So, Chuckles finished up a full week of kindergarten today.
They had a fire drill, and when he came home that day, he didn't even mention it.
They take six specials: music, art, gym, computers, library, and science lab. One each day except two on Mondays. Each are a half-hour long and they walk to them in single file with mouths shut and eyes forward.
Our PTO is crazy active and they have promised never to try to sell me over-priced wrapping paper. The only thing they ask that we sell is The Entertainment Book. They do have Market Day and there are some 50-50 raffles (more like 75-25, I think), but I'm cool with that.
Our PTO is crazy active and they begged for volunteers. I've asked Mrs. Marie to be Chuckles's room's Art and Music "Mom". It's some national program to bring fine art and music to schoolkids. I can't remember its real name, but she's excited to get back in a classroom in front of kids. They'll see real/hear art, hear about the artist/composer, and then do an art or music project. It's about a half hour once a month. Mrs. Marie is making lesson plans for Bobo. He's coming along nicely (slowly, but nicely...I think about him going to kindergarten in 4 years, and boy, am I glad he has a November/early birthday).
We did/do have an issue at school. I'm hesitant to talk about it, but here goes. The teacher is currently trying to assess the kids to assign reading groups, etc. I guess there is at least one kid in the class who cannot identify his or her letters. Chuckles is currently reading somwhere around a 2nd grade level (if the guided reading books from the library are accurate).
They are requried to do sight words (and they want me to drill him with flash cards). The first three sight words came home. I AM RED. No, really. The words were I, am, and red. The next day, the teacher asked the kids to raise their hands if they went over their sight words the previous night. Chuckles did not raise his hand and felt bad. Poor kid. So, the next night, I asked him to spell them instead of flash cards, but I, am, and red are a little bit too remedial for him.
We had a meet-the-teacher and curriculum night. I learned that they are doing handwriting from the Sunform method. It's not stick-and-ball. It's letters with tails. I'm not a fan because I feel like the kids never actually learn how to print. They do pre-cursive, but it will be fine.
So, after all the other parents left the meet-the-teacher night, I explained to her why he hadn't done the flashcards, but she had figured it out already. She got him the reading books from the end of the year. Which he read with ease. So, she is having the HA teacher come up with a lesson plan for him.
Reading is not his strength, though. Math is. Two engineer parents, no wonder. She was trying to do a pre-test to show how far the kids went by the end of the year. She asked him to count as high as he could. He asked whether he should count by ones, twos, fives, or tens. Then he counted to 147 and stopped. It only took us to 147 to get to day care, so we rarely practiced counting higher.
He can tell time and do greater than and less than. He can add two-digit numbers without carrying. He can do subtraction without borrowing.
He cannot tie his shoes. He's definitely not ready for first grade.
We mentioned that he's a bit, uhhh, willful (my word) and stubborn (Mr. Long-Suffering's word). So, they are going to come up with open-ended curriculum (no deadlines and due dates). He'll either love it and do it non-stop until it's all complete, or show no interest. He comes and goes. Right now, he is obsessed (just a little bit) with origami, paper airplanes, and building things out of crap in our recycling bin. I find myself saving toilet paper rolls from all over town so he can make more hamster tracks (I don't know if this is some knock-off Zhu-Zhu pet thing he has going on or what).
But, he's following the rules, which is good, because he's willfull. His behavior has been exemplary. He got to be line leader one day and hold the flag for the Pledge another. Every kid gets a chance at helping and jobs. Someone is snack leader, folder helper, etc.
This weekend, we're going to work on shoe tying. He gets a keychain of a tied shoe to hang off of his backpack once he joins the Tie Team. He's oddly motivated by this. I guess the school does a lot of backpack fobs for skills and rewards. It's cool.
We got a blank copy of the first semester report card (that that gave us since they are changing format/forms to align with state standards) so we would know what skills needed to be mastered. He has most of them now. He's not so good with the skipping, so we'll do some of that as we walk to school. He knows his full address but not his ZIP code and his phone number but no area code. And the shoe tying. Other than that, we're good (recognize letters and their sounds, write letters, count to 20, identify 12 colors, and a couple of other things that I would hope most pre-schoolers know).
At the Boo Hoo Breakfast today, the school nurse came in just to tell us how they do things, and I asked how they handle lice (just in case). Gross. I feel all itchy just typing it.
The social worker came in to tell us what she does (conflict resolution, mediation, Banana Splits (for kids of divorce), anti-bullying curriculum, and making good choices for kids with behavior issues).
The lunch lady came in to tell us how they've overhauled the menus. I'm not that impressed with the menus, but since we're half-day, I won't have to worry about it until next year (or I'll just pack lunches).
They do a modified stop light for behavior and starting in a week or two, his color will come home every day so we'll know whether he's green, yellow, or red. I hear that some parents give a prize if you're on green for the whole week. I'd say maybe a special activity (like a Thomas video or a trip to the far-away good park) with mom or dad for a month of green.
Chuckles is trying so hard to be good during the day at school that he's been a bit of a terror in the afternoons. But it seems to be dying down. The first half of this week was rough.
And kindergarten and the transitions, new vocab I need, and the new faces, routines, etc are kicking my arse. I haven't had any contact with grade school since I was in one, so I don't know all the new things. Indian Style is now Criss-Cross AppleSauce Hands in Your Lap. Show-and-Tell is now Show-and-Share. And the Power Parent Portal Password/PIN thing is all new, but there are broadcast emails to parents and twice weekly automated phone calls to update you on events at the school. I don't know how much of this they had when I was a kid (newsletters and whatnot), but I don't remember my parents ever having a clue what went on in school when I was a kid (possibly a combination of lesser communication and my parents' self-selected lower level of involvement).
So, in summation, Chuckles is doing great and I;m overwhelmed.
I'll keep you posted about whether they actually teach Chuckles anything. If we don't get anywhere with this, I might have to figure out whether he needs an IEP, and I really (really) ((Really)) don't want to go there. First grade does have a pull out gifted program, so maybe then. Who knows. Maybe his classmates will have caught up by then and he won't seem so out-of-synch.