The learning curve

My son got his report card last week and my initial reaction was shock. It wasn’t a horrible report card but it wasn’t what I expected. After a second very close read through, what I mostly felt was dismay with my self and unhappiness with his teacher.
Before my son started first grade I spent a lot of time helping him learn in fun ways. We counted apples at the commissary and looked at the numbers above the aisles. We played Sorry and UNO where he learned colors, numbers and counting. I have read to or with him pretty much every day of his life. He sends letters to his Grandparents. I have tried hard to help him learn reading and math and some writing in the course of everyday living.
Now that he is in school for 7 hours a day I didn’t worry so much about teaching him. We still play games and read books and he picks up bits of geography with our traveling but I didn’t work at including learning so much. I figured 7 hours a day was enough. I figured wrong.
He gets some homework, not everyday, and I have always had him do it on his own. I know his handwriting needs work and that he has a tendency to frequently rush through his homework. I believed he was working on his writing at school and thought the rushing was because he wanted to play.

At the fall parent-teacher conference I remember walking away surprised at my lack of enthusiasm for his teacher.  I had heard lots of good things about this teacher and was happy when I learned that was who my son had got.  I don’t remember the specifics from the conference but I remember feeling unhappy at the end.  I felt like she didn’t  have anything positive to say about my son, even if she didn’t have anything negative to say either.  I decided to not worry about it and figured my annoyance had colored my view.  I was annoyed because I showed up 5 minutes before my appointed time and ended up having to wait more than 20 minutes.  This was because the parent scheduled after me showed up right before I did and the teacher decided I wouldn’t mind waiting.  She was wrong.

The teacher’s communication with home has always been a bit spotty, but it does seem to have gotten worse since the winter break.   I didn’t even know my son had gotten his report card until he told me.  He has also mentioned several times that his teacher has been rather crabby.  I wasn’t worried about anything because my son loves going to school, says math is his favorite subject and still reads every night before bed.  I hadn’t gotten any notes or e-mails from the teacher so I assumed he was doing great.  Big mistake.

His report card has been quite the wake up call for me.   I realize it was quite naive of me to think he was actually going to get most of his education at school.  His school is supposed to be one of the best in Tucson but I do wonder.  I know it is supposed to be a good thing that he has art, music and Spanish but now I worry that it is at the expense of math, reading and writing.

Now every day after school we have a little homework.  He does any school homework first and then we work on writing and spelling.  We started out working on just his handwriting.  I had him write  different colors.  And that was when I realized he couldn’t spell.  The only color he spelled correctly was ‘red’.  I was shocked.  Because he is such a great reader I missed the fact that he wasn’t a very good writer.  And then I realized he never had spelling words  for homework or spelling papers in the work he brought home.  Now he will get a spelling list from me each week with a ‘spelling bee’ or test on Friday.

I’ll do my best to keep it short and fun.  I have been trolling the internet for ideas and printing out worksheets and thinking of different themed spelling lists.  I think the typical sight words would get boring so I will mix in pets, kitchen items, vehicles etc.  We are writing a story together, taking turns writing a sentence each. Once school lets out I will add math to our daily routine.

I am lucky that my son actually loves learning and is eager to learn how to spell.  I feel bad that it took me so many months to realize he wasn’t getting all he needed education wise from school.   There is always something new to learn about being a parent.  Each age, each stage brings new challenges, both for the child and the parent.  Now I have to go hide his vocabulary words for the week around his bedroom!

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