Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kindergarten Progress Report

I have a couple of serious posts half-written in my drafts folder, but I feel like writing something happier today. So I'm going to give you a progress report on how we're all doing with the transition to Kindergarten. The short version is: we're doing well.

Everyone was excited on the first day of school last week. Pumpkin could hardly wait to put her backpack on and head out to school. She insisted I take this picture, showing her backpack:
She also decided to get he hair cut shorter right before school started. She looks so big now!
Petunia was excited, too, and insisted on putting on her "pa-pack" and walking along with Pumpkin- she didn't want to get in the stroller for over a block.

First block of the first day walk. Not sure why it looks like I'm running. I wasn't!
We deposited Pumpkin in her spot in line on the playground. I hung out next to her for awhile, and watched as she met the two girls on either side of her in the line. Then I gave her a big hug and retreated to the sidelines to watch the scene and blink back tears until it was time for the kids to go into their classrooms.



I left work early that day, excited to go hear about Pumpkin's day. She had done great. She didn't seem too concerned by the fact that she couldn't understand everything the teacher said. For the most part, that has continued, although Sunday night during bath she said she wished she went to a school where the teacher spoke English. We talked a bit about why we're going to this school, and she moved on to other subjects. Yesterday, she was excited to go to school, just like usual.

She brought home her first stack of worked papers yesterday, and she is doing well with the writing practice, coloring, and basic numbers work- which isn't surprising, because she knows her numbers well and likes to write and color. There are several papers with Spanish words on them, which we'll practice at home, both to help her and because we want to learn Spanish along with her as much as we can. I've also put "listen and learn" Spanish CDs in both cars, and now spend my morning commutes repeating Spanish words rather than listening to news or music. I spend my afternoon commutes listening to whatever music Petunia picks out.

Petunia has had no problem adjusting to going to day care without Pumpkin. She got a new teacher at about the same time as Pumpkin started school. The previous teacher in her room had left to go care for her elderly mother. Petunia has really taken to her new teacher, who has lots of interesting new activities for the kids. I am more determined than ever that we should keep Petunia in this day care, even when my company moves to new offices in a less convenient location. I have a lot of thinking to do about how we'll make that happen and how I'll respond to the upcoming office move, but the move is at least a year away, so I can postpone that for now.

Mr. Snarky and I are probably the ones struggling the most with the transition. The school's schedules things at mildly inappropriate times- a back to school picnic by the bay started at 4:30. We left work early and got there at 5:30. The open house night, which will be our only chance to talk to Pumpkin's teacher in English*, starts at 5:30, which will also require leaving work a little early. Having talked to our coworkers with older kids, though, we feel fortunate- a lot of schools start things like this at wildly inappropriate times for working families.

We're slowly finding new routines. It turns out that picking just Petunia up from day care is much faster than picking both girls up was. I haven't really been able to pinpoint why, but the net result is that I think I can still get home in time to make dinner at the usual time, even with the double pick up. The double drop off is harder, and the morning commute for the parent doing drop off now takes at least 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. Mr. Snarky is getting up 15 minutes earlier, and we're all working hard to get him out the door by 7:45, so that he can be in his office for his 8:45 morning meeting. I am trying not to schedule anything before 9:30 on Thursdays, which is the day I have to do drop off.

The hardest thing, though, has been absorbing the extra chores into our evenings. The paperwork from school will stop soon, I hope. But I'm now packing a lunch and snack for Pumpkin everyday. I do as much as I can during evening snack the night before, and then make the sandwich in the morning. Pumpkin likes butter, strawberry jam, and gouda cheese in a pita pocket, and that doesn't really keep well overnight in the fridge. It took quite a bit of effort this summer to find a combination that was acceptable to her, though, so mostly I'm just happy that I have a reasonably healthy lunch I can pack for her. I've signed up for the system that lets her buy lunches some days, but so far, she hasn't wanted to try it.

So all in all, the transition is going well. Pumpkin is happy at her new school and learning Spanish. Petunia is still happy at day care, even without her big sister there. Mr. Snarky and I are figuring out the new routines, and hanging in OK.

And now I had better go get started on that new morning routine. How has back to school gone for you?

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*All the teachers are fully bilingual, but the K-2 teachers do not speak English in front of the kids- this helps with the immersion program.

