Friday, April 18, 2014

Things that your child really does need to know for Kindergarten.

I have a child in the 4th grade.  What, you ask, qualifies me to feel the need to write a post about such things?   Well, I've been there.  Also, I'm at school all of the time and know the struggles that they deal with.  Finally, my brother didn't take my mother's advice and now my niece is repeating Kindergarten.

That's right.  If you thought it couldn't happen, it does.  They DO hold children back in Kindergarten these days.

1.  Name.  Have your child know their name.  What I'm talking about is their GIVEN name.  We have children that come in having been called a cutesy pet family name all of their life.  Their name could be Michael or Jennifer, but they've been called Pookie all of their life.  They go to Kindergarten, the teacher refers to them as Michael or Jennifer and not as Pookie and they haven't the foggiest of who is being spoken to.

2.  Writing their name.  Yes, your child needs to be able to form the letters to write their own name.  Ideally, they need to write their first and last name, but at this point, first would work better than nothing at all.  We had children enter Kindergarten this year who couldn't form the letters to write their own name.  I sang B-I-N-G-O to K to teach her how to spell her first, middle and last name.  (Three different songs.)  It works.  I promise.

3.  ABC's.  They do need to know their ABC's.  They need to know all of them, not just some of them or the ones that just make up their name.  They also need to know them by sight.  More specifically, they need to know the letters out of order.

4.  Sounds.  They need to know those, too.  Yes, this is a skill that they will build upon, but when they start Kindergarten, they start reading.  Yes.  They start reading the very first day.  They don't know their letters and sounds upon entering, they are automatically behind.

5.  Numbers to 20.  We're talking in the same manner of ABC's.  They need to know them in order and out of order.  Throughout Kindergarten, they will need to be able to count to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's without help.  No.  I'm not kidding.

6.  Shapes.  Include diamonds and ovals.

7.  Parental names.  Each grading period, I helped K's kindergarten teacher with grading period assessments.  I would sit in the hall and ask them all of the things that I stated above.  It was amazing how many children didn't know their parent's names.  To call you Mom and Dad is great.  They do, however, need to know that you have a formal name outside of that title.

8.  Birth date.  They didn't need to know their birth year, but they did need to know their birthday.  I had one child who was wearing a birthday ribbon on the day that I assessed her.  It was her birthday that very day.  I asked her what her birthday was and she couldn't tell me.  "Are you positive?"  I couldn't tell her that she was wearing a ribbon, had birthday treats and had been called down to the office to recognize it.

9.  Their address.  Yes, they need to know their address, including zip code.

10.  Their phone number.  So often, a child is sick or injured and the numbers on file with the school have been disconnected or changed.  They have the right, in an emergency situation, to transport your child without your permission if they are unable to get a hold of you, but it is good for your child to just know their phone number.  If you change it, teach that one.

11.  How to open their lunch containers.  Stop hovering!  Your child can and should be able to exist in blocks of time at this point without you standing over them and doing everything for them.  Teach them how to open a water bottle, a thermos, a lunch container, a wrapper. . . So often, the kids aren't able to do that.  Sometimes, of course, every child will need help.  We aren't doing a service to them if we always do it for them.  Dare I say it, but we have to let them grow up a bit, yes?

12.  How to clean up after themselves.  I can't tell you how many times I've been at school after K-1 lunch and have seen that the kids just get up and walk away.  So often, it is just easier as parents to pick up after our children and make the mess go away.  At school, you aren't with them and they have to do it themselves.

13.  How to snap, zip and button their own clothing.  Children need to be able to pull their clothing back up and get it all straight without their teacher.  A kindergartner asked me to snap her pants.  I didn't do it.  We sent her down to her teacher.  I hate to say, but so often there are things said that people do and I wasn't willing to be accused of something I didn't do.

14.  How to wipe their own butt.  You shouldn't expect your child's teacher to do this for them.  First, they have a class to attend to.  Secondly, that's just gross.

15.  How to go to class without you.  The less of a big hairy deal you make about them going off to class, the better they will be.  You can't walk them to class all of the time and you shouldn't have to.  Let those apron strings out a bit!  Your child will now be attending school and as such, crying and screaming for an hour or more after they've been dropped off just isn't real conducive to learning on behalf of the other children.  Let them go and let them be a kid with their people.

16.  The world isn't always going to be fair and both of you need to know that.  Gemma may have gotten more marshmallows than Johnny.  I'm sure that it wasn't purposefully, but you need to both know that not everything is split straight down the middle.  Sometimes one child will be picked for something, but not because your child wasn't good enough.  Your child will get a turn.  I promise.

17.  Sight words.  This is not necessary, but extremely helpful.  If you have a kiddo ready for it, go to your local Dollar Tree and pick up the Kindergarten Dolch sight words.  Chop them up.  Put them in a kleenex box and work on a few words a day.  During Kindergarten (or at least in my child's room) they had the "Word Wall."  They had to know all of the words on the word wall by the end of the grading period.  The "Word Wall" was comprised of 100 different sight words each grading period.  Since your child goes in and starts reading immediately, this is a huge help.

