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Friday, October 5, 2012

Odds 'n Ends

Things have been busy around here since school started.  Not as busy as some folks probably are, but busy for our family.  Highlights:

School started.
We went to Seneca Hills for an end of summer camping trip Labor Day weekend.
I volunteered to coordinate a Bible Study at church on Friday mornings.
Erik and I started teaching Jr. High Sunday School on Sunday's.
I volunteered for Secretary of the PTO and Chairperson for the Back to School Picnic and Open House.
Lessons at the YMCA started back up.
After the 1st week of lessons at the Y, I wondered why I committed to doing two nights a week at the Y.
Walker started 4H.
Walker registered for Fall Flag Football at the YMCA.
Walker registered for Winter Basketball at the elementary school.

The kids love school, love their teachers and are doing well.  I have said several times already that if I had been privy to what I know now last year, I wouldn't have fretted nearly as much about Walker and his reading/English/language arts tests as I did.  The boy hasn't been bringing ANYthing home to study in the past four weeks and he's got all A's and a few B's.  He can memorize poems and recites them in front of the class to earn a prize.  He still cannot grasp the "take your backpack off, put relevant paperwork on my desk, hang your backpack up and take the lunch box to the kitchen" rule we have in effect, but I'll settle for the good grades.

It does, however, beg the question, "If he can get these grades without studying, what could he do if he applied himself?"

So, I've become a wholehearted supporter of the philosophy that some kids aren't ready developmentally to grasp the concepts that are being taught with our school's curriculum (a whole other story in itself) right now.  I will no longer fret over Cs, Ds, and the occasional F.  It's funny because a few weeks ago, Walker had brought home a math paper that they had done in class that done ALL WRONG and his teacher asked me to review it with him.  That meant I rewrote all of the problems and made him do the whole thing over.  Double digit subtraction.

For a few hours, he HATED ME and everything about me and school was STUPID!

So I gave him a break and a little while later I explained to him that double digit addition and subtraction was all I ever expected him to be able to do in math.  That while I appreciated that there are jobs and careers that demand higher math skills, I would never demand more than this.

That, and along with an explanation of why this basic math is important, ("If Daddy has 54 bales of hay and he sells 37 of them, how much hay do we have left to feed the goats for the winter?") seemed to be the game changer for him and now he often comes in the door saying he completed his homework on the bus.  I check it to be sure, but so far, everything is right!

Maggie is your typical first grade girl.  LOVES school, LOVES her teacher, and well, her only complaint daily is that I have screwed up something about her lunch.  Maggie's teacher is absolutely lovely and I know I am really going to enjoy this year.

Our one stumbling block with Maggie is that she is not good at memorizing.  She has a list of 35 High Frequency Words that she has to memorize.  HFW are words that you can't sound out with phonics.  Words like "where, here, was, the" etc.  As a result, she stumbles over some of the words frequently and has been referred to the Title 1 Program at school.  It's a weird system, because each week, Maggie is given her spelling words and most often can spell all 10 of the words correctly the first day she is given the list.  These words are usually decodeable using phonics, so from that we have learned Maggie is an auditory learner.  She was afraid to start Title 1 at first, but her teacher for that class is also lovely and really has a heart for helping children learn to read with fluency.  

Me with the kids on the first day of school
We chose not to send Willie to preschool this year for several reasons, and while some days I really wish I had, most days, it is a lot of fun having him around.  I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do with Whitaker next year when Will goes to school they have become such good playmates.  Will and Whit go to story hour at the local library on Wednesdays and we do preschool lessons here at the house together when Whit takes a nap.  
My crowning achievement for our preschool sessions.  While studying the letter A, we made an Alligator craft by cutting out a big letter A, turning it sideways like this < and adding big eyes and sharp teeth to show that A is for Alligator.
When Erik got home that night, Will couldn't wait to show Erik his craft and he said in his proudest, most excited voice, "Look Daddy!  A is for CROCODILE!"

SO, future Kindergarten teacher, you will have me to thank for Will's mad Kindergarten skills. 

Will on the day of his first Story Time at the Library.  He dressed for the occasion.  He doesn't understand that wearing a contrasting patterned tie actually goes against the popular belief that wearing a tie classes up any event.  Silly redneck.  Let's ignore his hand position as well for now.  

Whitaker is a constant joy to our lives.  An acquaintence that saw us recently and had heard of our Foster Parenting adventures looked at our little blond haired, blue eyed Whit and asked if he was one of our foster children!  Anyone around us long enough would be able to tell he's ALL SCHWALM from the tractor noises and his affinity for anything with a motor.   Ask Whit his favorite thing to do and he'll say, "Cack-er Pull!"  and make the appropriate noises.  He also loves "Monkey cucks" (monster trucks) and that is what 95% of his day is filled doing.  The other 5% is eating and sleeping - and occasionally potty training.  If there's one thing I learned potty training my previous children is that my boys will go on the potty when they are ready and, honestly, Whittie is my baby so there's no rush in my eyes before he's three.  Say what you will,  but once he's out of diapers, there are no more diapers for this family, so I'm not going to rush making my baby NOT be a baby anymore.  

I am pretty sure he won't go to Kindergarten in a diaper.  I know that because I'm on the PTO and I know our school doesn't allow kids in diapers to attend Kindergarten.