Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School

 Charles and Elisabeth are back in school. Elisabeth started third grade and Charlie first. This is Charlie's first year going to school full time. He's okay with it. He doesn't mind being there so long, though he says his teacher is mean. I know his teacher. Elisabeth had her when she was in first grade. She's not mean. But, she is strict and she gets good results. She is a phenomenal reading teacher. She works with the students every day, regularly uses parent volunteers, and requires a parent signature each night after your child has read the assigned book. Even though I already knew what Charlie was going to say, I still asked Charlie what he meant by, "mean". Here is his response: "She makes us be quiet all the time. We can't talk unless she calls on us. We have to keep our legs under our desk and she won't even let us move our table a tiny bit." I told him that doesn't make her mean, and that it's probably a good thing. So far, he's doing pretty well with her. I hope it continues to go well and that he doesn't become the kid that has to move his desk to the corner like I've seen before. When I volunteered in this class when Elisabeth had the same teacher, I remember walking down the hall, passing noisy classrooms, and then walking into her class and everything was quiet and peaceful. I liked it.

Now that two of the kids are gone most of the day, and I only have the youngest three at home, I feel like a free woman! Okay, not completely, but a little more free, or at least in the mornings/afternoons. I can go grocery shopping during the day without feeling as anxious, the house stays cleaner, I get more cooking/baking done etc. I'm sure that won't be the case for long, but so far, Jane still takes a two hour nap mid day, and Nora is still so young that she takes a couple of long naps each day(and I've scheduled them to take a nap at the same time) and so I get some time to myself and some time with just 4 year old Annabelle.

Both Annabelle and Jane love to help me cook. I do most of my baking/cooking in the morning right after the kids have gone to school and once we've tidied up the kitchen.  Here is Annabelle helping me make some zucchini bread muffins. We'll have these as an after school snack later on that day and share a couple small loaves with the ladies I visit teach.

I do the baking in the morning because Nora is happiest in the morning and will sit in a bouncer if she's not sleeping. And it's just too crazy later on in the day when I'm trying to supervise homework, piano lessons etc. If I have to do some last minute things for dinner then I will, but I try and do early preparations as much as possible. I don't like to use the girls nap time to do chores, if I can possibly help it, because I'd rather read, blog and check and respond to emails during that time. And I help Annabelle with her school stuff for some of nap time each day as well.

I have been asked on several occasions, if I feel like my kids are behind when they start school because I haven't enrolled any of them in preschool. The answer to that is 'no'. My older kids don't get to watch TV or movies or play computer/video games during the week and the only thing I let my younger kids watch during the weekdays is Leap Frog Letter Factory, or sometimes Leap Frog Talking Words. Though Friday I'll let them watch a movie if they'd like. Because that's really they're only media, they choose to watch it several times a week and so far, Elisabeth, Charles and Annabelle have learned their alphabet letters and sounds from watching it so often. 2 year old Jane is getting close. Also, most week days when the youngest two are napping, Annabelle has 'school time' where she goes through workbook pages (I buy them at Costco) and alphabet flashcards. I'm always there to help her if she has any questions. Randomly throughout the day, when we're together, I'll ask Annabelle to do things like, "spell cat" and we'll sound it out together. Or, "Let's see how high you can count" and I'll help her when she struggles. And because she helps me bake, she's learning about measurements. We also read together each day, sometimes just one book, other times, a few. I think because of all this, when my kids go into school they're not only at par with all the kids who attended preschool, but they're ahead of them! They're already reading when they go into kindergarten and they know their shapes and numbers as well. As for the social, they each have four siblings plus we have playdates at least once a week so they're fine there as well.
 Here is Annabelle fixing puzzles. After she finishes school time, she can do other quiet activities while the girls sleep and many times she likes to put together puzzles. They sell these princess puzzles at the dollar store which I think is pretty awesome. Great Easter basket stuffer!

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