Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earth-shaking start to Kindergarten!

The first day of Kindergarten is now tucked away in our memories. It went very well (except that part about the massive earthquake we had in the middle of the first day of school!).

Mari has been so super excited about Kindergarten. I think it confused her at first when we made the decision to start a year early because I had always told her she had to be 5 to start K. But after a couple "practice" days in her K class, she was more than ready to hop right in and could care less if she was the youngest in the class.

We keep a calendar on the wall to mark off the days and help us keep track of upcoming events (so when she asks me 100 times when we are going to the beach, I can tell her to go count the days). Here she is posing with her calendar....the schoolhouse sticker doesn't stick as well because school was originally supposed to start after Labor Day but they decided to move it forward 2 weeks (so I had to move the sticker!). This worked out great for us because it shortened the wait time (she was SO excited) and also alleviated the problem of our beach trip interfering with the start of school.
I'm guessing this will be the first in a series of pictures....hopefully, I will do this every year!

Doesn't she look super grown up?? I almost lost it here. I did okay with taking her this morning. I had a huge meltdown last week so I was better able to handle my emotions today. I had to drop her off in the K classroom on Thursday because we beat her preschool teacher to school. This is not too unusual but when I saw her name on her seat and that the classroom was ready for her, I lost it! She saw her name on the table and was said "Do I start today, Mommy?!?!" And I said "NO!!!!" I wasn't ready. But I'm glad I got those emotions out of the way early.

Cannot believe that my little fairy-hater, superhero-lover picked out a Princess backpack!

Puh-lease Mommy, stop taking pictures and take me to school!!

I made her take one last picture outside of school. She was being silly by that point and was pretending she was a pirate...."Argh, Matey!"

When we walked into school, she suddenly became shy and attached herself to my leg. But once we got into her class she saw a couple of friends that had taken the summer off and she was thrilled to see them again. And her best friend was dressed almost identically to her (same plaid, but in shorts and exact same polo shirt) and she nearly knocked Mari down hugging her. They kind of did that hugging/jumping thing, ran out of the classroom to give their preschool teacher a hug and then ran back in. I got a "Bye Mom, I love you!" and I was back in the car kind of feeling breathless.

Luckily, I had a busy morning at work to keep my mind off of the day and I had just slowed down and was starting to feel a little teary when the whole world started shaking. EARTHQUAKE!!! It was surreal. We were just kind of sitting there looking at each other, afraid to ask one another if they had felt anything. It was a 5.8 centered about 70 miles from us. It was scary given that I work on the second floor of a 3 story building. I was worried about being the middle part of a sandwich. It was all I could do to finish working the next 90 minutes before school let out.

It was all okay in the end. Everyone was safe and no damage. And Mari didn't seem to care about the earthquake.

She had a great day at school. She said it was "WAY easy" and that she did pretty good with listening but maybe not so good with staying in her seat. Which is exactly how I knew her day would go.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ready or not, Here We Go to Kindergarten!

Haven’t blogged in awhile. We’ve been busy this summer and working on some decisions about the upcoming school year that I didn’t want to share on here. I purposefully didn’t share what was going on because I know there are strong opinions on both sides of the picture and it was a decision that I needed to make myself without any outside input. Finally reached a decision and I’m feeling really good about it.

Our big decision is to send Mari to Kindergarten this year. She will one day shy of 4 years and 5 months old. I originally blew off our pediatrician’s suggestion to petition the school system for early entry. I felt comfortable with where we at and what we were doing. Then, in the course of some general playtime, I discovered that Mari knew how to add – actually, when I asked her if she knew what math was, she sat down and wrote herself a worksheet of addition problems complete with + and = signs and then solved them. I was speechless. I showed her how to subtract and she caught on to that like wildfire. Coupled with the fact that she was moving through her reading levels at school at a quick rate, I began to research just what is necessary to be “Kindergarten ready”.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding K starting age and there are people with all kind of opinions regarding it. What I’ve found through my research (and asking people that I trust) is that it is a very individual thing. Most people will say that being the youngest in your grade is a disadvantage except that everyone that I’ve spoken with that started early (before age deadlines were strict) said it really wasn’t a big deal. There is also a movement over the last decade supporting holding children back until they are six. But new studies are showing that this doesn’t necessarily help children unless there is a specific delay. It’s a pretty mixed bag….what it all boils down to is the individual child and their needs.

Some of the things that qualify a child to be “Kindergarten ready” really surprised me. I guess from the standpoint that I was surprised that most kids aren’t ready to do them by Kindergarten. But then again, my child has been in daycare/preschool for over 3 years now and the school she is at now is very structured. I’ll explain more about our choice of schools in the next post but I’ll just mention that the current class she is in for preK is more structured than the public K and even 1st grade that I visited.

Some of the things that deem a child as Kindergarten ready include: able to stand/walk in line of children, able to be a line leader, able to sit for periods of 15 minutes to listen to a story or do seat work, able to change activities with minimal redirection, able to follow 2-3 step instructions, able to feed oneself, able to handle bathroom activities themselves. None of these should be a problem. Mari does tend to be a jumping bean when it comes to sitting for activities but only if she’s bored…if she has something to focus on, she is fine.

As for the academic readiness, that’s a whole different ball of wax. Things that are considered K-ready include:
*Recognizing and writing first name - she can do her whole name as well as most of her friends and teachers
*Counting objects to 20 – She can count to 138 (the highest I’ve listened to), she can count to 100 by 2s, she can write all her numbers up to 100 if called out randomly, she can add and subtract as long as she has enough fingers and toes for the problem.
*Recognizing basic colors – She’s known her colors since she was 18 months old.
*Recognizing and drawing basic shapes – Not a problem.
*Recognizing some letters and their sounds – She can read most Level 1 books and has short and long vowels down. She’s pretty good at sounding out words phonetically when trying to write them. (Like she wrote Perry the Platypus as "Paree the Platdepos".)

Sooo…..we went and had her evaluated at the public school (again, more on school choice later) and they assessed her to be at a high level of K/going into 1st grade level. The reading specialist said (and I quote) “She read better than any of the incoming Kindergarteners I’ve assessed this year, she’s way ahead of most of them.” That was 3 months and several reading levels ago.

I’ve had to question my motivation for placing Mari in K early. It comes down to keeping her happy and motivated. She LOVE LOVE LOVES doing schoolwork and worksheets; she will turn off the TV (her love) to do math problems. We read together all the time and the worst punishment I can give her is to take away evening book time. I come from the background of being one of the smartest kids in my class – never having enough to keep me busy or challenged, always being the outcast for ruining the curve or always getting the best grades. I don’t really want Mari to be in that position. She’s still going to be super smart even if we start her early but I want her to have to work and stay focused. You can already see the difference in her behavior when she’s bored vs. keeping her mind busy.

Is she ready to climb on a school bus and ride 45 minutes to elementary school, stay focused in a class of 20-25 kids, stay safe in a school of several hundred, ride the bus home 45 minutes? No! But is she mature enough to handle a small Kindergarten class with kids she already knows and a teacher she already loves, using a curriculum that has already proven to be outstanding? Yes!

So we start Kindergarten in less than one week. Help!