Reading · School · Teachers

When did you Fall in Love with Reading?

And how?

There’s a point in everyone’s lives when reading stops being homework forced on you, and starts being fun. When you read for the love of reading, or in my case, to impress someone. And that someone is the reason I love reading today.

My fifth grade teacher Mr. David Neudorf.

He was the new teacher in school. It was the first time I ever had a male teacher and I was worried a bit. But i absolutely adored him!

He gave us journals. We had to write anything we wanted over the weekend. He would read it, write a nice reply and give it back. He always wrote something back, and not just put a check or signed.

It was the first time in my school life this far that I felt heard. I was painfully shy as a kid and did not talk at all in class. It is one of my best school memories ever. I remember looking forward to the end of the week to see what Mr. David wrote back.

And from then on .. he was my favorite teacher. I did everything I can to impress him, apart from actually talking.

He loved reading. He told us how reading is so important in our lives. And of course, I did everything he told us to do so I made my mom take me to the bookstore to get some books.

We also had read alouds in class. I forgot most of the books he read but I remember the class would always beg him to read one more chapter.

Then the other day, I took my daughter to the newly opened bookstore in our area and I saw one of the books. I almost cried. It was The Indian in the Cupboard.

And you know what’s the funniest thing? I don’t think Mr. David even knows how much he influenced my life as I rarely talked in his class. I hope he does.

So teachers out there, even if you don’t feel like you connected to a certain student, like you are not making much of a difference because you didn’t get the response you expected, please be sure and believe that you are making such a difference.. even when you don’t know it.

And if anyone happens to know a David Neudorf, who was an international teacher at IKNS, please tell him I thank him with all my heart. ❤

Now i am trying to instill what he taught me in my own kids.

Thank you Mr. David! You have made a difference in this world, especially in mine.

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How did you fall in love with reading? Did you have a “Mr. David” in your life?

Parenting · School

Snowplow Parent: Failing to Prepare Kids for the Real World

It’s been a while since I wrote a parenting post (writer’s block maybe?), but reading a very interesting article in the New York Times made me think, and rethink: Am I preparing my kids for the real world?

The article calls our kids age the “everyone-gets-a-trophy generation” which is absolutely true and frustrating. See it started in kindergarten sports day, there is no winner or loser. You think it’s ok, they are just kids and who wants to deal with 20+ temper tantrums on a day that’s supposed to be fun for the kids?

Then it slowly, without realizing it, started creeping to the older kids. See in our school we have houses with different colors. These four houses compete against each other on sports day and the winning house gets a reward like a pizza party or something. Three years ago it was the blue house (not my kids team), two years ago it was the reds (yay our team!), but last year and this year .. there were no winners. It wasn’t like announced that it’s not a real competition and ‘everyone wins’, but the lack of winners/losers seemed to make everyone happy.
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And it’s not only that. Last week we had the IT fair in our school. There were 15+ teams showing their robots that they created. Some were better than others but at the end, every single team won. Every team was called up on stage and given a certificate and a medal. They had different categories like: most creative, most innovative, best looking robot .. etc. I feel bad for the person who had to come up with 15+ different categories, just so everyone could ‘win’.

I asked one of the judging teachers and she said that they had to do that because of the amount of angry complaints from parents they get each year.

I for one don’t like the everyone wins policy and kind of felt like the school was a pushover for giving into parents complaints .. until I saw for myself first hand how ruthless it can be.

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Just three days after having that conversation with the teacher, my daughter took part in the awaited Battle of the Books. Each year, our librarian chooses a list of 20 books for the grade to read. Five students from each class are chose to compete (this is done by student voting in class). These five students have to read the list of 20 books between themselves, so each student reads four books (you can read more if you like) in almost two months. (My daughter read Pippi Longstocking, Loser, Mostly Ghostly: Have you met my Ghoulfriend?, Holes, and Hatchet).

So anyways, we moms were excited as this is the first year we get to participate (only grades 4 and 5 have it). We created a booklet with questions so they can summarize their books in, took them to Starbucks so they can have book discussions and so on. It was so much fun and in the end, all we wanted is to build a love of reading in our kids.

Fast forward to the morning of the battle, my girl was very nervous. I told her it doesn’t matter if she wins or loses because in my eyes she is already a winner as she did a great job in reading and summarizing all those books. And I’m proud of her for stepping in and helping her friends when they couldn’t finish reading all their books. So as a reward for all her efforts, I am taking her out and buying her a gift, no matter what the outcome of the battle is.

I really really wanted my daughter’s team to win. They hot a couple of questions wrong, and it was nerve wracking but did end up winning in the end. What surprised me was the amount of temper tantrums/crying the other teams had (keep in mind they are 9 – 10 years old). What surprised me even more was the amount of temper tantrums the moms had!

The amount of abuse the organizing teacher got was ridiculous! He put the effort from his personal time (he has twin babies btw so I’m sure he could’ve spent this time in many other ways) to organize the competition, come up with the questions, and host it, all to provide the kids with an enjoyable event and to promote reading. And what did he get in return?! Screaming, angry parents accusing him of cheating, neglect, and being reckless with kids emotions. Looking at all their angry faces I don’t think they realize how ridiculous they look!

