Kid Chronicles – Reading

Many of you know my struggles with getting Munch to read. This soon to be 9 year old tries me when it comes to parenting. Some days he is the most lovable kid in the world. Other days he wants to act like he just got dropped in my house by his alien family and he wants to go home.

One main struggle we have is reading. Munch has to read in both French and in English. He hates it. Sometimes he’s compliant. Other times he is outright dismissive to what he needs to do. It bothers me because I love to read. I read to him when he was in my womb. I read to him when he was young. He knows how to read, but chooses to not do it.

I’ve tried everything. Buying chapter books and baby books. Going to the local library and having him pick out books that he likes. At his last school he always wanted to order from the book fair. No problem. Get what you want.

When they would arrive I would be excited. I would say “Which one do you want to read first?” He would pick a book and then we would lay in my bed and he would read it out loud. Now, he doesn’t want to read it out loud and will tell me that he’s reading it in his head. Okay, no problem. What is the book about?

Crickets.

Ugh! I’m struggling. I read his books before him to make sure that what he’s reading and writing for reports is both accurate and true. But, it’s nerve wracking.

The irony is that when he watches videos on Netflix or Hulu he watches them in closed caption so that he can read the words on the bottom of the screens. When I asked him why? He said “I like it”. Then you can read a book.

Any suggestions on how we can improve his desire to read?

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Parenting 101: Do Your Research

Here’s the deal…

My Munch received a zero on a classwork assignment on 3/4/16. He’s in the second grade at a French Immersion school and he is now taking Reading and English to be prepared for the state’s standardized testing next year. His dad and I both have undergraduate degrees in English and value education immensely.  I am active in his PTSA, assist in classroom parties/events and fund-raise for the school. To say that I love his school would be an understatement. I’ve always found that the school and administration was very supportive and encouraging. From the parents to the staff everyone has always provided sound advice.

I check his grades weekly on our school’s website portal because I don’t ever want to be surprised when I see his progress reports. Plus if there are things he needs help in I need to be able to attack it immediately and help in any way possible. Well on 3/10 I was checking the website and discovered that my son had received a zero on classwork dated 3/4.  I emailed his teacher on 3/10 asking about the assignment and can she please send it home. She immediately responded yes that she would send it home.

Here’s some background:  She said that the assignment he turned was illegible and that what she could read made no sense.  Now, I know that my son doesn’t have the best handwriting in the world, but it is on par with most 7 year old children, but I was a little stunned that he would receive a zero. His first ever zero in the second grade.

Classwork accounts for 35% of his grade in the quarter. A zero was definitely going to bring his grade down in the class. Furthermore, I had inquired about some missing homework assignments that weren’t graded and showing on the website and received the response from the teacher that she had chosen not to grade them. Umm, say what now?

I was upset and immediately responded that if she could give him a zero she could count the homework that he did to not set him at a disadvantage. He did the work. Why would you choose to not give him credit for said work?

No response. Crickets.

I emailed the Principal and copied the teacher regarding my concerns on 3/23 because I still hadn’t received the paperwork that I requested on 3/10. I was upset at this point because I had a meeting with his main teacher on 3/15 (3rd this year) and asked her could she be present and she said she had a conflict. I asked for the paper again and I still hadn’t received it.

You get my frustrations right?  The quarter was ending and I was getting no help from his main teacher so I assumed that the Principal needed to intervene and advise at this point.  Well, here’s the email that I sent to the Principal.

 

Hi Principal,

Please see the below email communication with Ms. V who is my son’s (2nd grade) reading teacher. We’ve been going back and forth regarding grades for quite some time. The last communication I sent on Wednesday of last week has not received a response. I discovered that Munch received a zero for a reading assignment that was done in class (that still has not been received by me). In reviewing the county’s website, Administrative Procedures 5121.1 I understand Reporting and Recording Grades it states that a zero can be given if “a teacher determines that the student did not attempt to meet the basic requirements of the task/assessment, the teacher may assign a zero.”

Which apparently Mrs. O determined that my son didn’t attempt to meet the basic requirements. This is inaccurate since according to Ms. V he did the assignment it just wasn’t legible.  On top of that zero Ms. V indicated that she decided not to count some of the homework that he’s done this quarter. I know homework is only 15% but he did the work and it should be counted.  Since the zero he received in classwork is 35% of his grade and being counted.

I’m trying to determine why that would be the case considering that the Grading Policy states: 

Recording

a. Teachers will maintain a record of each student’s work, progress, and attendance on a daily basis.

b. Teachers will grade and give a score for all student assignments in grades 2-5, when appropriate, including class work, homework, written assignments, projects, and labs. A score of 0 (zero) will be given to students who do not attempt to complete or fail to submit an assignment. On tests and quizzes, the student will receive the grade earned. This does not preclude teachers from giving daily markdowns to give students every opportunity to complete an assignment before giving a zero for the assignment.

