Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stop the Presses!

I finally uploaded pictures! Not a lot (I haven't taken many the past few months), but they're all good. The link just goes to the Gaz set, but if you like pictures of clouds and trees, you might want to check out the rest of my photostream.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

School and other things

School's been out for a few weeks now, but I wanted to recap some items from the kindergarten year:
  • Having volunteered a few times both in the classroom and at mealtimes, I can say that Mrs. K. did a hell of a job in light of the kids and their various behavior issues, and that she was a much more fair judge of Gaz's academic and social situation than I was (more on this in a bit).
  • The kids really don't have time enough to eat either breakfast (seven minutes) or lunch (12 minutes). I hope that Mayor Emmanuel's plan to extend the school day gives at least a few minutes more to either meal, preferably lunch.
  • It only took me most of the school year to figure out that most of our after-school meltdowns were on days when I let Gaz play for more than 15 minutes on the playground after school. She needs to run and climb and hang out with her friends, but she also needs a substantial recharge period after the stresses of the day. Now I know to show up with a proteiny snack and get us heading toward home after 10-15 minutes of play. She has many opportunities to play with the neighbor kids, so she's really not being deprived.
  • The final report card? Perfect.
I take back my grumpiness about Mrs. K. Having watched her at work, she constantly displayed more patience and demanded more correct behavior than I had expected. She didn't rule with an iron fist, more like a well-worn leather gauntlet. It was a hard bunch of kids. Some are very poor, and some clearly come from homes where they do not get much attention or affection. One little girl whose backpack I fixed continued to run up and hug me every time she saw me the rest of the school year--the wonders one safety pin will do. Some kids were clearly intelligent but lacked focus or were intelligent but obviously spent a lot of time around mean people. The children weren't mean spirited, even the the one kid who usually looked and behaved like a rabid caveman, but they clearly displayed their upbringing. This makes me all the more conscious of what I am teaching Gaz by my example.

Gaz has been promoted to the gifted class, along with a number of her friends. We are all excited and relieved. Two of the neighbor kids have already gone through this class with this teacher, so we know in advance that she's pretty tough and doesn't have much patience for silliness in the kids. I think this will be good, if difficult at first, for Gaz. She's smart, but easily distracted. With the whip being cracked on everyone, and the less-than-interested-in-learning being removed from the classroom equation, I hope she'll improve her focus and learn to reign in her own goofiness, at least at school.

Right now we're enjoying day camp. It cramps our travel plans, but she's having a great time, making new friends, and she gets to go on a field trip every week and has pool time every day, weather permitting. She keeps calling it school, though, and that's a bit strange to me. But considering that it runs identical hours to actual school, I suppose it makes sense. It's a little culture-shocky, despite its fun, though. At school she's the ethnic minority, but at camp . . . let's just say that there's not one but two Madisons in her age group. Strange that there's not more of the younger neighborhood kids at camp. We do see a number of her school friends after camp lets out, and they usually cavort together on the playground for a while.

And with that, I better post this before I forget again.