Tag Archive: Kindergarten


**Update** Please see comments where I talk about my experience with this curricula.

Original Post, April 2, 2012:

I’m preparing to teach a Kindergartener. I was completely freaked about it. Teach my kids about molecules? No problem. I’d rather dive headfirst into teaching them Calculus than be responsible for teaching them the foundation on which all their subsequent learning will be based. YIKES!

So like any good completely freaked out nerd, I did research. I bought books and read stuff on the internet and I went to my local homeschool store and talked to the professionals (Have I mentioned that I LOVE that place? The Homeschool Gathering Place is the best. They sell new and used (on consignment) curricula and the people who work there are knowledgable homeschoolers or previous homeschoolers. I LOVE THEM!). *ahem* Through various tips and suggestions, I decided to try out a new spelling curriculum, a new reading curriculum, and a new math curriculum. I’m sticking with the grammar, handwriting, history, and science curricula that I’m already using with the older kids.

Beginning with Reading/Spelling (I’ll talk about the new math curriculum another time)–

While the two are not the same, they are related. As you probably are already aware, reading has been something of a problem with Pynni since Kindergarten and we had to backtrack and start all the way over earlier in the year. It has taken me a while to get passed her aversion to even try to read and get her on to the learning part. I don’t want to unintentionally visit any of those issues on Pieces, so I decided that I needed a more comprehensive solution to teaching reading/spelling than what I’ve been doing with Pynni (and, yes, I’m going to use the new curriculum with her).

All About Spelling

Meet All About Learning Press. They make All About Spelling and All About Reading. Their motto is “programs that teach thoroughly so your child can succeed amazingly”. It is a lightly scripted curriculum, which we’ve had success with so far in our schooling endeavors, and is intended to be used in 15 minute increments in the beginning so that the child does not lose focus or get frustrated. It uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching in order to teach children the way they learn most naturally: using sight, sound, and touch. The program uses memorization and repetition in an engaging way in order to permanently create those pathways in the brain that will help your child be a lifelong reader and an excellent speller.

I decided to use the All About Spelling with Chi. He’s a very advanced reader, but spelling is not one of his strong suits. So I’m starting him at the beginning, and since this curriculum is designed to be taught in whatever size chunks your child needs, Chi will speed through the early stuff while still learning the things he needs to know in the more advanced levels. Chi was insulted when we started the first lesson and it was just flashcards and phonograms, but he didn’t know all the sounds vowels can make and learned something new. Pynni was, also, insulted with the content of the first lessons (she’s doing both reading and spelling) and that made her mulish. We persevered, but the fact that she didn’t know all of the phonograms was hard to take. I told her that Chi missed the same ones she did and that it wasn’t bad to not know something because that gives us new things to learn, and learn them we shall. She perked up at that. Pieces took to the lessons right away and enjoyed himself.

Huh, I guess I started teaching Kindergarten today. Not so scary after all.

Okay, so I mentioned before that the elementary school administration has decided that Pynni needs a PEP (Personalized Education Plan) which sounds great, I know. The point of this PEP is to address deficits in Pynni’s academic performance. In math. In Kindergarten. What she needs to know by now and what she needs to know before the end of school (in 8 weeks if you count this week. (and I do)) is how to count/write/draw to 30 (now) and how to add/subtract using visual aids and manipulatives (by the end of school).

Wait. What? BUT SHE ALREADY CAN COUNT TO 30! SHE CAN WRITE TO 30!

WHAT THE HELL?!?

Now, admittedly, she can’t add or subtract. She doesn’t even really know what those terms mean.

because

THEY INTRODUCED THAT TWO WEEKS AGO! (and last week was spring break. HELLO?!?)

Irritated Face


Kay, sorry. I’m a little angry. I’m a lot disgruntled. I knew this was coming because Pynni’s “not very happy” Teacher warned me it was coming even though she has argued against this necessity. She tells me over and over that she knows Pynni is proficient in these areas; that she is not behind.

Still.

Really?

Angry Face with ! and !!! and !!!1one

Oh yes. The system has failed. What are the statistics for illiteracy in middle school students? I don’t know but I found this when I googled “illiteracy statistics us”. What it says is that 42 million Americans cannot read at all and another 50 million read no better than a 4th or 5th grader and those numbers grow by 2.25 million every year as kids leave the school systems to become part of adult society. Those numbers are scary and I actually have a passion for teaching literacy, but that isn’t the point of this post.

My point is this:

My daughter is not one of those people nor will she be. We work with her on reading and writing and math after school every day. EVERY DAY. I was told in February that she was not going to pass Kindergarten when I knew for a fact she was at or beyond grade level in every subject. Still, I took the IRT’s advice and the PrinciPAL’s suggestions and began doing even more work with her. Then, her teacher came back to the school from her maternity leave (all is well with her baby, yay!) and was appalled at how her class had been handled in her absence.

She set about reassessing all of the kids and found that, at least in Pynni’s case, she had been miss-assessed (is that a term?) and was actually above grade level in reading and writing and at grade level in math. She told me that Pynni would most certainly move on to first grade, and might not have to go to summer school. (I’m still reeling from this. Summer school for rising first graders? Really? That just seems like overkill.) “MIGHT not?” I asked. Ms. S said that the administration felt that she would need the extra tutoring that summer school would provide even though Ms. S was not recommending it.