What is interesting to note is that in that same Admin Reg it states that “In classes that meet 4-5 times per week, the classroom teacher must record in SchoolMAX a minimum of two grades per week in each subject for each student. If a class meets once a week then only one grade will be recorded.”  This is not happening in all my son’s classes consistently. We can review his School Max account and you can see this.  Furthermore, we don’t receive the paperwork back in a timely fashion which is also a requirement. “Teachers will return graded papers and assignments in order to provide on-going, timely feedback to student and parents.”

Am I only required to check SchoolMax to see if my son is having trouble or are we supposed to receive the graded assignments timely so that we as his parents and our son are on the same page with his struggles?

So, here’s a summation of what the issues are that we would like resolution on:

  • He received a zero and according to the Admin Procedures 5121.1 that should not have happened.
  • No opportunity was given to my son to earn partial credit from redoing the class work or reading it orally since he was present and did the class work.
  • We haven’t seen the class work assignment that he received a zero on.  We want to see the assignment that he go the zero on.
  • We are not receiving graded assignments in a timely fashion to be provided timely feedback on our son’s progress.
  • The homework that he did that is missing from School Max wasn’t counted and according to the policy it should have been. It not being counted will negatively impact my son’s grade since the teacher is trying to count the zero.

We would like this situation rectified before 3rd quarter ends this week. The county has guidelines that I assume all teachers are supposed to follow and we would like to make sure that this policy is being followed when it comes to my son’s teachers to ensure that my son has every opportunity to be successful in the second grade.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing a response to you on the above issues that I’ve outlined. 

Boom!

I had read and researched the County’s policy regarding grading and found the above information to outline to the Principal. I had to let the Principal know that I had researched the policy and I needed some guidance because I didn’t believe that this was fair. I was concerned for my son’s grades, how assignments are not being sent home and no response to my email regarding her not counting his homework.

See my concerns here?

Second Grade: We’re in the Big Leagues

Last week I attended Back to School Night at munch’s school and I realized that second grade is the big leagues. Why? Because that’s when more homework happens. Munch is in a French Immersion school so not only does he have his regular french curriculum this year he is now taking Reading Language and Arts everyday so that they can make sure that he is reading in English so that he can take his standardized testing.

Wow! Lots of work. This is also the year in which he will get “real” letter grades to let us know how he is truly doing. I have to be honest though…I’m kinda scared. Why? Because many people don’t realize that munch is the type of child that you have to explain the big picture and end result too. You have to let him know why you’re doing something or he won’t do it.

Feel my frustration and anxiety yet? I have faith that he will be successful and that it will all go good, but I am anxious. One thing that I’m neurotic about is making sure that his homework is done and that I review what he did in after care. If it is not accurate, I erase and make him do it again. His dad just lets it go sometimes. At least that is what he did last year. So, I called his dad last night and explained that “We have to make sure that we are checking the School Max portal weekly and that we are reviewing his homework for accuracy and recognizing his strengths and/or weaknesses so that we can get him help.” He said, “Okay”. I said, “This is in addition to his regular homework from his teacher that we have to stay on top of it.” “Okay” he replied. I sighed. “Thank you for listening and I will send you a copy of the paperwork I got from the teachers.”

Munch is 7. He will have approximately 6 hours of homework a week. He takes Tae Kwan Do 3 times a week and swimming once a week. I’m wondering if this is too much. I want him to be a success in school, but I want him to find that work-life integration that we adults try to find. Fun and work. I want that integration to start now. I can’t think that he can be successful if I cut out all of his activities, but I don’t want him to feel like he’s overloaded. I choose two activities that are on him. Not a team sport. An individual sport.

Second grade is hard. French is hard. Parenting is hard. However, I am going to be optimistic and claim that he will have a successful second grade year no matter what. I have too because this kid right here….

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Deserves every bit of success.

Ah, the joys of parenting!

Meaning

Sometimes the load gets to heavy to carry. The weight of the world rests on my shoulders and I feel as though no one can see my pain. I struggle to maintain my sanity when my world turns upside down. To be able to distinguish between fact and fiction when I’m looking through the glass and trying to find meaning.

Is it supposed to be hard? Am I supposed to know what to do with my life? How can I get out of this situation I put myself in? When will the pain end? Does anyone see me crying? Why can’t people stop being so dang selfish and offer to just be there?

