Tag Archives: school

New School, New Problems

With Max starting a new school this year, Rachel and I were understandably nervous. The first few weeks were not easy. Max seemed overwhelmed by some of the work, and dreaded doing his homework because it was so hard and took him so long to complete. We started to think maybe we made the wrong choice for Max. The struggles at school, seemed to be affecting him in all aspects of life. He was grumpy and irritable, he seemed to lack focus, and even struggled with baseball. He was striking out, making errors. September was not a good month for Max.

But then something weird happened. Everything just sort of started to click for him. Homework that was taking him 20 minutes to do, he was now finishing in 5 minutes. Papers he was getting minuses on, he was not getting pluses on. He got his first math test back and he got a 100. And his whole demeanor changed. He seemed happy again. He started to look forward to going to school. He started hitting the ball again, and his fielding improved. We got his first interim report last week, and his teacher noted that she was very encouraged by the improvements she’s seen Max make. He gets his first report card in two weeks, so I’m anxious to see what his grades are like. I’m hoping that the grades he got early on, don’t bring his marks down too much. I think getting a good 1st report card will help Max’s confidence. But even if the 1st report card isn’t great, I’m encouraged that he has done so well the 2nd half of the grading period.

School Days

So we were lucky enough to get Max into a new school. He did well at his old school, but the old school had it’s share of problems. There seemed to be a lot of teachers leaving each year. Which is never a good sign, and Rachel and I always felt like communication was lacking a bit and that academically, they weren’t really doing anything extra. They were basically just doing the bare minimum. So there were times when Max seemed bored and disinterested.

We visited the school last winter and we were intrigued by the “International B Continue reading School Days

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.  But 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.

1st Grade

1st grade

Max finishes his 3rd week of 1st grade today. The year started off pretty crazy. Two of the four kindergarten teachers left. Luckily Max was assigned to one of the classes with a teacher who has been at the school for several years.  Apparently one of the teachers decided to leave a few days before classes started, so it was pretty chaotic for the kids that were supposed to be in her class. However our initial impressions of her are not good. She isn’t really good at communicating what is being taught. Each class has a webpage, and checking the other 1st grade pages, there is a lot of detailed information. Lists of words they are learning, a daily schedule of what subjects will be covered, and things of that nature. When we checked Max’s class page, there was none of that. Just a list of the “encore” classes that are scheduled each day (art, music, gym, library and computer lab).


Last night when I was putting Max to bed, he asked me to read a book he got from the school library. It’s a book titled “Hooray for Fly Guy”. Fly Guy is one of Max’s favorite book series. Well a funny thing happened. As I opened the book, Max started reading. In the past he had read a few words on the page, but tonight he read the entire first page. So I pointed to each word on page 2, and he read those too. I turned the page, and he read the next two pages, and the next two. All I did was move my finger from word to word. Before I knew it, he had completed the first chapter (about 10 pages). I was so excited and amazed.

He struggled with a few words. Last year, he would get frustrated and just start guessing the word. Last night he actually sounded out the words. He didn’t get everyone right, but he got most of them right, which very encouraging. And text was a little more varied then some of the other stuff he has read before. He was never able or willing to read a whole chapter on his own.

So maybe this new teacher isn’t so bad. We have back to school night coming up in a few weeks, so we will finally get to meet with her. The first month of school is usually used to assess each student so they know which areas to work on with them. So perhaps she will start doing more regimented work starting in October.

After Max was asleep, I remembered that his book order form for Scholastic was due. I ordered him a few more books around the same reading level. Hopefully with some new reading material, he will be encouraged to read more. After reading him books for the past 6 years, it was nice having him read one back to me.

With fall baseball in full swing, and many nights after school spent outside ride bikes, scooters and playing with his friends, Max is a tired little boy. He used to wake up before 7AM most days. This past week, I had to wake him once at 8AM so he wouldn’t be late for school. The rest of the week he didn’t wake up before 7:45. Max had a baseball game last night and all the kids looked like they were a bit drained and tired. They didn’t have that usual pep in their step. Hopefully sleeping in till after 8AM this weekend is in his plans. He definitely needs it.
Even when he is super tired, he fights it. It’s especially hard now since he knows how to tell time. Before, we could tell him it was bedtime, and he wouldn’t argue. Now if we tell him it’s time for bed, and it’s not exactly 8:30, he squawks hehe. Time to start messing with the clocks in the house :-).

Piggy Bank Project

With last Friday being Earth Day, Max’s class learned about recycling. Maxs’ homework assignment was to make something out of a recycled product. So we painted a gallon bottle of Deer Park water pink, put a small slot on top, added some googly eyes, a button on the bottle cap for a nose, and used some toilet paper rolls to make ears and feet, and voila, we have ourselves a piggy bank!



Epic Fail!

Typically Rachel puts together Max’s lunch for school. With yet another snow day on Monday, she forgot to make a sunbutter and jelly sandwich for Max for school on Tuesday. So on Tuesday morning, I put one together and packed it in Max’s lunchbox. Apparently I didn’t do a very good job. When he got home, Max gave me an ear full. “Daddy it was disgusting. There was too much jelly and it was dripping down my arm”. I guess I’ll have to pay closer attention next time Rachel is making him a sandwich for school. Epic fail for Daddy. 

The World Around Us

One of the reasons I think a lot of kids, and maybe even some adults lose interesting in furthering their education is that the curriculum doesn’t contain material that relates to the real world. It’s been a long time since I was in Kindergarten, and I’m sure a lot has changed. One thing I really like about the things Max is learning about in school this year, is that many of the subjects can be used in the real world.

Max’s attention is kept when he learns something interesting, something he cares about. So I’m glad to see he is learning about things like telling time, counting money, reading a calendar and of course, reading and writing. Kids want to be a part of the world. When they have no sense of what time of day it is, the time of year, how many days till the weekend or a friends birthday party, it’s hard to relate. So I’m glad Max is learning about the days of the week, the months and seasons of the year, and learning how much things costs. Those are all things that we as adults use in our every day life.

We as adults have schedules based on the hours of the day, both at home and at work. We come to expect certain things at specific times of the year, like holidays, the changing weather and family vacations. We schedule our meals around certain hours of the day, we try to go to bed by a certain hour, and we know when to tune in to our favorite TV shows.

Most of the time, when we fear something, it’s because it’s unknown or we aren’t quite sure about how it works of what it means. So imagine what a scary place the world can be to a young child who doesn’t quite understand how time works. Max hates going to bed at night, but we make a point to get him in bed by 8:30 at the latest. It’s been much easier getting him to go to sleep, now that he knows the basics of telling time. Before he knew this, he had a basic idea of when bedtime would happen based on when we ate dinner. But now he can look at the clock, and know that he has exactly three hours before he needs to go to bed.

Of course all this knowledge is a pandoras box. Rachel and I are bombarded with questions now on a daily basis. Why is snow white? If it’s cold and winter here, why are people in Australia swimming and at the beach? When we watch sports on TV, one of the first questions Max asks is, how cold is it there? And what time is it there. Thank goodness I can ask Siri for the time and temperature to help us out hehe. Max gets very freaked out when he sees football players wearing short sleeves in the freezing cold. If Victor Cruz is wearing short sleeves, why do I need to wear a hat and a heavy jacket?

So anyway, I hope this sort of education style continues through Max’s school years. I think kids stay interesting and want to learn more about the world around them. It’s why science always fascinated me. It also makes me realize how much about the world we take for granted and don’t quite understand. Hearing Max’s questions, which come from seeing things through 6 year old eyes, make me learn things so that I can better explain them to him. It’s all quite fascinating.