But I'm going to ignore that all for a bit and talk about my kids. They are getting so big: 7 and 10 now. I don't write about them as much because less of their story feels like mine to tell. I miss writing about parenting, but now that the issues we deal with are more individualized, it is harder for me to figure out how to write about it. A lot of babies wake up in the night. A lot of toddlers are picky eaters. There were individual details in our experiences, but the broad experience was widely shared. That is not so true now. I can see it when the old day care crew gets together. We still talk about our kids. We've known each other since our now 10 year olds were babies! But we aren't all commiserating about the same problems anymore. We're all figuring out different issues.
The parenting thing I'm currently thinking about the most is how to make sure Pumpkin gets to stretch her skills at the "right" level, whatever that is. She recently told me she's been bored at school a lot these last couple of months, which is what got me thinking about this. We chose the Spanish immersion school for a lot of reasons: we wanted our kids to learn a second language, it is close to our house, we liked the school... but also because we hoped the language immersion would stave off boredom.
The immersion program bought us through 2nd grade, I think. There was a lot of language to learn, since we are not a Spanish speaking household. Then her 3rd grade teacher was really good at challenging different kids in different ways. Her 4th grade teachers were great, too- it was a team taught classroom, and I really liked some of the things they did. But for whatever reason, she got bored. I don't know if this is due to the increase in class size that comes with 4th grade here, or if the curriculum is less hard-charging in 4th grade, or if it was just when it was going to happen.
She did a lot of independent reading in class because she was finished with her work, and with the extra credit assignments on offer. I don't really mind that. I certainly did a lot of independent reading in school, too. But since she said she was bored, I think that's not enough. So I'm thinking about what we might do.
She really, really wants to stay at her school through 8th grade. I like that idea, too, for the convenience, and for the fact that at the end of 8th grade she should be able to pass the AP Spanish exam and also an exam that assesses biliteracy. These things seem like good things. I also like what I've seen of the culture of the middle school at our school, and think it would be good for her.
So, we need a plan to keep her growing at her current school. The school is not big enough to do pull outs for the high achieving kids, and apparently that's not the preferred way to handle them anymore, anyway. Maybe she'll get a teacher who finds a way to keep her challenged, but maybe she won't. I'd like to have some ideas about what to do if she still says she's bored.
I don't care so much about the boredom. Learning to accept a little boredom is an OK thing. But I do care that she gets to grow her skills as fast as she wants. Here are the ideas I've come up with so far:
- More challenging independent reading, both in Spanish and English. She likes this idea. Her teacher from last year just lent her Anne of Green Gables in Spanish, which I think will be more of a stretch for her than her usual Spanish picks. And tonight, when we went to Barnes and Noble to get the latest paperback in the Land of Stories series (which she loves), she decided she also wanted to buy a copy of War and Peace (in English). I'm curious to see what she makes of that. She said if she thought it was too hard, she'd just put it on the shelf for awhile.
- More non-fiction independent reading. She's game for this, but we're having a hard time finding books at the right level. The things we find are all too easy or too hard. I need to do some research.
- Focus more on music. I think I channeled some of my energies into getting better at music at this age, and that is something that served me well over the years. Coincidentally, 5th grade is when the school band program begins, so she could conceivably be working on two instruments next year (piano and whatever she picks for band).
- Bump up the intensity of our Chinese lessons. We do really low key Chinese lessons. We started before we got into the Spanish school, and we've kept them because the kids like them. We could ask the teacher to assign homework or something like that.
- Try a programming course. She's not shown a lot of interest in programming, but she does like building new things in a couple of her favorite games (Geometry Dash and Roblox). I could figure out what those actually are and see if we could parlay that into some programming interest.
- Find more academically oriented or otherwise skill-building summer camps. She likes this idea but I hate it because it complicates summers more than they already are. But it is probably worth considering.
That's what I have so far. I'll keep thinking over the summer. Additional ideas welcome in the comments. Next time I'm in the mood to mom blog, I'll write about Petunia. There are things I'm thinking about for her, too, but at least she's not bored at school yet (she's still in the phase in which the language learning is keeping her busy).