Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer begins 2015

We are into our second week of summer and it still seems somewhat surreal. Another school year has come and gone. As I take in the rapid growth of my children, I have decided that I need to stop blinking (insert all other tried and true, "time moves so quickly," cliches here).
In the few years that I have had "elementary school aged" children, I can truthfully say that this year has been the best for my children in regards to the teachers they were blessed to have. One of the things I like about dual immersion is that my children have two teachers interacting with them each day. At parent teacher conference, for instance, I appreciate the feedback and perspective that each of them share.
Henry's two teachers, Mrs. Chen and Mrs. Longfellow make a fantastic learning team. From my view, they compliment one another very well . They share a magical blend of humor, brilliance and a genuine love for children. They made Henry laugh and smile everyday. Being a very sensitive kid, their ability to make him laugh put him at ease. Truth be told, he was heartbroken on his last day of school. That might hurt a Mom's feelings thinking your child prefers school over life at home with you; but I totally get it. It was easy to see, beginning day one, why he adored them both. I'm so thankful for the great reader they helped him become, for the homework I was expected to help him with and the confidence that he gained as a first grader. Homework time rarely feels convenient but I loved that it carved out that one on one time each day.
When Henry was having stomach issues this year, they were understanding. They gave both of us encouragement on days when he wanted to come home while he waited for the pain to subside. They would help him to believe that he was okay and could last the day. One time, Mrs. Longfellow sent me a handwritten note sharing with me details from his day. I appreciated this so much as her note came at a time when I was feeling real concern about his situation. They all knew, even the ladies working in the front office, that Henry had "constipation issues" as he was quite open about it. :)
Henry's popularity at school surprised me. Making friends, so far, has been easy for him. I enjoyed watching him on the playground each morning on the days we walked. As we arrived, I would watch as a swarm of kids would gather around him. Games of tag often began the moment he pulled up. He is both a kind boy and very playful which attracts people to him. I would have never supposed in his earlier years that this would be a strength of his as I suspected him to be very shy and introverted. He definitely didn't have perfect relationships at school. Nobody does. Children can be mean and misunderstandings happen, but for the most part I feel like he has been blessed with good friends.
Eliza's desire to please her teachers and be helpful remains completely intact. Today, in fact, I was begging her to channel that desire to be helpful, into her chores at home! I don't know what I lack, but most of the time she pretends she can't hear my requests. ;) Like Henry, I was so thankful for Mrs. DeMille and Mr. Ma. Having spoken with other parents, I was certain Eliza would click with Mrs. DeMille and I was right. She is so articulate as a teacher and in tune. I loved watching the way she interacted with and captivated her students. It would be her relationship with Mr. Ma, however, that would move me to tears. At our first PTC, both teachers praised Eliza's intelligence, raved over her high test scores and great behavior in class. However, my stomach sank when Mr. Ma, with his imperfect English, pulled out his cell phone and showed me a picture of Eliza reading alone at recess.

"She is lonely." He told me. He was emotional and went on to say how she needs to make "one really good friend." I wanted to cry. I might have actually; now that I think about it. I was aware that Eliza would sometimes read during recess and expressed to her that I wanted her to use that time stretch her legs and be social. I was encouraging the same things that Mr. Ma was. I reassured Mr. Ma that she had a social life outside of school and that a lot of her "friends" were in the other class but that she still saw them at soccer practice, etc. Mrs. DeMille wasn't as concerned about Eliza socially which brought me some comfort. Even so, we all decided to help her as best we could. They would see who she connected with in class and provide them with opportunities to interact. As for me, I would be better at organizing play dates.
It was this year that Eliza entered the world of "mean girls" and for one reason or another decided that she wasn't in the "cool, cute and popular" (her words, not mine) group. Our focus as parents has been more on making sure our kids are kind, find those who are sad and to be accepting. I hope my kids are those things when I'm not there firsthand, but let me just say that I don't want them to be lonely either. Thankfully for Eliza, she made that "one friend" that Mr. Ma had been hoping for. The two of them would stay in during recess together and help their teachers. There was a time this past year when they would go to the library every day after lunch and exchange books as they are both veracious readers. The librarian became another dear friend to her! Another cute friend made their duo a trio and with time, Eliza began to once again branch out to other friends at recess. Sometimes, I think, Eliza's insecurities made her withhold some of her friendliness as she didn't want to feel rejected by other kids. This made me sad. There were other days where she shared with me stories of seeking out the "under dog" and including them. These accounts, if they are true, make me so proud of her.

Academically, I don't worry about her. She loves to learn, is very bright and works really hard. Reading is a big part of her life which I attribute a lot of her success to. I haven't had to assist much in the homework department, other than reminding her that she needs to get it done. Sometimes the hardest part about doing homework was remembering to take it to class when it was due. It would be completed but left behind on the kitchen counter. I liked that I could count on Eliza to get herself ready, lunch included, each day. I would style her hair most days, and again, enjoyed the chat time as I brushed out her hair, etc. And, Eliza if you are reading this, I hope I can keep being your hairstylist for a long time as I love, love, love playing with it.
Lottie completed her first year of preschool. I can't say enough positive things about the Little Red school house. Miss Mary and her team of teachers are creative, fun and darling with the students. Lottie learned a lot and loved having her own school day to share with her older siblings. Having a birthday in October, Lottie misses the deadline for Kindergarten. She is ready for Kindergarten, in my humble opinion, but I am jumping for joy inside that I get an "extra" year with her home at home. Forrest can't verbalize this himself, but I know that he is likewise happy about this! She is my sweet, sassy and adorable dolly. Picking her up from school was always a bright spot in my day as I loved hearing her reports.

Lottie enjoys writing her name (among other words), doing art projects and is very good at counting. I can't take credit for any of these things which kind of makes me feel ashamed but I feel joy knowing that it makes her feel proud. She has enjoyed tap dance and tumbling very much. However, I am nervous as I consider her upcoming performance as Lottie has extreme stage fright. She instantly began to cry when I left her on the stage at her recent preschool program. It broke my heart. Fortunately, Miss Mary knew exactly what to do as she asked another friend to hold Lottie's hand until she settled down. It worked! Brilliant. She enjoyed participating in her program and I loved watching her sing her heart out.
And with that I'll conclude my thoughts on the school year. I am grateful we are growing roots in an area that we love and hope to make the most of the time we get to share together this summer.
Lottie's First day of preschool: here
Henry's first day of first grade, Eliza's first day of third grade: here

The final walk to school... I caught this fun exchange between Henry and Lottie.

And Lottie asked if she could skip again in her pink pajamas. How could I say, No?!


*Jess* said...

What a wonderful school year :) I'm proud of all the kids for their accomplishments and stepping out of their comfort levels.

Andrew Flegal said...

Thank you for capturing this. I look forward to reading it again and again as we get older.

Andrew Flegal said...

Thank you for capturing this. I look forward to reading it again and again as we get older.