All those thoughts overwhelm me and the voices start to tell me that no one is there and that it is all on me. I don’t know if it’s true. I’m grasping for something to hold on to because I can’t seem to get my bearing. I need to find solace. I need to find my strength and regain my balance.

Black women are supposed to be strong. We’re not supposed to show the cracks in our armor. We are supposed to heal. A mental health break is for fools they whisper. Pick up your armor and keep fighting the voices yell. I can’t. I’m too tired. I can’t keep fighting. Am I having a mental breakdown?

I need to get a grip. So, I place my weary body in bed and reach for my Ipad. I need to read. To lose my mind in the pages of someone else’s fiction. To stop trying to fix my life when I can’t stop crying. I click on the Kindle app and read and soon I feel my pain ease.

My mind subsides. The voices become a whisper and I find solace in the pages of an author’s pain. The characters become kindred spirits and I see color. Color is calming. It claims my spirit and tells me that this too shall pass.

I like color. I like reading. I like being. Right here. With you. In this fantasy.

Soap and the Scholastic Book Fair

I love Bath and Body Works Soap. Every time that they have a sale, I rush into the store or order on-line because a girl could never have too much soap. I love the smell of the foaming soap and I like the gentleness of the bubbles as I massage the soap in between my fingers. Pure heaven.

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I love books too. I told you that I’m an avid reader. So does munch. The book fair was at Munch’s school the first week in June. Munch handed me his orange sheet with his book picks. He apparently wanted $56.94 worth of books. What? Nope. I will give you $21.00. Make it work. You have books on your shelf you’ve never read.

I set aside the money for munch’s book selections. He was excited. He likes books and he loves the book fair. He couldn’t wait.

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Now, this is where the story gets interesting. Apparently, I’m not the only one who adores the smell and feel of Bath and Body Works soap. Munch does too. A couple of weeks ago, I reached into the linen closet to open a new bottle of foaming soap. I smiled as I pushed the top down and washed my hands.

Later that day I caught munch using the hand soap after I told him to wash his hands after scratching that ringworm on his face. Munch was acting like the soap grows on trees and I don’t catch it on sale because the money fairy brings me more soap when I ask. I said, “Munch, that’s too much soap. Please use a little. It will go a long way.” He replied, “Okay, mommy.”

Fast forward two days later and I catch that little boy playing with a whole lot of bubbles in the bathroom sink and an empty bottle of hand soap. I was mad. “Munch, why are you using all the hand soap?” He starts to cry. “Those tears aren’t going to work” I yell. “Answer me.” He stutters, “I like the bubbles. I like playing in the bubbles.” He really starts to cry now.

I told him, “Look, I told you to not use that much soap so I am going to take your $21.00 for the book fair and use it to buy more soap since you like it so much.” Overboard? Probably, but I was hot. I like my soap and I was down to my last 3 bottles. I could literally go 2 more months with 3.5 bottles. Not with munch though. He started to cry uncontrollably now. “No, book fair?” he questioned. “Nope, I need more soap.”

I sent him to bed that night early still peeved about the soap fiasco. A couple of hours later I was laying in bed when I realized that I was overreacting. It was only soap. Was I really that upset over it? Yes. Could I buy more? Yes. Did I really have to choose between hand soap and books? No. Isn’t that sort of an oppressive form of parenting? Probably.

The next morning when he woke up, I kissed him good morning and apologized for overreacting. I explained that I liked the soap like him, but that it was expensive and we didn’t need to use so much. I told him that I’m still giving him money for the book fair and he can get whatever he wants with his $21.00. He smiled and said, “I’m sorry mommy. I won’t use so much soap.” He leaned in and hugged me tight smiling. “I’m getting new books” he said. And he did.

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Ah, the joys of parenting!

Screaming…I’m Beautiful

I read this incredible post that talked about definitions of beauty. The article entitled “50 Reasons You Are Beautiful” was just what I needed because I was having one of those days were I felt I wasn’t beautiful. You know those days where your hair sucks, you have a breakout and you just can’t seem to get your make-up right? Well, it was driving me nuts!

I hated going to work not feeling or seeming “put together”. So, I sat there fuming and really just getting down on myself. I was having a serious problem with my own self and started feeling ugly. In my meditation moment I reflected on how wonderfully made I am and started to feel a little better, but dang, this fly away piece of hair was annoying the heck out of me.

Enter God. God talks to me in a KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) manner and I love it. He allowed me to read this posting and realize that I am beautiful. Just the way I am. Not based on my looks, but because he created me. I am screaming…I’m Beautiful and let me tell you why.

