.


  1. Having done half-day kindergarten with all of my kids over the past 5 years, I'll tell you that they expect them to know WAY more faster this year (even compared to 2 years ago). I think they've changed the beginning of first grade benchmark, so kindergarten teachers are feeling a lot more pressure. Two years ago, the goal was to know letters and sounds by thanksgiving; this year it's day 1. And writing the whole alphabet correctly? We are still working on consistently holding the pencil correctly!

    1. Good to know because it seems like a LOT. :D

  2. "No, 'right' starts with R," I said. "The trick is just that your left hand will make an L. Your right hand doesn't do anything."

    "That's dumb," he said.