Crafts · School

How to Preserve your Kids’ School Memories

Now that the school year is about to end (how fast was that!), I always prepare to save and preserve my kids’ school work, pictures, and reports. I might be going a bit overboard, but I have no school memories (maybe a random report card and 2 class photos), and I still lecture my mom about it. Even my yearbooks have been scribbled on. One has stamps on all the kids faces, either a smiley face or a sad face. My picture, at least, got 2 smiley face stamps on it. So I’m happy to be doing this for my kids (I also love pictures and crafts). Hopefully, they will thank me for it one day.

So this is what I do:

1)      Scrapbook:

I use a scrapbook to put in all their pictures (1st day of school, class photo, last day of school .. ), some of their work, and any certificates or notes they got from their teachers. I put the pictures in chronological order from the beginning of the year till the end ( I take lots of pictures, especially at drop off and pick up), making sure to note any significant event they had along with the date.

I use K&Company scrapbook album size 12×12 and so far I love it! The pages are safe in a top loading page protector. It also has screws to unbind the album and add as many more pages as you want. Here are examples of some of my kids’ pages last year.

 

2)      Art work:

I also love to keep my kids artwork. I use ALEX my portfolio. It conveniently has dividers in it which I sue to divide the art work by class years.

 

3)      Picture wall:

I put up my kids class photos on the wall, side by side for each child to see the changes over the years. I also put my son’s picture under my DD’s according to the same class (our school has a two-year kindergarten program).

(And if you’ll ask where am I going to put DD’s grade 3 pic, we will be moving homes after this summer hopefully and have plenty of room till their senior year).

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4)      Report cards:

Each child has their own file to hold their report cards. This is just a normal folder with page protectors in side. This usually stays in my room and I don’t let the kids flip through it.

 

5)      Rest of things:

The rest of the things that I would like to save like books and other papers, I put in a gift box, the largest size I can get. Don’t really know if this method will work the more books they have. Hopefully I can use these gift boxes for a couple of more years.

 

And that’s it! Those are all my kids school memories preserved for me and my kids, easily accessible to them now, and protected for many years to come.

 

Happy end of school year everyone!

Parenting · School

I refuse to Force him to Write between the Lines

I don’t get it.

My son is 5 years old. He is an energetic, inquisitive, happy boy in kindergarten.

Why does he have to write exactly between the lines .. I just don’t get.

Do you remember kindergarten back in the days? A time of making friends and learning how to play, a time full of outdoors adventure and laughter, a time to get acquainted with school and start your education journey on the right foot: with a passion full of wonder and fondness of school.

Yeah, these days, not so much.

Kindergarten open house, I got a huge fat packet full of guidelines, assessment criteria, and a long list of sight words. Turns out, they not only need to recognize those words, they also have to know how to write them. As in spell them, in their weekly dictation.

I looked around, are you sure this is the kindergarten open house? Not grade 1? And why aren’t the other moms as shocked as I am?

Before going on, you have to know something about my son, he is the most amazing boy ever (of course I believe that I am his mom). The first time he was assessed, he got a stomach ache and they called me to pick him up. I quickly figured out there is nothing wrong so I asked, “What’s wrong sweetie? Is your tummy ok now?”

DS: “If I tell you the truth will you send me back?”

Me: “No don’t worry, we are already close to home. What’s wrong, is everything ok?”

DS: “My tummy is ok now, but I wasn’t ok in school.”

Me: “Why? Did you want to go to the toilet and didn’t?”

DS: No. Ms. S. was asking us about all the letters and their sounds and I forgot some and I got so scared then my tummy started to hurt.”

What kind of pressure is my baby under that he has a stomach ache because of being stressed out?!!

Me: “It’s ok baby. You shouldn’t be worried or scared. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s how you learn. Even your mom and dad make mistakes. It’ ok.”

DS: “Only you say that mom. But Ms. S. won’t.”

Me: “Of course she will! Do you want me to ask her tomorrow?”

DS: “Yes please! Can you mom?”

Of course I went home and sent Ms. S. a long email expressing, not very shyly, my honest concerns about their ways and how stressful the environment is. I took my son next day and she explained that it was absolutely ok to make mistakes. He was happy, I wasn’t.

I found myself in a very difficult situation, trying to balance the school’s requirement, with what I felt appropriate for my son. I wanted him to love learning and education. I wanted him to love reading and exploring. I didn’t want him to hate school and didn’t want homework to be a daily battle.

So we practiced phonics playing I spy. We practiced reading CVC words playing the frog in the pond game. And we practiced recognizing sight words by hanging a word on the fridge and making it the ‘passcode’ for opening the fridge. I tried the best I can to make it fun for him.

The day came to attend the parent-teacher conference. They will discuss his performance so far. I was worried and was ready for a heated conversation. Then she said:

“Your boy is very special. He has a sense of maturity that I don’t see in the grade 2 and grade 3 boys. He is very polite, eager to learn, and gets along with everyone. But… “

I didn’t really care what came after the ‘but’. I almost cried there in front of everyone. I did it! I always knew my son was amazing but lets face it, every mom thinks that of their child. Hearing it from his teacher, even when I knew academically he wasn’t on par with his fellow students, gave me the validation that I needed. My hard work and sacrifice has all been worth it. Even through my many mistakes and self doubt, I didn’t fail him and helped mold him into an amazing boy.