22 comments:

  1. Cute kiddos!

    "a lot of schools start things like this at wildly inappropriate times for working families" YES, that. Everyone, everywhere has been telling us this is the case. Ugh.

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    1. Our school seems better than some! As the daughter of a teacher, I'm sympathetic to the need to keep things that require the teachers' presence to quasi-working hours. I was a bit bemused by the fact that the entirely parent-run back to school picnic started so early, but it is better than one of my colleagues' schools, which had a back to school picnic that started at 2:30! At least ours was feasible for working parents.

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  2. That school sounds amazing! I hope I can find something like it one day when my hypothetical children are school aged!

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    1. We actually have three language immersion magnets in our district, a couple language enrichment magnets, and one bilingual charter school. And lots of other interesting magnets and options, too. I was reasonably impressed with the offerings when we started looking into them. Class sizes are a bit larger than ideal, but so far, they've managed to keep them reasonable. And of course, there is a lot of fundraising for the "extras" that shouldn't be extra (art instruction, science night, etc). We decided that we would give fairly generously, since the cheapest private option we considered was over $10k/year. We haven't figured out how we'll split our donation (which, to be clear, won't be $10k!) between our school and the district at large, though. Our school also has an active grants committee, which I may choose to get involved with.

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  3. Yey for Pumpkin!
    My middle boy started kindergarten, too, and so far he has been complaining that he doesn't like it and wants to go back to his daycare. He says "I have to do everything that the teacher says!" *pout, arms defiantly crossed*
    His teacher is not the warmest person around, from what I can tell. Another girl from his daycare goes to his class, so they play together and in afterschool, which I think helps. I am trying to be patient and tell myself he'll eventually get into the swing of things.

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    1. Oh, that's classic! Pumpkin is a little rule follower. I don't think she's realized yet that she could willfully disobey a rule at school. It will be interesting to see when she figures that out! I hope things settle down soon for your son.

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  4. E started grade 1 this year, having to bring her own lunch and snacks for the first time. So far she's loving it, her best friend sits at the desk next to her. Her favorite lunch is "ham roll-ups" - small wrap spread with cream cheese, a ham slice, ketchup, and rolled up. But then she'll also happily eat cold leftover pasta, so I do realize that I'm spoiled.

    No homework so far. There was none at all last year in kindergarten. I think the policies about homework are a bit different in Canada.

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    1. Oh, the papers that came home were things she'd done in class. We did get some homework though- to print out one picture per year and make a timeline. I'm curious to see how the homework expectations progress. I don't see the point of a lot of homework in kindergarten, but I may be in the minority of US parents on that!

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  5. As hush noted, the tendency of public schools to schedule events at difficult times for WOH parents is universal. I should also warn you that the volume of paperwork is unlikely to decrease - I get 3-5 items a week for each kid, in addition to homework...

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    1. La la la... I'm not listening... The paperwork is going to taper off... La la la. :)

      As an IT person, I am partly appalled and partly amused at how much redundant data entry they are making me do. I'd never get away with that in the systems I manage!

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    2. Relatedly, when my children entered school (and started activities like sports) it became clear that I'd be writing checks about four times as often as I had been previously. Lots of small payments, mostly only payable in cash or check (the exception is the lunch tabs - they now mostly let you pay for lunches online, with ridiculous fees.)

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    3. Huh. Now I'll have to go check and see if the lunch payment thing has any fees. I didn't see any... but I didn't look very hard.

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  6. I had a comment, but forgot to hit post or something before handing my computer over to DH so he could talk to HP for 3 hours about why my relatively new computer shuts itself down in the middle of doing nothing occasionally. (They will get back to us in a week.)

    I love the backpack picture! Very colorful! (I'm also wishing we were living in California...very pretty.)

    DC1 loves peanut butter and jam, and sometimes even makes his own sandwiches.

    He's doing a little too well. We're hoping that this is just review and that he starts learning new things soon. Surely they must though, because at the end of the year they'll be doing all sorts of neat things on their own. (Reading Charlotte's Web is on their list, for example.)

    He's also gotten a yellow for behavior this year-- talking when the religion teacher was talking.

    Otherwise things are going pretty well! Well, except that the school is going to run out of money in January or February and needs extra-normal fundraising again, but details...

