Thursday, August 25, 2016

We have first graders!

The first week of school is almost at an end and I feel as if we've already experienced a month. We've gone from a loosey-goosey summer of lazy mornings and lake-filled afternoons to a schedule that we're still trying to work the kinks out of.  Although, lest you think I'm complaining, our school schedule this year is a thousand times easier than our past three years, at least in terms of commuting.

The bus comes at 8:30  and drops at 4:20; pickup and dropoff is literally steps from our front door. That is the easy part for me. And for Lucy who loves the bus.  Kate, who gets car sick easily, is not fairing as well. Combine that with her reluctance for change and difficulty with transitions and it's been a bit of a rocky start.

But I digress. Here they are for the first day on Monday.
Nana, Len and I drove them to school the first day and walked them to their classroom. After that though, it was the bus!

Their backpacks are crammed because it has their lunch, a snack box, a school folder and water bottle. I am hoping they will eventually just be able to carry the lunchbag but considering that they both lost their water bottles on the second day of school, I think the lunch/snacks still need to be all contained in one bag. (The water bottles were found yesterday--Lucy's was in the cafeteria lost-and-found and Kate's was on the schoolbus.)
Traditional school has been quite an adjustment for them. No longer are snacks and water/milk provided in the classroom at all times. There is a designated morning snack time and none in the afternoon which both girls are cranky about. Kate does not like being ruled by time constraints and bells--she tells me daily that she is the last one to finish her work in class and the teachers want her to "hurry up". This makes me sad as one of the great things about Montessori learning is that it recognizes that each child learns at a different pace and with that extra time the child can delve into a deeper understanding of the work. Lucy, too, has said she is "bored" because she already knows most of the Mandarin that is being taught. I suggested that she enjoy this time being ahead because before long, the work will become more advanced and she will long for the days when she knew all the answers!

On the upside of things, they enjoy the new experiences each day brings. They go to music class twice a week and yesterday was art class. Today and tomorrow is library day which Kate is super stoked about as she will finally get her hands on the shelves and shelves of books we saw last week. They also have P.E. everyday which is a tremendous boon to their education. They have recess before school and after lunch where they get to see some of the neighborhood friends who aren't in their classroom. I have found that with all this extra physical activity at school, they don't come home keyed and wired up with a need to burn off extra energy.

Kate has found a lunchroom buddy that she really likes. Both girls told me emphatically that they want to keep bringing their own lunch because "ours is better and you give us more to eat than the cafeteria provides." Although they did say that they really have to focus on eating and not talking because lunch is only 20 minutes long. Lucy said, "the good thing is that we don't have to wait for everyone to be served before we can eat...if we did I'd never finish in time!" (In their Montessori class, part of the grace and courtesy lesson was that you may open your lunch and get it ready but you may not eat until everyone is served.)

Homework made an appearance on the first day which I think surprised us all!

I'm not sure yet what the English side of their homework will be but I got this note from their Chinese teacher on what to expect in terms of Mandarin and math homework:

Homework from Chinese Class 
Dear parents,
Chinese homework and Math homework from Chinese class will come home every Monday. They will always come home in the RED folder and please help your child to put the Chinese homework and Math homework back into the RED folder and bring them back to school the following Monday. 

Your child can finish the homework anytime during the week. I will specify the homework on the weekly newsletter which will be sent back home on Mondays as well. 

Math homework: The big Math workbook your child brings back home next Monday will stay at home all the time. I will let you know which pages to complete for homework for that week. Please help your child to tear the pages off and remind them to put the pages into the Red folder when he/she finishes them. All the worksheets being used in my class are in Chinese while the homework will be in English. Spending some time with your child on the Math homework will be great, since they can learn the Math expressions in English from you while they learn Math in Chinese at school.

Chinese homework: Chinese homework will be mainly reading and writing. 

Reading:  We will start Chinese reading centers soon, so we will have a reading sheet for each lesson to practice at school and bring back home after we are done. I encourage you to guide your child to put these reading sheets for each lesson into a folder for repetitive practice throughout the whole year. The recordings of reading sheet & the text reading for each lesson are on my website, so please guide your child to reinforce the reading sheet and text reading for each lesson at home. Besides, the new vocabularies from each lesson have been created on quizlet. They are under the “quizlet” column on my website. 

Writing: I always try to make Chinese writing to be a fun experience, so I like to have students learn writing in various ways in the classroom. However, I still feel some practice at home every week is necessary. Three vocabulary sheets will be sent home weekly and are usually the key characters from each lesson. 

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. I will always list the homework on the weekly newsletters and the guiding homework checklist. Thanks so much!

I like that they have a week to work on the homework so there isn't  the mad rush to do it every single day. They still need decompression time to play and be kids. Kate's favorite thing to do right now is to lay in the hammock, preferably undisturbed, with a pile of books.

The foot meant, "Please leave me alone."
Lucy's downtime is decidedly more physical in nature. She is practicing off-roading now on her bike.
And that's a wrap on our *almost* first week of first grade!


Elizabeth said...

Thank you for sharing. I have been thinking about the girls all week and wondering how they are doing. How long is their bus ride? I am keen to see if the English teacher gives as much homework. School starts here in BC after Labour Day, we went until the very end of June, and I have a grade one/two with 24 students - our primary max! How many kids are in Kate and Lucy's class?

Elizabeth said...

P.S. What happened with the glitter? I would never do that to parents as I really don't like it myself. It gets everywhere!

Lisa said...

Hi Elizabeth, The ride is not too long so they are fine. There are 44 students divided b/t the two teachers so 22 in each class. The glitter was kept in the bag and under the pillow but some still managed to leak out onto Lucy's bed. grrrr!


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