In our school district, there is no test for Kindergarten readiness.  The teachers do the KRA-L test with kids when they start, but the kids start at completely different ends of the readiness spectrum.  In our district, by March, the children are to be able to write a 4 sentence paragraph on a topic given to them on assessment morning.  It is to have a topic sentence, 2 supporting sentences and 1 sentence to "wrap everything up."  The spelling doesn't have to be correct, but the correct sounds must be represented, the correct beginning letter and end letter must be there, the correct number of syllables represented in each word, correct punctuation, and capitalization.  My child, incidentally, goes to a city public school.

My niece was not ready at the beginning of Kindergarten.  She is sassy and strong-willed and determined to do as she wishes.  She can be an ornery kiddo.  She doesn't like to learn, but it isn't quite an option.  She'll be repeating Kindergarten and hopefully, it'll work out better the second time through.

For parents with experience, did I miss anything vital?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The stuffing of the eggs.

514 plastic eggs to be exact.  K is on spring break this week and she asked if we could stuff eggs on Thursday.  Okay.  I'm happy to have the help!

The egg stuffer.  :)  Don't worry.  I helped stuff!
All stuffed!
The "basket pick" basket.
Since the kids are getting older, we opted for some things that the older kids might appreciate.  We're not going to cut them off from hunting for eggs.  Believe me, let's keep kids kids for as long as possible.  What's in the pick basket?  Pencils, glue sticks, erasers, crazy straws, book covers, a pack of stickers, crayons, tracing strips (a lot of them!), pens, book covers and noise makers.

The giant heart is our "not golden golden egg."  The kid who finds it has a special prize inside.  This year, it is 4 packs of gum and little heart papers that you can plant & will grow into flowers.

We have our family hunt at my sister's house.  They are out in the country and she has 5 acres.  Her man goes around and hides the eggs with whatever other man (this year it's my brother Dumpy) and then the kids take off.  They spread out everywhere!  For whatever it is worth, they tend to find eggs into August.  They return them to me for filling the following year.

My part of the family Easter Egg Hunt is complete.  Are you and your peeps hunting?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Clearing, moving, fevering, sneezing, soccer and Coca Cola free.

1.  Clearing.  I managed to get all of my flower beds cleared, including the garden, during the delightful 77 degree weather we had yesterday.  My tree lawn is littered with twined piles of butterfly bush limbs, the wild clematis bail that I cut back to about a 4" stub and the oak sapling that had to go due to being too close to the fence and more concerning-- the top had a major lean because of winds. As it grew, it leaned more and more.  The butterfly bushes number 3 and the tallest gets to about 11' tall.  The smallest gets only about 5' tall, but dies back completely.  It is so much easier to clear the deadness from the beds when things aren't coming up yet.

2. Moving.   The cup flower needed moved since it and the asters were not playing nicely.  It was early enough since it hadn't started up yet.  Last year I tried to split the asters and it was too late.  The split and move were not successful.

3.  Fevering.  2 hours into spring break and K was running a low-grade fever.  She's had a touch of a cold and the fever only lasted about 8 hours.  She stayed in all day Saturday while I was the Gardening Goddess.  She watched unlimited movies on the tiny TV (portable DVD player) and had a jammie day.  It was what she needed.  At one point she told me that she was 54% better.  Okay then.

4.  Sneezing.  Pollen.  My car is covered.  Allegra can only do so much.  We won't turn the air on yet and the pollen is too bad to open the windows.  The house is 77, but we're using ceiling fans.  We'll all survive.

5.  Soccer.  Today was the first day back to soccer for the season.  I tell you, I love i9 and the fact that it is only on Sunday.  K is just not that kid who can do 3 practices during the week with a game on the weekend.  I know that there are family members who suggest otherwise, but school comes first and that is how it has to be with a kiddo who requires a bit more studying time than perhaps others.

6.  Coca Cola.  I'd say I miss it, but I don't.  I'm kind of shocked.  I went cold turkey about a week and a half ago.  Now, I only drank a can a day.  I drank it at the beginning of the day.  I thought it helped focus the ADD, but I think it just made my head feel fuzzy.  I've accomplished a lot more and have been a lot more clear without it.  I'll have green tea or water with lemon.  I think it was more of a want for flavor.

K is feeling better.  We have Easter cupcakes and cookies that we've baked.  We're looking to a nice week off.  :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why I watched 12 Years a Slave with my 10 year old.

Photo from Wikipedia
Last weekend I borrowed a few movies from the library.  12 Years a Slave was on the 3 day loan shelf and I wanted to see it.  I watched it Friday night by myself.  Hubs wasn't so digging it.  K had her archery banquet on Saturday morning and as we were enjoying breakfast all together, I was telling Kay and my sister what I watched the evening before.  

