Schooling update

DC loves kindergarten.  Most of all DC loves first grade where ze goes for math and reading.  Also, DC must be learning things because ze is sleeping more hours at night, despite having to get up earlier.

The new K teacher is working super hard.  She’s got themed units.  This unit is apples.  DC has been regaling us with all sorts of apple facts.  Ze made an adorable apple book in the shape of an apple in which DC has drawn the inside of the apple and labeled its parts.  We had a long discussion last night on the meaning of the word, “flesh.”  (DC asks, “Do you like to eat flesh?”  I explain how flesh doesn’t just mean the flesh of an apple, but could also mean meat.)

DC’s printing has improved dramatically in just two weeks.  That’s something that nobody wants to work on at home (especially not DC).

We’ve been pleasantly pleased this week at what ze is bringing home from the first grade classes.  Ze had a spelling test (ze already knew how to spell the words, but the reminder of the difference between P and 9 helped before the actual exam).  They’re doing timed addition practices of x2 numbers (so 1+1, 4+4, etc.).  This is great because DC knows a lot of math but again, doesn’t like practicing things that require memorization at home and we don’t force things that are boring at home.  But the lack of memorized addition facts made triple digit addition and subtraction go pretty slowly which made them more boring, so we haven’t done any of that kind of math in ages at home.  I like that ze is learning new stuff at school, especially important stuff that we don’t find fun at home.

The best thing on the timed addition facts is that DC didn’t finish in the minute, and hir reaction to not finishing.  Ze got pretty far in a minute, but there was still a line and a half left.  Ze then drew a line in red, and finished the rest of the page untimed in red.  Then they corrected the ones they did and ze wrote c’s next to the correct ones.  Ze explained all of this very matter-of-factly to us and didn’t complain about not having enough time or being nervous or not finishing or anything.  Ze got as far as ze did and finished the rest after.  The first grade teacher has done a great job in that respect, and we are very pleased.

Initially we were a little worried that DC was just going over for “reading,” which ze is doing at a 3rd grade level, so we weren’t sure that the move was all *that* helpful, but based on what ze is bringing home, ze’s also going for spelling and language arts, for which ze has more knowledge gaps that first grade can fill in.

They’re also using the second grade Saxon math textbook in first grade, which I like because I always felt Saxon math was about a year behind what it should be in terms of topics.  (Of course, I feel that way about University of Chicago math too.)  And the first grade teacher is supplementing with a lot of fun fun pattern matching stuff based on a math workshop she went to last year, which is like beautiful music to me (especially given the drawbacks of Saxon math).  Math *is* about pattern matching.  Mmm, math.

The Spanish teacher does immersion.  Sadly Spanish conflicts with first grade math some days, so the Spanish teacher has been sending home homework for DC (even though there’s technically no homework in K).  The French teacher isn’t as impressive– they watch videos and do coloring.  I wish French conflicted with math instead of Spanish conflicting!

The K teacher has also worked really hard at open-ended exercises that meet the kid where he or she is.  So they write their own sentences and copy words from around the room.  There’s a word-wall where they put new words, and it has everyone’s name.  She’s set up stations that they do each day and many of the stations change with the theme for the unit.

DC is learning a lot and making new friends and we’re very very happy.  We’re very lucky to have this opportunity, a single private school whose primary mission is academics, and which is willing to work with us, in the small town.  Well worth the additional expense over preschool.

WELL worth ignoring the nay-sayers who argue that early entrance to kindergarten is stealing a child’s childhood.  We know that it’s enhancing it, at least this year.

18 Responses to “Schooling update”

1. Practical Parsimony Says:

My daughter did not like learning multiplication tables by rote. She had a social life to maintain. So, her teacher was complaining in the teacher/parent meeting. Lisa did not know facts like 7×8=56. Yet I took them skating, to movies, and let them play outside instead of learning what they should.

