Monday, September 28, 2009

Transitioning From Lower Elementary to Upper Elementary

My 8 year-old has moved into 4th grade this year, and that means she's officially in Upper Elementary. Once a child moves into upper elementary the expectations change for the quality of their work. As her teacher, I am expecting neater handwriting, complete sentences with proper punctuation, showing work on math problems, and just an overall display of a greater effort being shown. No more winks and nods at little errors. As a result of my new expectations, she is experiencing meltdowns. I actually remember my oldest experiencing these same meltdowns when she was in regular school. Now that I am the teacher, I have to deal with the meltdowns.

It's a challenge for me, and I am working through it. Here's what I've been going through:

1) Problem: I have to repeat over and over again that I want her to write her header on the top of the page.
Solution: I had her to write a page of headers.
Result: This morning she presented her writing work nice and neatly with the header in the right place.

2) Problem: Daughter claims she doesn't remember how to write out her math problem properly.
Solution: I change the rules for math work. Now she has to write the problem and the answer, plus show her work.
Result: Meltdown at the thought of extra work -- oh well. I'll have to report back the when progress happens.

3) Problem: Asking said daughter to start each sentence with a capital and each paragraph with an indention.
Solution: Rewrites of sentence or paragraph
Result: Meltdown at the thought of extra work and neater work with capitalization and indentions. However it's not yet consistent. Still climbing the mountain.

I think you get the picture now. Anyone want to guess at when we'll get to the point where my upper level elementary student will get to the point where she is presenting work that matches her cognitive ability? Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, September 21, 2009

To Be That Mom

What do I mean by "that mom?" The kind of mom who wraps herself into her kids' activities, grades, achievements, problems, and lives. The kind of mom that has no life outside of that of her kids. She prides herself on being the perfect Scout Mom, Sunday School Teacher, Homeschool Teacher, Soccer Mom, Football Mom, or "blah, blah, blah" mom. Don't get me wrong, I think it's very important to be present and a full participant in our kids' lives. However, it concerns me when moms go overboard. I steer clear of moms who only identify themselves as mom. Why? Because it's ugly! It gets very ugly!

Moms who don't have another identity outside of mom can become territorial, competitive, overbearing, boring, judgmental, and a downright pain to be around. Think about it. As "MOM" we have to make sure mouths are wiped, lessons are learned, personalities are cultivated, chores are done, projects are finished, appointments are made, appointments are kept, meals are nutritious, etc., etc., etc. As "MOM" most of the characteristics mentioned above are important. We have to be a little territorial because we have to protect our children from harm. We have to be able to use our judgement and competitive skills (hopefully only with ourselves) to show children how to present their best selves and best work. Let's face it, we have to be a little conservative in front of the children too, and that may come across as boring. Finally, just because we repeat ourselves fifty million times a day, we must also be a bit overbearing to keep our own sanity.

However, we have to know when to check ourselves. If we don't we will eventually become an overbearing, selfish, competitive mother-in-law or an angry old lady. Checking ourselves means, not showing jealousy and resentment if another child presents better work than your child. Checking ourselves means, not chasing down other moms who come too close to "infringing" upon "your birthday party plans," "your scout dance," "your spelling bee," "your play date day" or "your idea for Valentine's decorations." Checking ourselves means, keeping ourselves looking sexy, alluring, and beautiful even if it is with a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt . Yes! it can be done. Just thrown on some cute earrings, a little lip gloss, and a bracelet (and maybe mascara). Checking ourselves also means, not becoming a part of the "Mom Mafia" who sits at rehearsals, practices, birthday parties, and other events side-eyeing other women while bragging about making chili in the crockpot and complaining about out husband's dirty underwear. If you are going to sit with the Mafia, bring some enlightening conversation, not the same old boring mom fodder.

We've got to remember that being mom is just one of our duties. We are still the same woman we were before nursing, changing, soccer, swimming, homework, cooking, laundry, and play dates. We still need time alone. We still need to do our activities. We still need our personal meditation time. We still need a glass of wine. We still need to make love. We are still women. We are not just moms.

Sooo....the next time we decide to come out of the house unkempt, or the next time we decide to fly off an email or pick up the phone to reprimand another grown woman over some kid business, or the next time we think about verbally attacking someone else's child, we should think about checking ourselves. We should remember that "MOM" is only one aspect of who we are, and we don't need to go around mothering everyone in every situation.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's a Good Life and I am Thankful!

