Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Deep Thoughts: Grades

Anna June brings home good grades. But not all children do. In fact, recently, I have been in conversations with moms or relatives of kids who repeated Pre-K, Kindergarten, or First Grade, because they simply were not ready to move up. In one case at a private school, there's an intermediate class between K and 1st for those kids who need a little extra time.

I get it. It is hard to develop socially, physically and academically all at the same time. Most kids do without thinking about it, but some struggle.

In these conversations I realize how ridiculously lucky I am that AJ has such an easy time.

I'm a little worried, frankly, that she has it too easy. I don't want her to be bored. I've talked to her teacher about it, and she says that AJ doesn't seem bored and is certainly not disruptive. Just like her parents before her, she is a joy to have in class.

If she finishes her work early, she gets to play on the class computer or iPad. There's a game she particularly loves and I can tell she rushes through her work to get to play. I can see it in the backwards numbers. I can see it in the empty blanks and the letters left off the ends of words. 

I spent some time this weekend making her rewrite the words that she missed or threw a backwards letter in. She had to rewrite the numbers correctly and fill in the blanks, even if she "didn't have to" at school. I am trying to convince her to take the time to get it right instead of just doing the bare minimum - she's obviously capable of it.

Her grades are good - she has straight 100s on her spelling tests, and I haven't seen less than a 90 on any given homework or test that has made it home.

I'm trying to find the balance in letting her be a kid, and goof off and play, and shaping her into being a serious student, which right now (to me) means having her correct mistakes and get the answers right.

Evidently, I haven't been doing a good job about telling her why.

This morning I asked her,"Why is it important go get good grades?"

She thought about it, but was stumped. "To be a better person?" she answered, tentatively.

While trying not to be too hard on myself, I told her that, no, we try to get good grades to show we've learned something.

She pointed out that, technically, if you already know something, you could get good grades to demonstrate that you "know what you need to know," whether or not it was recently learned.

She is right, of course.

We discussed how having good grades is good but does not mean you are a good or a bad person. I asked her what she would do if a friend got a bad grade. "Nothing," she said. I thought that was a decent response, and said that, yes, it was none of her business. At this age, I want her to not worry about the struggling kids, and leave it between them and their teacher and parents.

We'll continue to work on the fact of being good in school does not make someone a good person - it just means that they are good in school. 

And I'm sending up a prayer for those kids who are struggling and the parents who don't know what to do - I surely wouldn't. And a prayer of thanks that AJ is doing so well.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ninja Turtle

Anna June spent some of her tooth fairy money on getting her face painted today. Her choice? Ninja Turtle, with yellow. (Do not argue that there are no yellow ninja turtles. Just don't.) Elaine from Painted Personalities did a great job - I love her work.
We were at CrestFest, a neighborhood event. I bought local beer, honey and hummus. AJ hula hooped and ate a banana cream Hawaiian Shaved Ice, then hula hooped some more. Unfortunately, she felt sick after the straight rush of sugar then cardio, so we headed home before I could buy art, jewelry, or candles (none of which I NEED)...
I was kind of bummed out I didn't get to say hi to everyone I wanted to. So, if I missed you, "Hi!"
Another fun party in the books!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sorry! And Grades

Anna June is fine, and I just wanted to apologize to everyone for not posting for so long.

We've had a lot going on. Ben started a new job at the same company. We went on a trip to Milwaukee. First grade is now in full swing, and it comes with its own set of friends, homework, activities, and problems.

Personally, I've had a lot going on. I had a grant to submit at work. Being on the PTA Board is more of a time commitment than I could have imagined. I feel like I just can't get my act together.

It's embarrassing, actually. I've been trying since Sunday to make a pot of chili, but haven't had an hour and a half to do it. I may yet abandon it again for a glass of wine and an episode or two of a television show.

I'm in a cycle where I am so stressed out that I can't sleep. Which makes me tired. Which makes me unproductive. Which makes me stressed. Which makes me not sleep.

To top it off, I have had a headache for several weeks. It goes away with OTC meds, but comes back when they wear off. It's the same low-level, annoying cycle I had this time last year. My doctor prescribed serious medicine that made me non-functional, but did cure the headache. I'm looking for a day when I don't have to do anything so I can take the Rx and knock out the pain (and myself). So far, I don't see one available.

I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time. "Let me finish one thing before I begin another," I say to myself. This strategy, of course, does not work, because a woman's/mother's/decent employee's work is never done.

I've been reading some about meditation, so I am trying to focus on my breathing in and out, because that is supposed to relieve stress.  But when I breathe in it's like, "oh my goodness I can't really breathe well still think this headache is under-treated allergies I have an appointment next month did I take my medicine?," and when I breathe out it's like, "when I get done with this quiet time I have to put the clothes in the dryer and unload the dishwasher and did I renew the library book?" I'm not really in that mind-state of nothingness yet.

Since November, things at work have been crazy because a person left and was not replaced. It has been nearly a year - I've recently had some serious conversations with my supervisor. Why am I telling you this? So you'll nod your head and say, "Yes, I have been there, too." It may have led you to quit, or go back to school, or be downsized for speaking out, or promoted because you could recognize an organizational problem when you saw one. For me, I am still waiting.

Furthermore, AJ does not like hearing that someone found something out about her online. She is mortified that I have a blog. Too bad for her - unless all of our relatives magically end up in Birmingham, I will probably always have one. 

I have about a zillion posts drafted. I have photos on various devices and web storage areas. Somehow, I will cobble this blog together again.

Enough excuses. Here's an actual post about Anna June:

Anna June herself is doing quite well. She's a star student. She got her first progress report of first grade on Friday - can you believe she's already been in school for four and a half weeks? She got ALL A's! We are so proud.

I spoke to her teacher today and she said that there's research supporting the demise of the traditional spelling test. I am floored. My grandfather told me that he used to have the dreaded spelling tests every Friday when he was in grammar school. I was happy that AJ would be carrying on the old tradition - and I think it's vitally important to the future of our language and communication itself that people learn to spell correctly.

Instead of the old way, Anna June's class is divided into five groups. Each group goes to the teacher's desk while the other students are in various learning centers. Anna June's group is the most advanced, naturally. The children, one at a time, while the others read books to themselves, read the spelling words to the teacher. In the advanced group, they will write the words, too, for spelling, but the lower-level groups will just work on reading the words. I like how they are working with the kids on their levels. I know AJ can be doing more, but for now, we need to ease into this. She has actual tests! With grades!

She got a 90 on her first listening comprehension test (they called it a "reading" test). When I saw the actual test, I was not surprised she missed the question, which was something like this:

"How do you know the story is make-believe?"
A) Max is a rabbit  B) Max can talk C) It is on a Tuesday.

The answer was B, but she chose A. I am not surprised, as she has told me multiple times that she can speak the language of animals. She speaks dog, cat, and duck, I think.

I am glad she is six and can still, "speak dog." I hope she never outgrows that.

I asked her if she could please keep getting all A's until the end of 12th grade. She said we should take it one year at a time. I think that is reasonable.