So we took out the winning team to dinner and on the way there I had a talk with my daughter about what happened. I asked her to think about what happened and how Mr. S must’ve felt. And I told her if she participates again next year, if her team doesn’t win, I want her to be an example for the rest and congratulate the winning team and lift the spirits of her own team. As for me, I promised to take her out next year to celebrate as long as she finishes her four books and summarizes them, because I reward effort and not just medals.
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So, what are we teaching our kids by bulldozing all obstacles they face? I know it’s hard to see your kids fail, not win, be disappointed, but shouldn’t we teach them how to deal with these emotions? Shouldn’t we model behavior instead of screaming at a teacher? If a child sees his mom doing it, what will stop them from doing it and disrespecting their teachers in the future?

I’m sure these parents don’t mean to do wrong towards their kids and their parenting. On the contrary, they believe by doing this, they are protecting their kids and always ensure they have a leg up on anything they want to accomplish. But by doing that, they rob their kids of experiencing failure.

The NY Times article points out that failure teaches kids to “solve problems, take risks, and overcome frustration.” These are “crucial life skills” that kids need to build up in order to face the real world. The article goes on to list examples of students who got accepted to top universities like Stanford but dropped out after the first semester because they didn’t have the tools to cope by themselves.

My oldest is just 10 years old and I still feel new to all this and trying my best to figure it all out. I’m sure I made a million mistakes on the way that I really hope doesn’t mess my kids up forever. But I am happy, after reading this article, that I didn’t send my daughter’s math book to school when she forgot it at home after doing her improper fractions homework. I told her a million times she is responsible for her books and schoolbag. Now she will always remember to put her homework back in her bag and I’m glad I didn’t bail her out (even though I thought about it). This might seem like a small thing but hopefully, it’s a correct mindset and heading towards the right direction in a world where everyone-gets-a-trophy.

I am writing this post after just coming back from my niece and nephew’s birthday party. My daughter won the book “Oh the Places you’ll Go!” What a fitting book to end my discussion with her, and to end my post too.

So will conclude this with the wittier of the cleverest.. Dr. Suess:

Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best                                                                   Wherever you go, you will top all the rest                                                                            Except when you don’t                                                                                                          Because, sometimes, you won’t                                                                                                      I’m sorry to say so                                                                                                                            but, sadly, it’s true                                                                                                                           that Bang-ups                                                                                                                                    and Hang-ups                                                                                                                                    can happen to you …

But on you will go                                                                                                                      though the weather be foul                                                                                                             On you will go                                                                                                                             though your enemies prowl …

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

Here’s to hoping all our kids will move their awaiting mountain, and we just be proud parents with as little meddling as possible.

Because just as we should be proud of our achievements, they should be proud of theirs too!

School

Our School System has to Change!

Amazing video that all must see.

Whats going on in schools is crazy!

I have two kids in school, with two different temperaments and two different abilities. They are expected to take the same exams at a certain age and get it right .. or what? They are .. inadequate? Special needs? Or just unworthy?

Everyone reaches goals and milestones at different times, when they are ready. That’s why we don’t expect all babies to flip by 4 months and walk by 1 year.

People don’t say things like: “he didn’t achieve the required ability” if a kid doesn’t walk by 1 year. Then why do it to an 8 or 10 year old?

Hope the world wakes up and creates “a world where fish are no longer required to climb trees.”

Till then, i will always tell my kids they are good enough, no matter what their scores on a test says.

Parenting · Pregnancy

Summer is Over

Hallelujah!

Some of the moms in our mommy group actually don’t want summer to be over (gasp!) They complain about school drop offs and homework and afterschool activities .. Ohhh not me!

I couldn’t wait till the summer was done … I mean I love spending time with my kids and everything but being their main source of entertainment 24/7 was exhausting…

And that’s another main theme of this summer in particular: exhaustion!

What did I do you might ask?

I did not write one blog post all summer (hi .. miss me?) .. I didn’t read one sentence of any book let alone finish a page. I didn’t even go out on dinner dates with my husband because I was exhausted all the time!

I did though successfully entertain my kids (most of the time) .. stopped them from killing each other (they fight about every single thing) .. took them to swimming lessons (they can both dive in the deep now .. yay!) .. went to morning summer camp, rock climbing, indoor sky diving, a staycation, and so many other things I hope they cherish forever.

But again I was always tired .. all the time. Not normal tired, like hit by a bus tired. So I decided to do a blood test .. maybe my iron levels are low.

Results are in: congratulations! Your iron level is very good .. oh and your pregnant!

Wait .. what?!

How can I be pregnant? I am breastfeeding and I am on the mini pill. I didn’t skip a day and try to take it everyday at the same time. I didn’t even get my period since I gave birth.. how can I be pregnant?

Went to my gyno, she was laughing at how chocked I was. Apparently I was on antibiotics before summer starts and that makes the pill less effective.. especially if it’s the mini pill.

Wait .. come again? I was on antibiotics before summer started.

Yup, you guessed it. I was already 12 weeks pregnant. How can I not know!! It’s not like this is my first. I should’ve known. And I was taking the mini pill the entire time during my baby’s first trimester.. not folic acid, not multivitamins .. the mini pill.

I feel like the worst mom ever! Hope it doesn’t affect my baby. Now I have to wrap my head around having a newborn soon, while my one year old is still sleeping in my bed.

 

Wish me luck .. this is going to be a long year!

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!