Category Archives: school

Reading Help

So I had a bit of a breakthrough with my 1st grader. I notice when I review vocabulary words with him, if the word is a longer word like cardinal, he just guesses the word if he doesn’t immediately recognize it. ┬áBut if I say to him “come on, you know what c-a-r-d-i-n-a-l spells, he would almost immediately recognize the word. So I got him in the habit of saying each letter when he doesn’t know a word and it seems to really help. When I went through a list of 25 words with him initially, he got 18 of 25. When we went over it a 2nd time, and I had him say each letter, he got 24 out of 25.

I’ve tried to give Max little routines for math, spelling and writing. Try to get him in the habit of doing things the same way each time. This is a challenge, because he seems to do it when I am looking over his shoulder, but as soon as I step away, or when he does work in school, he seems to do what comes easiest instead of the “routine” I tried to teach him. I’m sure if I keep stressing it, it will become part of his routine.

I guess we will see how he does on the next couple of tests and on the worksheets he does in class. Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box a bit, and listen to your child and find what works best for them. Teachers generally have one way of teaching things, and that doesn’t always work for everyone. And teachers are so swamped and overextended, that it’s really up to us as parents to work one on one with our kids.

His teacher this year doesn’t really communicate with the parents very well. So I’ve taken the initiative and e-mail her on a regular basis so I can be more aware of the things Max should be doing.

His last report card was really good, but things seem to be getting more difficult in the 3rd grading period. So I want to make sure we stay on top of things. Luckily math comes really easy for Max, and we don’t have to go over math very much, but the writing and reading definitely requires additional work at home.


The first week of pre-school has gone very well so far. Last year, it was all a very new experience for Max. He had never been away from Rachel and I or Nana before. We had always been his care givers. So he was understandably nervous when he started nursery school last September. He seemed a little hesitant to start pre-school, but as the 1st day of school drew nearer, we kept telling him how fun it would be, and that he would do great. This seemed to be put his mind at ease a bit.

When we arrived on the 1st day, he saw some familiar faces like his two teachers from last year, and that seemed to put him even more at ease. When they opened the doors of the school, he more or less ran into the building. This year, his classroom is on the 2nd floor and is much bigger. He was very excited to be in the “Big Boy” classroom. When Rachel and I turned to walk out of the classroom, we looked at him and he looked a bit scared and lost. But when he came out of school that day, he seemed like he had a great time. Every night when he comes home, I ask him how school was and he always seems to say good or great.

This year, they seem to be doing a lot more interactive stuff. They’ll be doing show and tell every friday. They will have to bring in something from home that starts with the letter of the week. This week they are learning about the letter “L”. Since we don’t have a pet lion, leopard or llama, we decided on bringing in Lincoln Logs. Does he get double points for both words starting will L? ;-). Max is already looking forward to next week, when the letter is F. He plans on bringing in one of his frogs. I think having the kids get up in front of the class is a great way to get them comfortable with speaking in public.

The teacher this year seems to be very organized and regimented which we love. They have a set schedule and they seem to stick to it. They let the kids play outside (weather permitting) for 30 minutes or so each day. Nana has said when Max comes out, his little cheeks are usually rosy and red. So he seems to be having fun playing outside. It rained yesterday, so I asked Max what they did. He said they played hopscotch, leapfrog and walked on cups with rubber bands attached. He seemed to love it. He kept hopping around the house all night.

The teacher is also big on reading. She sent home these little coupons on the 1st day of school. Every time Rachel or I read Max a book, we write down the name of the book and the author. Max brings it in and the teacher will ask him a few simple questions about the story. If he gets them right, he gets a puzzle piece for his monkey puzzle. Max was so into finishing his puzzle that he got all 20 pieces of the puzzle in his first week of school. He’s so proud of his monkey puzzle.

He seems much more ready and much more into school this year. It’s only been a little over a week, so maybe his enthusiasm will peter out as the year goes on. But I think having a good teacher, who challenges the kids, and who knows how to stimulate their minds is making all the difference. Being a year older doesn’t hurt either. In a way, I’m glad he is still only doing 1/2 days this year. I think 4 hours a day, 5 days a week is perfect at his age. It will prepare him for when he starts kindergarden next year. He seems to be maturing and doing quite well. A year ago when he started, he seemed so lost and it was all so unfamiliar. This year, he seems so ready and gung ho. It’s been a pleasure to see him so happy and excited.

Max Can Add!

A few years back, my sister introduced me to this game called “Double Shutter”. It’s a simple game, where you have two rows of tiles with numbers on them. 1-9 in the front row and 9-1 in the back row. You roll two dice, and and add up the dots to shut the tiles of your choice. So if you roll a 4 and 2, you can either flip down the 6 in the front row, the 4 and 2 in the front row, or any other combination of numbers that add up to 6.

After playing at it my sisters house, I liked it so much, I bought one for myself. Max has always taken a liking to the game. Not sure if it’s the bright red tin that the game come in, or what it is. But since we got it, he always wants to play around with it. Obviously, when he was 18 months old, he just liked flipping the tiles and didn’t understand the game. Over the weekend, it was raining on Saturday, and Max was a little bored. After his shower, he asked if we could play “that dice game”. So I got the game out. All the other times, he would just roll the dice and flip the tiles around. But this time things were different!

Max rolled the dice, and I asked him to tell me the value on each of the die. I was pleasantly surprised that he could identify the number of dots pretty much by site. He would look down and see 3 dots and know it was 3 dots, without counting them. That was a nice surprise in itself. At first, I kept the game simple, and if he rolled a 3 and 1, I would have him flip down 3 and 1. As we played a few rounds, if the 3 and 1 were already flipped down, I would say to Max, 3 and 1 make 4, so flip down the 4. He caught on really quickly and started adding the dice up. If the numbers were small, 2 and 1, 2 and 2, 3 and 1 etc, he could do the math in his head. When we rolled bigger numbers (4 and 6, 5 and 5 etc), he would count the dots.

We never really had any “formal” adding lessons. He’s played a few games on the iPad and read a few books that have examples of adding things up, but it’s not something we really focussed on. So I was really surprised and impressed at how quickly he picked up the concept.

Rachel walked into the room when Max and I were playing and heard him say “3 and 1 equals 4”. She looked equally as shocked as me. I’ll have to keep this in mind as Max learns more and more complex things. Find fun and creative ways to teach him, without him really knowing he is learning. As we rolled the dice, all he cared about was playing one more game. He was having fun, and I was having fun watching him and I could see all the pieces of the puzzle come together, as he grasped more and more of the concept of the game. One of countless times when Max has made me one proud Papa.

Hat Parade

Today, Max participated in the “Hat Parade” at school. It was a rainy morning, but luckily the rain stopped long enough for the kids to lineup and do a lap around the school grounds in their hats.

Max also informed us that he has a girlfriend named Remi. According to Nana, Remi refers to Max as her boyfriend as well. Below are a few pictures of Max in his hat. Remi and his buddy Jason are included in the pictures as well. Max talks about Jason a lot, so I guess they are pretty good friends. I hope to get to meet Jason on Friday during the field trip.

Jason is the boy wearing the shirt with the skull and crossbones. And Remi is the girl standing next to Max wearing the pink striped leggings.

Max "Rockin" the fedora
Max and his buddy Jason. Jason is in the skull and crossbones shirt
Max and his "girlfriend" Remi/Remy