Friday, July 28, 2017

Evelyn's Kindergarten Year

Over the course of Evelyn's kindergarten year of school this past year, I started several potential blog posts to collect my thoughts on aspects of kindergarten. They weren't necessarily fully formed posts though - more of just brief observations/opinions. So to summarize the year, and since 1st grade starts in only a few short weeks, I'm talking about those observations/opinions here, as well as documenting pictures from the first and last day of school.

First Day

Evelyn's Kindergarten Year | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Last Day

Evelyn's Kindergarten Year | shirley shirley bo birley Blog

Homework

Friends that are parents of kids who aren't in school yet or friends who don't yet have kids: I thought I was done with homework after I was done with school, but alas, I failed to take into account that my kids would someday enter school and have homework.

After a particularly rough night of homework earlier in the school year, where several hours were spent on a single worksheet of 100 (age appropriate) addition problems, both Greg and I were mentally taxed. Not at the difficulty of the homework itself. But at the continuous babysitting and handholding and scolding related to the homework in order to not only get it done, but get it done right.

There was some improvement during the year, in that it wasn't always as painful as that one night, but it was still often an effort.

Side note: #2 is my favorite from this 10 Tweets About Homework That Will Make You Reach For The Wine article.

Juggling

As a parent who works full-time outside of the home, I found this past school year that I needed to be better at leaving work early enough to pick up the kids and get home at a decent time. Usually this means leaving the office by 5:15 pm, otherwise I'm cutting it close picking up Evelyn by 6:00 pm.

I also realized that our week nights have to be more structured in order to get through homework, sight word practice, reading, dinner, bed time routine, etc.

I can't even fathom right now doing any extracurriculars during the week. How do parents who both work full-time outside of the house make that work with all the other things that have to happen at night between getting home from work and bedtime? Teach me your ways!

Also, confession: our house is often messy, especially during the work week. Apparently, things don't tend to stay clean and/or neat when you have kids? It may or may not actually get cleaned up during the weekend. It may or may not also depend on whether we have company over the weekend.

There was also one day later in the school year where I happened to get home a little earlier than normal, and I felt like it made such a big difference in what I was able to accomplish around the house alone, and focused on chores (Leaving Work Early a.k.a. Normal Time).

Apparent Tiger Mother

Greg also accused me earlier in the school year of being a Tiger mother. I was both offended and proud at the same time. It was during a minor tiff over Evelyn's schooling, and in this particular instance, the discussion included talk of Chinese school, weekday nighttime schedules, and teaching sight words.

It was also after a 45-minute session of trying to practice 20 sight words, the first batch of 20 out of 100 to be learned by the end of the school year. It was rough and the Tiger mother in me is like, We practiced all 20 of these words, like, four times already, why don't you know them yet?! Of course, not all kids learn the same way, and my method of memorization of flash cards was not as successful as Greg's Skittles-incentivized session.

It was this difference in approach between me and Greg that drove Greg's comment that I'm a Tiger mother. Part of me felt a skosh offended that he was putting down a method/mindset/approach that (in my opinion) produces many high-performing students, me included. It's worked for so many, why not Evelyn? I thought. I don't have a good answer, except that it's hard to get away from the Asian academic mindset.

I also want my kids to at least know some Mandarin, and yet I feel like it is a losing and/or uphill battle in a household where English is the dominant language, not only because of Greg, but also because it's what I would consider my primary language.

Three Rs

Reading and writing skills seemed to happen faster than I thought. Of course, in the moment, I'm sure I didn't think it was going very quickly, but looking back, I sort of can't believe it only took one school year. There seemed to also be an increased focus the second half of the year on basic math, though there were a few moments along the lines of "No, 5 + 9 can't be 9!".

There was somewhat of a learning curve at the beginning, but there was also improvement in (better) following classroom rules in order to not get her behavior clip downgraded to yellow, orange, or (gasp) red.



First grade is starting in a couple of short weeks. Hopefully she didn't forget all the things she learned last school year over the summer!

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