On Thursday, I found out that Pynni is being recommended for a P.E.P. (personalized education plan) which would be GREAT except that it is reserved for academically troubled students. Ms. S stated that she was against such a thing and that in the end it isn’t bad, but the administration is determined that Pynni is this horribly slow student whose parents are checked out and is in need of all kinds of interventions to keep her from falling behind.

I cannot express in words that don’t make me sound awful and uneducated how angry all of this makes me. I appreciate that they are trying to catch the “at risk” students before they are sent forward through the system without all the necessary tools, but Pynni isn’t one of them.

Conversely, Chi isn’t necessarily “at risk” but he needs all the help he can get. He needs academic and sensory interventions. He most likely needs an aide specifically for him in the classroom and that will increasingly be the case the further through school he gets as he accumulates subjects and teachers. But can I get many of these things without jumping through hoop after hoop after hoop? No.

Then the school tries to “help” Chi prepare for this test they’ve been hanging over his head since the beginning of the year by putting him in this before school “camp” twice a week. It turns out that it was a camp not geared toward kids with Chi’s particular needs or even with needs similar to his. It wasn’t a camp taught by a teacher with any experience either with Chi or with any other Aspies or simply Autistic kids. Said teacher was not briefed on how to handle Chi. Thanks in part to this camp, Chi almost completely regressed into the state he began the year in.

This is not the kind of “help” Chi needs. (Mrs. Eff agreed and we are pulling him out of that camp.)

Chi is smart. Ridiculously so. He astounds me with what he understands and what he knows. The kicker? He doesn’t like to write. Period. He will avoid it at all costs making it hard to judge how much he understands about what he’s reading or measure his writing ability when it comes to grammar or expository writing. He doesn’t like to answer questions. He doesn’t like to be the focus of attention. He would prefer it if you didn’t look at him directly (I mean he does YOU that favor, after all).

It takes a special person to see beyond his issues into the wonderful kid underneath. It takes a special person to recognize the wonder that is Chi’s intellect within all that refusal to write and cooperate and compromise.With this we have been blessed beyond belief, though. Chi’s teacher is truly a miracle in his life. She truly cares about him. She gets him. She is able to see issues and work to help him overcome them without diminishing him. She appreciates that his brain functions differently than most people. She sees that he has understanding beyond what he is physically able to show her.  (I know I gush about her, but even with all of that, you really have no idea just how great she is and how much I appreciate her)

The problem is that we can’t pocket her and cart her around from grade to grade and class to class for the rest of Chi’s schooling and even she is worried about his ability to succeed in the future grades. Not because he isn’t smart enough or because he’s behind, but because not everyone can work with him and see all of his facets through the coating of his Aspergers PDD-NOS and SPD. He’s a kid who could use the extra help.

Is there a way I can transfer the help for Pynni to Chi?

So I think the system is broken. Ninety-two million is a lot of people who leave school either unable to read or are barely functionally literate. Neither of my kids will fall into that category and I will not be allowing them to fall behind in other subjects either, and so I’m wondering, “How often is this extra help misplaced? How many kids, like Pynni, receive extra help they don’t need? And how many who do need the help slip through the system’s safeguards?”

Plenty apparently.

Just an update or two.

**In September of last year, late in the month, I herniated a disk in my back while dealing with the recovery of throwing it out a month or so earlier. I am still struggling with this and dealing with pain. So, on Sunday, I will be heading off to the Radiologist to have an MRI of my lumbar spine. Woop! (/sarcasm) I’m not sure to hope for nothing to be wrong (in which case, wtf is up with the continued pain in my back/hips/legs, etc), or hope the MRI shows something wrong (in which case, does that mean surgery? ICK!). You get the picture. In the end, I want everything to be alright. I want this fixed. I want the pain to end.

 

**I decided mid-March that I needed to go talk to my doctor about this issue I’ve been having with exhaustion, depression, hair-loss, and loss of focus. Then, I hurt my back and spent the next two plus weeks lying down full-time again. Yay. Well, I went Wednesday and she ordered some ridiculous amount of blood drawn for tests which I went in to give them this morning. I’ll let ya know the verdict when it comes. I think it’s my thyroid.

 

**Here I talk about the issue Pynni began having at school.

Here I talk about the meeting I had with the Principal to discuss the above mentioned issues.

So, I had a parent-teacher conference with Pynni’s teacher this morning (after I gave blood to the lab people).

OH, her teacher came back a couple of weeks ago! Did I tell you? No? Well, she did.

Now this woman is one of those delicate, soft spoken gentle flowers who never raises her voice and is blessed with a bottomless reservoir of patience. If she weren’t so pleasant, I might want to punch her.

Anyway, she’s back and she’s angry. She is angry at the way her kids were taught while she was gone. She is angry at the way they were evaluated (piss-poorly, if I get my interpretation of the tightness around her mouth correctly). I’m thinking she must be livid considering that I got angry vibes from her and I get the feeling that she and angry aren’t good friends. According to her: my Pynni is fine. My Pynni is right where she is supposed to be and beyond in some cases because I have been spending an inordinate amount of time making sure Pynni isn’t behind at all.

What I got from this meeting: Pynni will go to first grade. Pynni might be required to go to summer school, but Mrs.S is gonna fight against that. (**grumbles** summer school?)

Did I mention that I’m homeschooling next year?

**My story that was just a short story? Right it’s longer. It’s about 36000 words right now, and I don’t see an end in sight. heh. That makes me happy. And whether it ever ends or not? I’m enjoying the process.