I Have an Attitude of Gratitude

I am thankful for all the blessings and disappointments that I suffer. I believe in taking the good and bad of life and knowing that I am blessed regardless. No one thing is because I am super smart, super beautiful or super successful. It’s because I have a super attitude of gratitude about who I serve. Gratitude is beautiful.

I Am a Boring Nerd

Yep, I said it. I am a boring nerd. I’ve always tried to shy away from this because I didn’t want folks to know so I would jump up at any chance to go out to a party or to the club instead of just being me. I love to sit at home reading a good book. There are many days that I don’t even turn on my television. I just appreciate the silence and focus on growing and expanding my mind. I love politics and any and all legislation that affects my job, life, or people. But guess what? Being a boring nerd is beautiful.

I Can’t Dance

Nope. I can’t. I can move with a beat, but I’m not as smooth and sophisticated as some other women you may know. I’m not that gracious on a dance floor, but that’s okay. I like to be held. I dance to my own beat and you know what? Not knowing how to dance is beautiful.

My Nose is Weird

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my nose. More hate than love, but you get the picture right? It’s a nose that doesn’t fit in anywhere in my family. It’s awkward and long and kinda round, but it doesn’t seem to go with my face. It just is there. I’m always nosing around trying to find glasses that fit my face or better yet, my nose. But you know what? Weird noses are beautiful.

I Can’t Walk in Heels

I never truly learned to walk and balance in heels so anything beyond 3 inches is asking for trouble. Unless the shoes have thick heels, are platforms, wedges or anything that stabilizes my clumsiness, I can’t do it. I’ve had to make due with cute flats that allow me to maneuver through the day, but I always hated the fact that I wasn’t coordinated enough to master walking in heels. But, you know what? Walking in flats is beautiful.

My Waist Size is in Double Digits

I posted before about how I’m learning to embrace my femininity and accept my double digit figure each day. It’s been a growing experience and I realized that no matter how much I work out, how healthy I eat and how much I want to be small (without surgery of course), I may never get there. Instead of punishing myself for my flabby tummy or the rolls on my side I just smile and blow kisses. I may never get to be a perfect size 8 and you know what? That’s okay. Why? Because the round me is just as beautiful.

There are many more things that make up the whole of me that point to my beauty both inside and out. I’m thankful for all the things I’ve experienced and I love me.  I’m going to print out this list and tape it to my mirror to remind myself of these things every day and know that I’m beautiful, simply because I’m me. And you know what? So are you.

Education Chronicles: First Day of School

It’s that time again and munch is headed to first grade. I’m not as weepy and depressed as I was last year. (I cried for almost a month). I have assimilated into being one of those annoying parents who can’t wait for school to start because I’ve run out of ideas, activities or money for the rest of the summer. I loved his teacher last year and I’m hoping that I will love his new teacher. By all accounts, the parents that have had her said she is compassionate, a great teacher, but really serious and never laughs. Ahem, I will make sure not to break out my comedy routine during our parent/teacher conferences. LOL.

So, I decided to share some “Lessons Learned” for parents who are releasing their children into kindergarten for the first time ever or for those who are enrolling their children in an immersion program.

▪ It’s okay to cry the first day of school AFTER you drop the child off and they can’t see you. Be strong and know that they will be fine. Your reaction is what they will emulate. Play it cool and fist bump them out the door when you drop them at their classroom.

▪ Read all paperwork daily and sign the daily or weekly progress card from the teacher. Teachers don’t just fill out paperwork for their health. They truly want you to know what’s going on with your child and in the classroom. They are only one leg of the education stool.

▪ Buy school supplies. I am adamant about being able to purchase the things that my son needs for school. I hate when teachers have to spend their own money for school supplies or beg the parents to please purchase paper, crayons or pencils. Go to the dollar store. It’s not the cost of the item, just the fact that children should have them. If you can’t afford them, please look in your local newspaper to find out about organizations that do Back-to-School drives. A lot of the bags include school supplies.

▪ Talk to the teacher and get their contact information. Find out what their philosophy is on education and what they expect from both the students and parents.

▪ Attend back to school night and all parent/teacher conferences. Make time to show up and be present in your child’s educational activities.

▪ If they are in an immersion program and you don’t speak the language…Relax! Understand that it is a process and your child will get it. One thing I realized is that the school is teaching munch to read in French and I needed to teach him how to read in English, so this summer we spent time reading books. He’s not completely reading on his own, but he can read a lot of words and sounds out those he doesn’t know. He also asks questions for difficult words.

▪ Reinforce what is learned in class. Math skills, reading, science or PE. Spend time reinforcing the lessons learned.

I think that’s it, but if you think of some other things, please feel free to add them to the comments. Also, check out some of these great first grade photos of my love.

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