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    1. Sorry about the comment! And thanks for the compliment on our front yard. It isn't at its prettiest right now. It is much nicer in spring. It also smells awesome in the spring. We have sage and some purple flowers that I swear most be used in potpourri.

      One of Pumpkin's classmates has a nut allergy, so we're not sending any nuts for lunch or snack. I think we could- they have a nut free table they use for eating at. But it doesn't seem worth the risk. Of course, if Pumpkin's one sandwich she would eat was a normal PB&J instead of our weird jam and gouda thing, I might feel differently! As it is, I just told her no cashews for snack.

      It turns out that Pumpkin has landed in the yellow zone on behavior too. She can't figure out why- her Spanish isn't up to it, I guess. I am shocked, because she will generally follow any rule a teacher gives her (rules supplied by parents, not so much...) We're guessing it is related to talking. We'll find out more at the open house night, I hope. Or I could email the teacher- she actually sent home her email address, which is pretty awesome, since I can't actually talk to her. But I don't think we need to do that. Yet.

      Sorry to hear about your school funding issues. I hope it works out. It sounds like such a good place for DC1.

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    2. I understand that sunflower butter is popular as a peanut butter substitute in nut-free places. They sell big jars of it at Trader Joe's (or at least, they used to).

      DC1 is a rules follower too... but he got distracted. We get a post-it note home with the infraction. Just like last year, DC1 is enjoying telling us about the kid who regularly gets in trouble (this time it's a boy instead of a girl). I'm not sure if his awe is a good or bad thing.

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    3. Don't get me started on sunbutter! (sunflower butter) It's repulsive, as it's sister fake nutbutter, soy nut butter. My kids are at a completely nut-free school, and it's hard for us, because they eat few sources of protein besides nuts (and dairy, so they eat cheese every day for lunch). My very picky eldest will actually eat sunbutter, and I think it's hilarious (he won't eat ANYthing), but I think it's because they serve it for snack at school & the other kids eat it too. I'm not sure. But, yuck.

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    4. mom2boy8:19 PM

      Congrats on kindergarten! I think I would be a nervous wreck sending Tate to an immersion school and I'd feel compelled to be learning the language right along with him. I'm excited to see how you all do. Go Pumpkin! :)

      Oh California, how you are so different. Tate started school this week. (Still pre-k) It's a nut free facility. I couldn't pack Tate a lunch he'd eat beyond grapes so he's stuck (and omg I am being so sarcastic) with the school lunch option. Today it was heaven, pizza - whole wheat crust natch - broccoli, pineapple and cottage cheese. I can't wait until next week when they serve him baked fish and brown rice. I wish I could make this up. But hey, groceries are cheaper! :)

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    5. @mom2boy- our day care was nut free, too. But luckily, they start providing food from when the kids turn 2. Our school lunches look fairly reasonable- they even have a local produce program. But Pumpkin has so far refused to try them, which did not surprise me. At least the packed lunch we've settled on is reasonably healthy.

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  7. We're in the middle of week 4 and so far it's okay. At first DD1 had the same attitude as GMP's middle boy... not liking having to follow all the rules. But, she does follow all the rules without complaint. 'Course, that's pretty tiring so she takes it out a fair bit on us when she's home. Fortunately, we had an option for half-day (since I'm still home.)

    As for the paperwork: I mark each piece on the back with her initials and date. Right now it goes chronologically into a pile but eventually the plan is to have one file folder per month to be kept in a document box. At the end of the year, we'll pick key pieces to keep and consolidate the collection into one file folder. Thanks Pinterest!

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    1. We have a big art folio we shove papers we want to keep in. Other papers that Pumpkin wants to keep go into one of her plastic art supply boxes, bought for this purpose. And we "garboflage" a lot.

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    2. We leave all his work in a big pile on the kitchen counter. At the end of the semester/year it all goes into a big box in the attic. I'd sift through and recycle the worksheets (who cares how many addition problems he can do in a minute), but we're always worried that we will need to prove what he's done for future placement.

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  8. We're having a great first couple of weeks, but it's very simple for us, because the kids go to Montessori, and they're in the same classrooms with the same teachers as before, and in fact little Pooh was in the same room all summer, so he had even less transition. The 4 y.o. is leaving his naps behind, though, which is a big adjustment, since now I have to put them to bed at the same time again (a juggling act for one person). He's doing great, though. Man he loves school.

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