School Days, School Days, Golden Rule Days!
This is the song I heard repeatedly until my last year of teaching from my Dad! He would either come to my room, the night before school started, call me at Michigan State University the day before college classes began, or tease me again before I met my own class during the first day of school. This song really annoyed me! Now, the tables have turned and I am the parent getting ready to sing! My little baby, Kelsey Anne is beginning Kindergarten and I am freaking out!
Kelsey will be heading to a local Catholic school. My husband and I are both products of elementary Catholic schools (the same one oddly enough) and decided this was the right choice for her. We liked the idea of structure, religion, and half day Kindergarten – just to name a few reasons. In my personal opinion, a full day of school is too much for a five year old, so we felt this was the best option for us. Honestly, I am sick and tired of some people telling me she will fall behind, or not learn as much. NOT TRUE! She will be just fine! The funniest thing I find about the state of Michigan basically shifting to full day Kindergarten is that Michigan is among 36 states offering optional kindergarten education. Twenty-three states, including Michigan, require students to begin school by age 6. I find it absolutely ridiculous that Michigan has cut funding for schools not offering full day, YET it is not mandatory to attend.
Kelsey has had a lot of preparation to begin kindergarten. First, we sent her to a class for an entire year at the Livonia Recreational Center. This class helped enhance her motor and social skills. It also made her aware that others would and could be in charge of her. Next, we sent her to preschool for 2 years. I found preschool very significant in her development. She understood what school was. She participated in direct instruction daily, went to the library and checked out books, and had real relationships develop while dealing with other social aspects in her learning community. Furthermore, I included her while shopping for her back to school items and I allowed her to pick them out. I set aside a day to get her uniform done, a day to pick up her actual supplies, she was allowed to pick out her own school bag, and we patiently shopped for shoes! I made it exciting and enjoyable and made her a part of these huge decisions!
Lastly, our family has went above and beyond working with her daily to prepare her for school! I try and use every moment as a teaching moment, whether we are at the grocery store, driving in the car, or laying in bed chatting about our day at night. Being a former elementary school teacher, helped me to understand the basics and what I felt was important for her learning. At my craziest, busiest moment of the day, I have always taken the time to answer her questions, explain meanings of words, or sound them out with her. My mom and dad create fun and exciting art projects for her weekly when she goes to visit. Honestly, she now cuts with scissors better than I do! Her Aunt Joanie sends her books and has had her participate in Bible school the past few years. She loves receiving the mail too. Her Daddy allows a lot of one on one time with her. She often assists him while he is fixing something or building something. This has taught us she is a visual learner and catches on quickly! Lastly, I try and do something school related daily.
Kelsey knows all her numbers, letters, and most importantly the sounds each make. She can count, spell, and write short sentences. Her last school only focused on capital letters, which I strongly disagreed with, because now I am trying to break her of that bad habit and implementing lower case letters. She completes different activities and books I honestly find in dollar bins everywhere. My husband complains because we have so many of these, but is amazed when he sees what she can do and how these have helped her.
We have less then 2 weeks before the first day of school approaches. I am one of those parents, who is blessed to be a stay at home mommy. I love spending time with her and will miss her while she is away at school. I will miss our late night chats, tiptoeing around the house to not wake up daddy, and shopping sprees during the week. I pray that she doesn’t freak out that first day, as she has the past 2 years at preschool. It wore off, but was a nightmare while it occurred.
We, as parents, understand that school is for learning, but often don’t realize learning starts and should be implemented at home. I have been on both sides of the spectrum and understand the benefits of a teacher and the job, but know the importance of parents, grandparents, and siblings. I can honestly say that parents should experience those teachable moments and remember them. Today, probably my most memorable teachable moment to date, was driving in the car with Kelsey, hearing her reading out loud. “Look Mommy, that teenager is holding a Car Wash sign!” “This note says beans.” Not to mention, going through the grocery store and running to labels or other written material and sounding out the words and reading them! I’m so happy my husband worked as hard as he did to allow me to stay home and wake up with our little girl each morning not worrying about daycare or babysitting. I am grateful that my time, although it flew by too quickly, was spent cuddling, teaching, playing, and entertaining her. That was and still is my job everyday! Now, I’ll be sharing it for a few hours with another woman, her new kindergarten teacher!