Some school accomplishments thus far

I know that today only marks the third day of school, but I have to celebrate the accomplishments thus far.


Well it is pretty simple because this morning as I walked back into the house after doing the crazy morning run around that defines this week and will define much of my life between now and the 15th of October 2013, if Ben is ever out of town I found that the house was awfully quiet. See the alarm clocks for Kyle and Lance should have gone off at 6:00am sharp. I am not saying that they did not. I am simply saying that they should have. They very much could have and the boys turned them off and rolled over instead of getting out of bed and promptly fell back to sleep. This normally would not be a problem as mom (me) would have another alarm going off at about 6:30am and again at 7:00am to keep them on track.

The problem this morning was that mom was not home because at 6:30am I was at the church waiting for Andrew to walk out of the building from Early Morning Seminary so we could promptly pull out of the parking lot and make the mad dash to Klein Oak High School where I would throw him out the door and send him on his way to start his day at school. I would then make the made dash back home to get the other boys out the door for school. Mostly to make sure that everything was moving on schedule for on time departure, namely for Lance and I to get out the door by 7:45am to ride bikes to school.

So as I am walking in the door at 7:10am and there is no movement and no noise, I knew I was in for disappointment already on the 3rd day of school. Already? That did not take long. They aim to please, right? At least they were conscious enough that a couple of loud calls upstairs to them woke them up and helped them stumble out of bed, sleepy headed and all. They quickly sprung into action when I reminded them that their alarm clocks went off over an hour ago.

Things went fine after they got moving.

With all of this, I remembered that I probably needed to sign something for Lance. The elementary kids usually have something that you have to sign – daily. Yay! I grab his green backpack and pull out his green binder to see if I can figure this out. In particular I am looking for his “planner” or “take home” folder. Something of that nature.

I had previously mentioned that Lance had Art class and Music class each on one of the two days he did not have PE class. I just looked at his planner so that I could sign it and I was wrong about that. They wrote down their daily schedule on this week’s planner pages. He has Music class on both of the days he does not have PE and on one of those days he has both Art and Music.

It was upon looking at his planner again that I was reminded of a proud mommy moment from Monday. The school district provides most of the students with planners. It is usually the kids in 2nd grade and up. I do not remember Andrew getting one at the high school level but they have school issued laptops that have planner like software on them so that is probably why. Kyle says that he has not received his planner as of this morning but it should be sometime in the next couple of days according to his teachers. Anyway, this is nice for me as a mom because finding a nice planner for younger kids is hard and they can be expensive. When the district started giving each child one I actually became a very happy person. They actually sell them in the school store for about $5-6. That might seem a bit steep for some but I just remind you to go try and find a comparable planner in the stores and it is actually on the middle to lower end of the pricing scale. 
At any rate they insist that the elementary kids use the planners to write down their daily homework assignments and stuff. There is even a column for them to write down all their spelling words for the week. It is a planner that works for the kids. The planners are modified a little for the age groups. This year, Lance’s planner is a little different than his 2nd grade planner. Needless to say, they are geared toward the children and school use. They encourage the parents to sign or initial them every day. 

When Lance came home on Monday after school he was more than happy to show me his planner. I was impressed by what I saw. Not just by the planner because I had seen these before, but because he put in a little effort to make sure his handwriting was neater than I usually see from him. That was what I noticed and what impressed me. He took care with his handwriting. It might not be perfect (whose is?) but it is legible. That is what makes me a happy momma.

I am not entirely sure what Kyle has done thus far to impress me. His schedule is sort of messed up at school. His Math teacher emailed me Monday night and then called me early Tuesday morning as I was getting ready to walk out the door to take Lance to school. Lance happened to be late to school because of the phone call but it was kind of one of those catch-22 situations. Fortunately, I got him there before they started counting official tardies. It all worked out.

The situation is this – some of the kids that took 7th grade Pre-AP Math are in the 8th grade Pre-Algrebra class this year. There was no real indication that this was an incorrect course for them. However, the teacher says that this is no necessarily the right placement for them. Those kids that took the 7th grade Pre-AP Math class have already done half of the 8th grade Pre-Algebra class as it is a repeat. The problem is that these kids that are in the 8th grade Pre-Algebra class are repeating stuff they have already done for the entire first semester and are likely to be bored out of their minds. They will essentially waste an entire semester learning absolutely nothing new. This is not a problem if you have a child that truly struggled in the 7th grade Pre-AP Math class as it will reinforce the skills they struggled with and maybe did not learn, but for those kids that did learn them and just need to move on it is a complete waste of time and space in a class that could be used for other kids.

She gave me the option based on his various District Test scores, his STAAR test, and his grades to have him moved. She did not know what his grades were for last year but she did have his test scores and she would move him based on those. I went and pulled his report card and my instinct tells me that while his grades show his lazy personality, his STAAR shows his academic readiness. He is an underachieving student that you truly cannot put an accurate measure on by looking at a few numbers on a piece of paper, you have to know him and his personality and how he does things. I know that he gets bored in school and so he just will not do the work. It is not that he does not do his homework, he simply will not turn it in. Sometimes it is that he does not feel like doing the homework so he does not complete it. He is in fact, his father’s son.

At any rate, his currently scheduled Math teacher is pregnant and goes out in about a month on maternity leave and she did not want to leave the adjustment to a long-term substitute. She wanted to make these changes before she left. Ben and I decided that we wanted to have Kyle moved to the 8th grade Algebra I class where he will spend the entire year learning something new.

Evidently Klein ISD has reintroduced the concept of “study hall” into their junior high schools. Kyle was not sure what to think of that. He has this class called “Bulldog” which is essentially “study hall.” Neither Kyle or Andrew knew what “study hall” was but I did because I came from a district where we actually had one. I told him that if he was smart he would actually use that time wisely and get some of his homework done. I asked him which classes he had before that period. Most of his classes before that period are actually electives so he has a limited number of classes to choose from but evidently he has Spanish and something else before “Bulldog” or “study hall.” I strongly emphasized how smart it would be to work on the homework for those two classes because he would not have much time in the afternoons after school when he got off the bus before he would leave again to head to the karate studio for the evening. He kind of looked at me like I was kind of smart. I told him not to waste that time period because it was “free time” they were giving him to get stuff done and he should use it wisely.

Andrew spent the day fixing his schedule yesterday. I am not sure they learned anything useful yesterday. I am very proud of him for working through the various scenarios and finding a solution that works. He still wants to try another solution today if he can. It involves talking to his Spanish teacher from last year, Señora Cue. The idea is to see if he can skip Spanish 3 and take Spanish 4 this year in place of Spanish 4. The problem with this is that he has to have enough fluency to be in the Spanish 4 class. He said that the Spanish 3 class is part of the problem and if he was in the Spanish 4 class it would allow him to take the History of the Americas (junior) class that he needs to take this year instead of the senior level class they currently had to put him in to make the working schedule he has now. So he is working through the less than ideal working schedule to see if there is a better solution that while still not ideal, will give him a more ideal solution. He said that he is about a half semester behind where he should be if he was to be in the Spanish 4 class. That is the concern. He is not a fluent speaker. The good news is that he is more fluent than the Spanish 3 kids in his current class. He was more able to carry on a conversation with the teacher than the other students in the class with him. I am very proud of him to be able to admit to his short comings but I am worried that he might be biting off more than he can chew. He will have to work extra hard to catch up to the other kids if he goes into the Spanish 4 class. The IB kids are supposed to demonstrate fluency in their writing, speaking, and reading ability of the language they take. So yes I am a proud mom, but I am also a worried mom.

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