Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Medicine or Miracle Grandma Care?

It has been a long week around our house. Jacob came home from school last Tuesday with a temp in the high 99 range. Not quite a fever but he didn't appear to be feeling well. He hovered right around there for 3 days and had mild cold symptoms and headaches through Saturday. Then just as Jacob began to feel better and get more energy again, Matthew came down with a fever on Saturday night.

Matthew never really felt bad on Saturday or Sunday. He just needed a little Tylenol to bring his temperature down. He was upset when I told him he couldn't play with the other kids at the swim meet but other than that he seemed fine. Yesterday morning was the only morning he really wasn't feeling well but he slept for a couple of hours in the morning and was better by the afternoon. This morning he is running around the house like a wild maniac, eating cereal and begging to return to school. I can't wait for the school bus to get here.

Having sick kids is never fun and having them sick for a week is really not fun. At least they didn't really feel sick other than a little more tired than normal and a stuffy nose. It was much better than watching them suffer for a week and not being able to do anything to fix the problem. Either this virus is just a minor frustration or my parents give excellent care to sick children which causes them to heal quickly and feel better even without medicine. I'll give my parents the credit.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Jacob is definitely my sports kid. Any sport. Any time. Hockey is one of his favorites. Unfortunately, he can only play this season. I allowed him to do the introductory lessons so he can learn the game and play with friends. I have tried to be creative and find ways for him to play next year but it just won't be possible. The practice times change every week so it would prevent his brother from playing basketball or any other sports during the fall and winter. It's also very expensive and I just can't justify the expense when there are so many other sports he enjoys.

I did agree to allow him to get street hockey gear for doing so well during the first semester. He has been begging for this gear since last fall when he first saw it at the store. I am sure he will get a lot of use out of it playing with his brother in the driveway. He also got a street hockey ball and he can use his hockey stick from hockey lessons. He can also use the gear next winter when he goes to open skate times.

Jacob was one very happy little boy when he bought the gear last night. He tried to wear it to bed but quickly discovered it was just a little too uncomfortable to sleep in. It is now sitting in a box next to his bed waiting for him to wake up. I am sure it will get more play time today and over the next several days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reading Progress!!!!

Guess who read a book in Spanish last night! I was very proud of him. It is really hard to learn to read in a language that you are just learning to speak. I met with Matthew's teacher a couple of weeks ago and she stated he was having trouble reading. I watched him in class and noticed that he wasn't reading the sight words as quickly as the teacher was showing them and although he was looking in her general direction, he didn't seem to be looking at the words. I asked his teacher if there was anything I could do at home and she stated she would begin sending books home in about a month.

A month is a long time for a young boy to wait to get individual attention in reading. I have never been good at just patiently waiting for my children's teachers to decide they are ready to teach something and have always tried to find ways to supplement the children's education. I just get frustrated trying to help Matthew because his curriculum is in Spanish and there isn't very much available.

I found a book store that had some easy reader books in Spanish and spent way too much money on books. I took some of Matthew's worksheets at school and began working with him at home on reading and writing his "sight words" and he picked them up almost immediately. I also started reading to him at home almost every night from the Spanish books. Yesterday Matthew picked up one of the easier books and started to read it to me before I could start reading to him. He got stuck a few times on the bigger words but overall knew most of the words. I started working with him on looking at the word and picture when he gets stuck instead of just guessing any word that starts with the same letter and he did even better.

It was a huge relief to see him reading on his own and seeing that he will be able to pick up reading quickly once the teacher starts sending books home. We will keep reading at home and I recently started working with him on math to build his number line. He went from struggling to read the numbers in the teens to being able to read them and put them in order forward and backward within 2 practice sessions.

Matthew may still qualify for summer school especially since he is just learning Spanish but he is making significant progress with just a little extra attention. His biggest challenge continues to be having a very limited Spanish vocabulary but that will change as he speaks Spanish and hears Spanish more.

Dreaming of Summer

Matthew returned from school yesterday freezing. He was wearing shorts, a sleeveless shirt and his winter coat. I immediately asked him where his pants and sweatshirt were since that it was he had on when he left for school. He stated he took them off at school as soon as he got there. He then spent the rest of the day freezing because he didn't want to wear his pants or sweatshirt. The high yesterday was 15 degrees.

All I can say is ugh!!! I also told him it is still January and he needs to save the shorts for basketball on Saturdays and Summer. He wrapped up in 2 blankets and tried to convince me he wasn't cold in his shorts. It didn't work. While I believe in natural consequences, a kindergartner wearing shorts in the middle of winter is not okay. Hopefully, this is the last time we will have to have this conversation. Or at least until he is in high school.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Report Card Time Again

Our school district doesn't distribute reports cards until 2nd quarter of the school year. It drives me nuts. The 1st quarter parents meet with teachers to discuss progress. This leaves the perspective of if the child is performing as well as they should be to the teacher and doesn't allow the parent to be able to decide if it meets the parents expectations. I am one of those parents that looks at my children's work whenever they bring it home and stays in frequent contact with teachers but still wants to know what the report card says.

Jacob and Matthew both did very well. Matthew is learning in Spanish and so I expect his grades to be slightly lower due to needing to learn Spanish as well as writing, reading and math. The children in his program eventually catch up academically and I just have to be patient. His teacher told me that he was struggling a little bit due to not having a large enough Spanish vocabulary so we have started working with flashcards and reading more books in Spanish. I have seen steady improvement.

Jacob did better than I expected. I spoke to his teacher about 2 weeks ago. She hadn't started assessments and testing yet but wanted to warn me that his grades might be lower than last year (mostly reading and writing). The district is using new standards that are much more difficult. There was also an article in the paper earlier this year stating that children's report card scores would be lower due to the new standards. I am all for asking more of our children so I don't have a problems with higher standards. His scores actually improved over last year.

I am a strong believer that parents need to have high expectations for their children and be involved in their educations. I don't think parents need to be "tiger parents" and demand perfection but I do think children should be encouraged to do their very best. Whatever their very best is. I know for Jacob that means performing mostly above grade level and anything in reading or math that is not above grade level is something he can work on a little more. That doesn't mean we sit at home and run math drills for hours every night but it means we work on fun math games and have reading and writing time at home. For Matthew, it means working on learning to speak and understand Spanish through fun Spanish programs on the computer, reading Spanish books and working on Spanish flashcards to increase vocabulary.

We work for about 15 minutes at a time about 3 times a week. Pretty much, any night we are home before 8:00 we work on reading or math for a few minutes. That works well for us. I don't force it on nights we have other activities since bedtime here is 8:30 and I don't want the kids to be tired the next day. They won't learn as much if they are tired and that 15 minutes will not have helped.

Education is extremely important in my home. Not only do I want to have the children performing well enough to get into private school later if we want, but they are going to college. It's not a choice. I want them to be able to get in to any school (within reason) they choose and that means having a good educational foundation now. It's my responsibility as a parent to make sure that what we do now will not limit their opportunities in the future. That means getting a good education now so they can use that foundation later.