Monday, June 1, 2015

What I learned about being a "School Mom"

So very quickly our first year as a family with a child in school full time came and went. I have been so overcome with emotion and feelings from the beginning to the very end of this school year. A real learning journey it has become for our family, really, for me.

Anslee meeting her Teacher, Mrs. Hall and teacher aide Mrs. Jones

Someone told me that your "parent age" is just as is the age of your child. So I just graduated my kindergarten year of parenting, as Anslee graduated her first year. A kindergartener is she is no more, and we are both entering 1st grade now.

First Day of School, August 25, 2015

I wanted to document some of the experiences/thoughts/feelings I have had over the past 9 months. I did not know what to expect, as you could understand, as this was my first school mom rodeo. I learned so much. Anslee learned so much. Overall we had a very bright experience, but here are some of things that learned and that I was surprised by

Every Monday Anslee's school began with an assembly. They would give awards. This was the First Monday award she received on the 2nd week of school.

Fridays were meant for cheerleading uniforms to be worn to school during football season

The classroom is the teachers terf. Not yours.
And this is ok. This is wonderful. Do we not want our children to learn that in life they will be under the authority of many other that of yourself and your spouse. I feel like it is an important life skill to allow for them to learn to follow someone else's rules. They are quite capable of reaching the expectation level of the teacher, principal, lunch lady - and they need to know that they can do that all while coming home and following the rules you have set for them there. This does NOT mean, though, that you can't team up with your child's teacher to have common ground of rules and that you as a parent have a full understanding of what is expected from your child while they are under someone else's watch. I enjoyed open dialogue with Anslee's teacher this year. She was always available to answer my questions and keep me clued in as I needed to be. I encouraged Anslee to keep her teacher's rules each and every day, and I could count on her to reinforce our rules at home, too. Mrs. Hall told me at the beginning of the year that if Anslee is doing great at home with behavior, school work, attitude/motivation, etc. to let her know so that at school she could praise her for that. I was so glad that she wanted to be on my team in that way

Kindergarten Star Students for the 1st Six weeks of School (sorry its fuzzy, it was the best I could do)

Kensington came along for Anslee's class trip to the Brown County Stock Show

I also learned that if she did things different than I did, that was ok. I found that it was important that I respect her and her choices - even if they were different than my own - because at the end of the day, she had my child's  (and every child) best interest at heart.I learned that maybe MY way IS NOT always the BEST way. Maybe, just every now and again (hehe) someone else's way will work just fine. You have to in a way trust the system. Its not a perfect system, but its a system that is always being evaluated and strengthened as time goes on. So we trust it. We trust that we will see growth and gain from believing in the school and its precious, hard working, invaluable teachers. You have to find a comfortable balance between being a true champion for your child (by helping pave the way for great opportunities) without becoming the mom who pushes their child's way to the top for them.
Anslee's class made gingerbread houses for a winter activity. Kensington was thrilled when they let join in!
I got to be the "reindeer" to toss rings onto at the Christmas party!

Their Kindergarten is NOT your kindergarten.

There is nothing more true than this! Kindergarten now is a place where real learning and progress is made. You know what I learned in kindergarten? I learn how the letters of the alphabet. I learned how to tie my shoes. I learned how to play at centers with my friends. We had stories read to us. Now, when they leave kindergarten and enter the first grade they: read (and quite well), know what a noun, an adjective, and verb are and how to identify them in a sentence, they add and subtract double digit numbers. They are evaluated and tested regularly throughout the year. They do all this while they also learn the social side of being at school - playing appropriately with their friends, respecting their neighbor, following a schedule. Here is the thing. They CAN do it. They CAN handle it. They actually really like going to school at this age, so its amazing  to see how when they are motivated what they can really accomplish. So was my generation totally underestimated? Huh. I don't know.

homework time!

Sisters don't let sisters do homework alone!

Anslee's Valentine Mailbox. She was so proud of her hard work!

Be Available. Be involved.
When you are able, get yourself involved in your child's classroom. Be the teacher's extra set of hands on field trips and special party days and celebrations. They sure do appreciate parent involvement, and your child will light up at the sight of you at school. Volunteer some time when you can. This year, I have 3 small children still at home while Anslee is at school but I was still able to make myself available for all the special events and field trips. You don't have to be up there each and every day (trust me, I was not), but I think Anslee's teacher knew she could count on me on the days where extra effort was needed to expose the kids to fun and exciting new things. I served on the PTO (parent/teacher organization) and tried to do my part in helping where I could as well. I look at this as investment in Anslee's education. I feel like if she physically can see me serving at her school she will understand how much I value her learning and growing through her education. I am hopeful that this will eventually turn into HER valuing her education as she grows and begins building her own value system.

Anslee's class after participating in Jump Rope For Heart!

Kindergarten's Got Talent participants! Anslee did a combination of gymnastics skills to music
Easter Egg hunt at the park with all of Kindergarten!

Kinder trip to the Train Museum here in town! They also went bowling this day as well.

Kindergarten Rodeo! They branded a block of wood, learned to lasso, and raced their Hobby Horses!

Mrs. Hall's and Mrs. Jones Kinder grads!
If you are involved, you are more informed. You know more of what is going on. You know how things work, and you can help reinforce classroom rules/values/efforts at home. I was able to help Anslee better with her homework after I talked to the teacher and learned her language and the techniques she used with the kids. I would use the same techniques and word phrases at home when I was supervising her doing her homework. It made things click quicker and stayed more fresh in her mind. Ask how to help your child at home. Also, being up at the school from time to time made for my having a better understanding of what all was going on at the school, even outside of Anslee's classroom. I was able to go to the 3rd grade musical with Anslee, because I knew that was happening! I felt like being involved was just a good thing all around - and I wasn't even up there THAT terribly much. A little involvement goes a LONG way.

Anslee had a great year. She learned and grew and enjoyed every minute of doing so. We are so proud of all the amazing things she and all her classmates accomplished this year. Something that NO ONE told me was that the last day would be harder than the first day was. I got so emotional thinking back on the year and realizing how far she had come. I was sad to leave her teacher, as she became safe place for us. The first day was teary for me, but the last two days were way more weepy on my part! Who would have known? We look forward to a great 1st grade year ahead and we hope that the learning for BOTH of US continues.

obligatory 1st day to graduation day comparison picture

The Bible I will give Anslee the day she graduates High School in 2027. From here on out I will have her teachers through the years write her a note on the inside of it. I hope it will encourage her, and also be a visual reminder of her growth - and how we will always want to continue on growing in the Lord.

We are officially on Summer break and are looking forward to a more relaxed structure and schedule. Lazy days, fun days, and lots memories are ahead for us!

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