Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Kindergarten progress

I seriously need to figure out how to be a better Kindergarten parent because the transition from daycare/preschool parent to Kindergarten parent is not going well for me.

Prior to Natalie starting Kindergarten, I was concerned that she might not be "ready" due to her August birthday and some trouble with her "listening ears". In the first few weeks of Kindergarten, Natalie's teacher and I emailed each other several times about Natalie's inattention and not following class rules. Looking back on these exchanges, I can see that the teacher was viewing these emails as communicating what was going on in the classroom vs. asking me to "fix things". Of course I was trying to "fix things".

Natalie is doing great in school as far as "academics" (!!!) go. She was NOT reading when she started Kindergarten -- she knew her letters, the sounds that they make, the difference between lower case/uppercase, could count to 50 -- an "ordinary kid" in my mind. Just two months into Kindergarten, she (and about five of her classmates) has "taken off like a rocket" (her teacher's description) and is reading far above grade level, can do addition and starting to do subtraction from 1st grade workbooks, etc.

But she is NOT doing her "Writing Workshop" well AT ALL. In "Writing Workshop" the students write stories in "composition books". The stories start out with something as basic as a series of three pictures -- the beginning, middle and the end of a story, etc. Then they start by adding words with the best spelling that they can -- "skl" for the word "school", etc. When we met with Natalie's teacher at parent-teacher conference (in early November), DH and I were told that her baseline "assessment" is great (as I'm sure many of the other children in her class are as well) but that she wasn't really participating in Writing Workshop. By the end of November, her classmates had 20 pages completed in their notebooks and Natalie had 3 pages done.

So I stepped up writing activities at home. When we went away for our weekend trip for Thanksgiving, I had Natalie write a "packing list" for our trip. Some of the items she wrote down (3 books, with books spelled correctly) and other items she drew pictures of (3 and then a picture of her in a bathing suit). I had her help me create a shopping list for holiday grocery shopping. For Christmas I bought Natalie some "pretty notebooks" so that she could do more writing.

On Sunday, I asked Natalie to write a story in one of her new notebooks. She was all excited to do that but it turned into an absolute cry-fest. I enlisted DH's help to get her to write a story. She was so VERY upset that she almost started hyperventilating. :-( So I emailed her teacher about it and she offered some suggestions as to how to get her to write more.

So now we are concentrating on writing about the constellations. At school, she is writing about the sun, the moon, and the planets. And I'm trying to do better about always trying to "fix" things and letting a great teacher do her job.

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