"Mom, I'd like to watch that with you.  We're doing a section on slavery in Social Studies."


After we went about our morning business, we landed back home in the early afternoon and set to watching the movie.

"K, I have to fast forward over 3 parts.  There will be nudity, but nothing that is any different than what you've seen in art museums you have visited all of your life.  There will also be language that is most definitely inappropriate for today."

"Okay, Mom."

And so we watched it.  She watched a free man be sold into slavery, smuggled, beaten and whipped.

She saw how the slaves were on display much like items in a store, left unclothed to be fully viewed as people milled around and were offered hors d' oeuvres while they shopped for humans.

She said, "Mom, there is dust coming up off of his clothes."

"Baby, that isn't dust."  Later, they showed how she could see that it wasn't that.

She watched men be hanged.

She asked questions.  She took it all in.  I then emailed her Social Studies teacher so that she knew.
Ms. K-,

Just wanted to give you a heads up that yes, I did watch 12 Years A Slave with K this weekend.

We were at K's archery banquet and I mentioned to my sister and Kay that I had watched it the night before.  K said, "You know Mom, we're talking about slavery in school.  I'd like to watch that with you."  Since I watched it the night before, I knew that there were 3 scenes that I wanted to skip past (the sexual scenes), but the rest would be okay for her to watch.  I explained that there would be nudity, but that it was no different than anything that she's seen at the art museums that she has been in and out of all of her life.  I explained that there would be language that she wouldn't be used to, but that was definitely improper to use today.

You see, we don't shelter K from social tragedies such as the history of slavery, the battle for gay rights and so forth.  We waited until she was old enough and took her to Gettysburg about a year and a half ago.  She read the signs on the wall and was in tears that people were bought and sold.  I bought her the American Girl "Addy" book and she read it on the way home.  "MOM!  ADDY'S DAD AND BROTHER ARE GONE AND SHE MIGHT NOT SEE THEM AGAIN!"  Truly, an important thing for her to know.  For her presidential report, I explained about "Don't ask, don't tell."  She was so beside herself with DADT that she wanted it to be a part of her oral report, but not wanting to offend people, I told her that we'd just discuss it at home for now.  (She was incredibly passionate about it.  The gentlemen across the street are gay and love on K as only they can.  She has discussed their life arrangement with me and was mortified to hear that even though they love each other very much, they are denied the right to marry.  I was afraid if I let her go in about DADT that Mr. B and Mrs. S would get more calls that they bargained for!)

She talked with me as we watched the movie.  It flashes a little back and forth, so I explained that.  As they whipped them, I told her that wasn't dust flying in the air.  She watched scenes of people being hanged.  She saw the injustice.

We want her to learn from history.  We don't want to shelter her from it.  After all, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -- yes?

Her thoughts?  She thought that it was awesome that I did watch it with her.  History isn't there to be ignored.  It's just not.  It may need some explanation and sometimes, there isn't a explanation for it.  Still, we need to continue to learn from mistakes of the past.   We're all humans and deserve to be treated as such.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The beds are free of flannel which means that it will probably snow 12".

Last week, K's bed was freed from her cozy penguin flannel sheets.  She was sad to have to change to regular sheets, but did as mama asked.  This week was my week to free the bed of flannel.  The polar vortex seems to have moved northward, at least for now, and I wanted to move forth into spring with lighter sheets.

That probably just gave The Weather Channel the green light to name another storm a name often found on some model of vehicle.  Don't worry.  I haven't been brave enough to put the snow shovel away-- yet.  That usually comes right after tax day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Multimedia Extravaganza

That's what my husband calls it.  Tonight is the night that I set the school newsletter.  This evening I have had all of the following going simultaneously:

1.  Bounced between Fugazi and Minor Threat on iTunes and finally settled on Ten Club Radio online, listening to the Pearl Jam's Sydney, Australia Big Day Out concert on 1/26/14.

2.  Answered the phone a few times.

3.  Sent and received texts to get a few of those phone calls.

4.  Typeset the incredibly tiny notes that the recording secretary gave to me, all the while having a conversation on the phone.  When K saw the size of the handwriting, she offered me a magnifying glass.

5.  Listened to the news, Big Bang and now I think Arsenio is on.  And yes, this was while I was listening to the concert online.

6.  Typeset the entire newsletter while bouncing between Word, e-mail and the Scholastic Book Fairs Toolkit.

It drives my husband crazy.  He says that he doesn't know how I do it.

Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns now plays.  It's quiet and a tribute to Mother Love Bone.  I shall shut off my multimedia extravaganza and start to wind down.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Music that makes me happy.

Glen Hansard and Eddie Vedder are singing "Drive All Night" to me on Ten Club Radio.  Though I had heard of him and Eddie working collaboratively, I hadn't heard Glen Hansard's music until now.  It's delightful music that is making me happy.