However, I started with the facts she did not know. I told her that she had to say 7×8=56 all the way to the skating rink. And, I told her older brother that he would watch her and the two-year-old girl skate if he teased her or interfered or mocked. When she got through skating, before and after her bath, in the morning and when I picked her up after school, I asked what was 7×8. She responded correctly. Eventually, the two-year-old knew all the multiplication facts. Now, it was only pseudolearning, but it still helped her, I feel, to have knowledge in her head, all ready for the day she would need it and understand.

Remembering this when I taught GED in a prison, I had the men learn facts they could not master using the same method. They said this was an easy way to learn the multiplication facts.

No, I was not an inmate.

• bardiac Says:

I know nothing about different grade school maths, but when you say “Saxon math,” I can’t help thinking of Saxons counting conquered cities or something, and doing it with runes or Roman numerals (since the west hadn’t adopted Arabic numerals yet).

• nicoleandmaggie Says:

Nah. Saxon math is really good for average and below average learners. It uses a spiral method (so you keep coming back to the same topics deeper later) and each week’s homework contains review from previous chapters so kids don’t forget. Great for kids who are likely to forget, dull for kids who aren’t. I don’t know when they introduce Roman numerals but it’s later. Also not very exciting to conquer.

• nicoleandmaggie Says:

I taught my little sister multiplication tables that way back when she was in preschool (and I was in elementary).

• Practical Parsimony Says:

I was not even expecting her to remember. The fact that all the children knew these rote sessions ended when we got to the pool, skating rink, tennis court, grocery store, church, etc., helped them to endure. The repitition was really boring to all of us.

When my grandson was 4-years-old, my daughter (Lisa) asked him and told me to listen, “What is 3×7?” I could hear him talking on the other end of the line. He yelled “21.” Then, he apologetically said something else. “I am not old enough to multiply in my head, so I have to add.” She had explained multiplication and showed him the concept by adding, and he flew with it.

2. becca Says:

I LOVE the story about how ze handled the timed test.
Verily, that is a good sign. At least it seems that way to me. I tended to be too anxious about timed tests for math, probably because computing was the only thing I was slow on. Leaving me with the fairly erroneous impression I was “bad at math”.
I wish someone had taught me that way- it seems it will encourage DC to get faster but hasn’t provoked anxiety- seems ideal.

• Practical Parsimony Says:

For many years, I, too, was “bad at math.” However, my adult self finally realized that the 99th percentile all the way across the graph, with a drop to 97th percentile was not a bad thing. I had to be over 21 to say to myself, “that means that is there were 100 people in the room, that only three made higher than I.” LOL. That was comforting to know after feeling so interior for so many years. Then, years later, I took Tests and Measurements and confirmed my own epiphany. The messages we tell ourselves and repeat are so damaging! Having a timed test actually helped me. I cannot imagine how people with test anxiety manage. Then, when I made an 82 on the MAT, I just wanted to die for shame. It took a person in the testing dept at the university to convince me I was not doomed by stupidity. NOW, I have to take the GRE and assume I will not make a high enough score to get into a PhD program. I should have taken the GRE before menopause!

• nicoleandmaggie Says:

“I cannot imagine how people with test anxiety manage.”
I know! I know! Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Specific Anxiety: Test Anxiety. Woooo!

Also: For GRE I recommend the Kaplan practice tests.

3. Foscavista Says:

“The French teacher isn’t as impressive– they watch videos and do coloring. I wish French conflicted with math instead of Spanish conflicting!”

Quel dommage!

4. MutantSupermodel Says:

OK so… I’m kinda pissed right now because once AGAIN you have not been showing up in my WP reader and I don’t GET IT. This means I’m going to have spend time I don’t have moving all of my WP blogs to Google Reader because WP is screwing with my really fried brain and I don’t appreciate it and I can’t stand for it. Ok.

I know it has nothing to do with your child and I’m sorry but this is the first post at the top of your page and it gets my abuse. *huff*

5. ABDMama Says:

Sounds like ze is doing marvelously and that you got some great teachers. Yay! I’ve got to look up all these different math programs before mijo enters school.

6. […] remember how super happy and grateful we were about our schooling this year?  How DC was flourishing, how they’re letting hir work […]

7. […] has flourished this […]