I was a little restless last night. I began to think about our bills, our financial responsibilities, the things we want out of life and our futures. I got scared and became very negative. I laid in bed conjuring up all kinds of worst case scenarios, and thought about how "others" aren't struggling and sacrificing like we are.

Suddenly, I had to stop and just be extremely thankful for our lifestyle. We aren't struggling. We have chosen to live the life we are living today. We lived the two-career, two-income, two-tuition, two-car, two-property lifestyle, and we were falling apart. We weren't seeing each other. We weren't laughing together. We weren't talking with one another, we were passing each other in our own homes. We weren't engaged and fully present in each other's lives. We spent a lot of money, we accumulated a bunch of things, but we rushed about from place to place without stopping to share joy and love.

I look at our lives now, and I am happy. At this very moment I am experiencing some discomfort associated with finances, but I am doing great. I know my children can sleep in a little because they stayed up a little past their bedtime last night. I know my husband is going to wake up and give me a big hug and kiss with a giant "Good Morning" when he rises. I know that I get to decide what my children will be learning. I get to decide how to discipline them. I get to decide how we will honor the Spirit of the Lord. I get to decide what we will eat, and what time we will leave the house. I get to spend time with each family member. I get to receive all the love and appreciation throughout the day. I also get to see and hear the immediate growth in my children. I also get to decide what I will contribute to the Universe.

There are things I can't decide like, when money will come into my home or when the bank is going to change the rules and charge me extra fees. I acknowledge that things like that have made me feel frustrated and helpless at times, but I am not with out help. God knows what we've always wanted our lives to be. God knows what we've wanted to provide for our children, and God knows exactly how to give us all that we want and need.

I am well taken care of, and I am happy for my life. It is exactly what I want it to be. Life is easy and life is effortless.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Week Down

Well the first week is over, and I am very happy with it. I made a schedule, which can be seen on the last post. It details the amount of time the girls should spend on each subject and on which days they should study which subject. I am loving it! I will use it in combination with my black board of assignments. It's a great tool to keep me on track. Thursday was Geography club and piano lessons, so we didn't get much done in terms of work. They spent the morning working on their Geography project, and after presenting it that was about it for schoolwork. We went to the park with other HS families and had a "PE" afternoon. Except that moms sat and talked while the kids ran and played all over the park. I don't feel bad on days like this because the children need their exercise and social time with other kids. Plus, they only occur about once or twice a month.

Although my schedule includes English, Math, Language Arts, Spanish, Social Studies, Spelling, writing, science, sewing, cooking/baking, art, piano, and Latin, we didn't get to tackle everything this week. We missed Latin, and my 4th grader hasn't started spelling yet. Although she came to me and daddy exclaiming that she knows how to spell "hypothesis" and "thousand." Both of those words came as a result of doing her Science and Math work.

I have been a little slow getting her Spelling program together, but I am working on it. I'll have it ready by Monday's lesson. I'll post it here on the right side with the other's if you would like to download it to use for your child. Latin didn't get started because I didn't have flash cards, I have them now. Next week we'll start Latin.

This year I am reading books with both of the girls separately, it doesn't take up too much time and it's special time together. My oldest is reading 8th grade Literature, and the 4th grader is reading something from the Newbery List.

Anyway, that's my update for this week. Oh I forgot to say how impressed with the math book I am using for my 4th grader. It's really great at presenting math in many different ways. It's the 4th grade math by Haughton and Miffin.

Here is a pic of their New Jersey Geography project. They only had a limited amount of time to put it together, so it's not too bad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First day of School

Things have started off lover-ly over here. The girls are on schedule.

They are buzzing along, mostly with review material. They've started to sprawl their books and papers all over the dinner room table,

and there has been only one "stop bothering me" outburst. I had to separate them. The 8 year old likes to talk while she works and the 12 year old likes to daydream while she is supposed to be working.

All in all, the girls seem happy to be working their little brains, and I am happy to be implementing my schedule and plans. Obama comes on to give the children a message about the importance of education shortly, so we'll take a break to watch that!

Hope everyone's year is off to a great start!