Sunday, August 21, 2011

Registration, conference and school supplies done!

There is nothing more to do but wait now. Jacob is registered for school, his supplies are packed and we have been practicing getting to school early for the past week. Matthew will be registered this week and we meet with his teacher Wednesday night.

Registration: Jacob will be in kindergarten and Matthew will be in 4K this year. The way the district set up the 4K system this year (it will probably change again next year) is that 4K students from our attendance area are bussed to an elementary school about 1 mile from our home. Not too bad but it means the kids will be attending different schools with different start times. Matthew starts class at 7:40 and Jacob begins at 8:30 so we have 50 minutes to drive 1 mile. Enough time to come back home for a quick breakfast or cartoon (or maybe some extra reading if this mom has her way).

Ready Set Go conferences: I absolutely love these. All elementary students and their parents have an individual conference at the beginning of the year to discuss the students. It is a chance to talk about our family and how we handle issues such as making gifts for father's day. It is also a chance to talk about how we celebrate adoption and Ethiopian culture and find ways to bring some of that culture into Jacob's classroom.

The teachers also write short individual learning plans for the children. The learning plans address academic goals and social/emotional goals. Jacob's teacher was really impressed with how much he already can do. There was another teacher who works with children in small groups who need extra help. She stated it was clear Jacob would definitely not be one of those kids. His goals for the year are to be reading words by the end of 1st semester (he can already read and spell some) and reading books by the end of the year. My guess is he will be reading books long before the end of the year. He's already getting really close. His social goal is just to work on building his confidence which he lacks when it comes to learning new skills. Something he is getting better at but still could use some improvement.

Matthew has his ready set go conference next week. I already spoke to his teacher on the phone about some more sensitive issues but am looking forward to talking to her face to face this week with Matthew. I think it's important Matthew see that I am working with his teacher and we will have the same expectations. My goals for him is to be able to recognize all of his letters by the end of the 1st semester and be able to write them and know their sounds by the end of the year. For social/emotional it will just be that he contiune to work on social skills and following directions. Standard 4 year old preschool goals. I would also like to get rid of some of these tantrums he has had in recent days. I'm not sure where they are coming from but this is definitely a phase that I hope is short lived.

Last night Jacob and I packed up his backpack and school supplies. He needs 1 more notebook because I accidentally got one college lined. I can use that one (my school supplies are also here and ready to go) and I will one more for him this week. Matthew's supplies are also ready to go but he was really tired last night and fell asleep before we could pack them up. Jacob and I will drop off his supplies Thursday morning and Matthew will take his with him on Wednesday when we have his conference.

Then all we have to do is wait. And continue to practice getting up early and reading together. Jacob starts school Sept. 1 and Matthew begins Sept. 6. I start my last year of graduate school (woo hoo!!!) Sept 8. I really like Jacob and Matthew's teachers and believe this will be a great year for both of them. No more bad day cares (they will stay at the center they are at now for after school care) and no more worrying about if their daycares are giving them what they need to be successful. There school careers are starting and mine will be ending in just 12 months.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Culture Camp 2011

Jacob, Matthew and I attended culture camp for the first time this year. The camp, Ethiopian American Culture camp, was held in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. There were about 300 attendees and everyone had a great time.

We were originally going to camp but after arriving decided it wasn't the best set up for our family. The area the families were setting up tents were right on the edge of the area where the kids were playing and the music and dancing would be until 10:30 at night. I felt our family needed more privacy and a place to go if anyone got overwhelmed. Matthew had a little trouble Saturday so it was actually a good move.

We were lucky to be able to move into 1 of 2 cabins where people had cancelled their reservations. The cabins had 4 bunk beds (8 beds), a table with chairs, a ceiling fan, lights and electricity. Much nicer than the tent near the campfire.

The camp was a lot of fun. Jacob and Matthew learned how to write their names in Amharic as well as some new facts about Ethiopia and Africa. They met people who grew up in Ethiopia and even a couple that stil live there now and were just here visiting. There were Ethiopian American families and teenagers and there were many families that looked similar to ours. Matthew's favorite part of the camp was learning how to do traditional Ethiopian dancing. It was fun watching him dancing and even more fun watching him really enjoy spending time with an Ethiopian grandmother.

Jacob and Matthew both came home with lots of fun stories and even more importantly a new sense of pride. Jacob was proud of his Ethiopian heritage and culture and Matthew was proud to have an Ethiopian born brother. They are already looking foward to next year's camp and I am hopeful we will be able to attend again.