“But … he still doesn’t know a lot of the sight words and can’t spell most of them. He also has trouble spelling phonetically and constructing sentences. And he needs lots of work on his handwriting.”

I don’t really care. My boy is everything I hoped and wished him to be, even when I am not around to watch. That, I am so very proud of, and is harder to teach than any sight word or phonic.

Me: “Does he do the work assigned to him in class and listen properly?”

Ms. S.: Yes.

Me: “Do you believe he is doing his best?”

Ms. S.: Yes.

Me: Do you see any improvements since last month?”

Ms. S.: Yes. But the assessment criteria…

Me: I don’t really care what it says. I don’t compare him with what they say he should be doing or even with his classmates. My benchmark is his work the month before and if I see an improvement and feel he is doing his best, I am happy. I think you should do the same.”

The parent teacher conference was in December. He now knows most of his sight words, knows how to spell some, can construct a sentence though still has a bit of trouble spelling phonetically. He can read CVC words easily, except for the e and u sounds he takes his time with.

Yes I am proud of all his work and what he has done so far. I am also proud of what he will do till the end of the year. But I am mostly proud that together, we created a fun learning experience and I am happy to say he loves school, and he and his sister fight over who will do homework with me first.

DS: “Mom, I’m going to grade one next year.”

Me: “Yes you are! That’s so exciting! New playground, new classes, and maybe even new friends. I’m sure you will have so much fun!”

DS: “Can you please ask my grade 1 teacher if its ok to make mistakes, just like you asked Ms. S?”

This boy … his wife will be the luckiest girl in the world!

School

Color by Numbers: Addition

Let’s face it, doing homework and studying can be very boring; especially for a kindergartener. So I try as much as I can to make it fun.

 My DS (Dear Son) is in kindergarten and will take the jump now into addition. Math is one of his strong points so hopefully, he will not have any trouble picking it up.

One thing you have to know about DS is he LOVES everything army. Very violent, I know, but just like I never forced my DD (Dear Daughter) to love Barbie when she didn’t, I won’t force my son to unlove something he most definitely loves.

So anyways, I started by using simple word problems like:

Me: DS let me ask you a question. If you had one gun, and I went to the store now and bought you two more, how many will you have?

DS: Ummm three!

Me: Perfect! Ok another question.

DS: Mom let it be about swords this time.

Me: Ok if you have two swords, and your dad got you three more, how many swords will you have? This is a hard one.

DS: Ummm, FIVE!

Me: AMAZING!! Ok one more question.

DS: Ask about grenades this time mom.

After I felt like he mastered these questions (up to the number five as that’s what they will be doing in class), I wanted him to be comfortable with the + and = signs. I wrote a couple of questions down and I knew quickly I was losing his attention and he was getting bored. Then I remembered when my DD was in kinder, I made her a color by number addition sheet. She loved it!

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Somehow I have a feeling DS won’t be too thrilled to color in a bunch of flowers and a sunny sky. So I am here googling how to draw a tank and trying the best I can to make it look legit.

 Here’s what I got. Do you think it looks like a tank? Hope DS thinks that when he sees it tomorrow.

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 Please feel free to add any other fun addition activities in the comments below. We would love to try new fun ways to learn.

School

Making CVC Reading Fun!

Middlemarch update:

Just reached mid-book and I have to say something: till now I am not impressed.

 Maybe because the story still didn’t really start. There is no real story line yet, even though I read more than 300 pages. She is just introducing more and more people that live in the town of Middlemarch and keeps adding a lot of gentlemen with very long names that my mommy brain can’t keep up with. But I will stick to it and hopefully finish this brick of a book soon.

 

 As if you cant tell by know, I love reading. And my DD loves it too. It was very easy teaching her and she picked it up quickly. My DS, though, struggles a bit. It’s hard for me to get and keep his concentration for a while, especially if he views it as hard and gets a couple of mistakes, he just gives up.

 So I had to be creative. Found a wonderful game online and I knew instantly it will work with my son. Cant take credit for it though. The game is called ‘Race to the Pond’ by the very talented ‘The Measured Mom.’ ( themeasuredmom.com ) As I didn’t have ink in my printer and was desperate, I drew it myself. I started out with the one in the picture above.

 Just CVC words with the ‘a’ sound to make it easy so he doesn’t get frustrated. The rules of the game is when you fall on a word, you read it, and if you read it right you go to the next spot. If you don’t you stay in your place. We used the dice and pieces from Monopoly and played it with DS and DD. He loved it! He loved it even more when he won the first time he played and his sister got angry. Now he always wants to play it. Thank you ‘the measured mom’, your idea is amazing!

 After just the ‘a’ sound was getting easy for him, I made this game. I put both the ‘a’ and ‘o’ sounds in one. I chose these sounds because they are so different from each other, so he doesn’t get confused and frustrated at first. He is getting so good that he took it to school to show it to his teacher and they all played it in class.

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He is so proud. I am so proud.

Next we will add the ‘i’ sound. I also loved that I drew the game out because I can add words with letters that I know he has trouble with.

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He is so excited that he is leveling up in the game.

Here’s to hoping that I can hopefully manage to instill a positive attitude towards reading, homework, and education in my kids.