Last year my little boo boo went to Kindergarten. He didn’t make the cut-off date for the public school in our neighborhood, as his birthday is October 14th, and the cut-off was October 1st, so we sent him to a Catholic school that was even closer. It was exciting for this little boy who walked quickly, and ate well, and developed on schedule to start school. He’s been going to preschool and was ready to learn more. His Kindergarten teacher had an assistant teacher and just 16 students. Three days per week he came home with homework. He had to practice writing letters and numbers, and little by little I noticed he was putting sight words together and started writing little notes and reading started books slowly. The writing had errors, but it was good. Full sentences, and it made me so proud and happy. The reading also went from no reading at all, to reading.
The year ended, and over the summer we moved from NJ to FL. We signed up our son for Kindergarten again, and this time, he would be five, almost six, right along with his peers. Here in FL, the cut off is even a month sooner, on September 1st. We spent the summer having an incredible amount of fun, and doing like a five year old boy should: playing, outside, pool, beach, more outside, football, more playing and more fun.
The year started, and the 100 sight words came home. Math packets came home. Assessment tests came home, and it started to get fun. The teacher has done a really great job by encouraging us to read with our son each night by sending home a reading book tracker. Each night I fill out which book he read, what level of difficulty it was for my son to read, and who read the book with him. My husband and I take turns, and it’s pretty much one of the best parts of my day.
Atreyu doesn’t have homework each day, or most days. Once in a while a math packet comes home, but we finish it in one day, and are homework free for several more weeks. So as soon as he comes home from school I started prepping math problems for him. We started off with single digit additional problems, and now we are up to subtracting 1111 – 897 type of problems. He’s getting stronger and stronger.
The winter break was fun because of the break, but I didn’t want to break again, as we did last summer from doing math and reading. So one time per day, I put up 8 math problems for him, and he would get them done. In the beginning of the year, we started using composition books, and I would write them out and he would answer them. Then I printed out some worksheets off the Internet. But lately, the white board is all we need. He gets to work through the problem, I get to watch him (if I need to), and he gets it done. He also started checking his work using the calculator on my phone.
It’s pretty amazing and fun watching him grow his math skills. The last few days he’s been asking us about multiplication and division, so I think he’s ready to get started. He understands the concept of 5 x 10 = 50, and asked what 10 x 20 is, and when I asked him what 10 x 10 was, and he answered 100, I asked him then what 10 x 20 is and he answered 200.
Some children are absolutely naturally gifted and naturally driven. Then there are those children who need a lot of work in both areas. They need extra work, and they need pushed. I feel my son falls into the category of being able to understand concepts, but he needs pushed. He needs to be challenged, he needs to be asked to do the work, and when the work is put in front of him, he’ll get it done. My job is to put the work in front of him.
There is so much potential in all of our children, and we must believe this. What they are capable of, is pretty darn incredible. They are smart, and smarter than we can probably imagine. But we must challenge them. So many children are left behind because that one-on-one time is missing. I see so much untapped potential in all of us humans – imagine when a little growing child isn’t tasked with what they need to grow.
I can’t wait to do more work with our little guy. I can’t wait until he learns more and is even more excited to do math problems, reading problems, science problems. I want to help him help himself open as many doors as possible. I’m already so proud of the little boy he is, and I’m excited for the young student he’s growing into.
The reading has been just as fun. I went on FB and found a local awesome mom who had two boys that were older than Atreyu. She was giving away the books they were done reading. I drove to her home, and she graciously gave us all of the books they outgrew. We have been reading these books non-stop. My favorite ones are the Curious George books, because they have a fun story that he follows and comprehends, but the words they use are everyday words that he needs to learn how to read. Some of the books labeled Level 1 or 2 books are a bit too wacky for my taste. But the most important part is just to get reading. He started off being able to independently read about 3-5 pages before getting exhausted or frustrated. Now, he’s able to read a whole Curious George book. It’s pretty amazing how this has happened.
The other evening, he was reading a Greedy Bee book in the bed with his papa, and I could tell his enthusiasm for reading was low. He came into the kitchen, I wrapped him up in a blanket and we read the book again. If he wasn’t able to read the page independently, I helped him, and then he read the page again until he got it all right. I could see his confidence grow by getting bigger words correct, and comprehending the sentences. Changing the environment on him helps us both re-focus and get re-started again.
Is my little guy ALWAYS excited to do math and to read? No. But at this point, he knows practicing these skills is expected of him, as is taking a shower, brushing his teeth, saying please & thank you, putting his laundry away, washing his hands, getting dressed, eating with his mouth closed and being a kind boy to his family and friends. It’s just part of the day, and this is one reason I don’t like taking breaks from this. He’s six years old right now, and getting these habits established, so he is always used to doing a bit more math, or homework when homework starts coming home consistently, or reading before bed, become lifelong habits.
If you are already working with your children and doing work with them – that’s pretty super and awesome and amazing. If you want to get started, get started slowly. Slowly, start reading each night before bed. Start asking them to do one math problem before dinner. Offer a reward until no rewards are needed. Just like all mamas, I’m constantly learning how to do better by my children and our family and their present and future. So I’ll always be learning and adjusting and trying to teach them, and allowing them to teach me.
Cheers to lifelong learning and pushing our children and ourselves to always do better! Cheers to feeling stronger by learning more.