It's been back-to-back school events this week, just like last September. Tuesday found us at the annual Pajama Night, with bedtime stories; Bud and I were again readers. Separately. He read Grumpy Cat, Please Mr Panda, A Penguin Story, and We are in a Book (Elephant and Piggy.) Several people told me he did an awesome job reading and doing the voices very enthusiastically; he is always so proud to go read to the "little kids." I dress up as a colonial lady, representing the historic house, and try to read museum- or history-related books, including Homespun Sarah, Ella's Trip to the Museum, A Night at the Museum, and, with a tenuous connection, Extra Yarn. I like reading to the kids, who can never figure out what I'm dressed as!
It was our first time in the new school. Bud and Sis's old school transferred to a new building--a phenomenal new building with lots of light, open spaces, and colorful artwork, including a large "Be Kind" mural. It's a little bittersweet that their old school isn't their school anymore, but we were proud of our town having such a wonderful building. It even has heated floors!
This week was also Open House, which I attended alone while Mama took Bud to kung fu and Sis along with them. Of course, it was the same three teachers as last year, only they have a different one for homeroom now. The Reading/Writing teacher spoke about all the strategies she's teaching them for analyzing and critiquing readings and for creating well-reasoned, persuasive and expository writing--and the interdependence of the two (a Common Core focus)--all while stressing independence and personal responsibility in their homework and organization. She likes to use historical fiction such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond and My Brother Sam is Dead, as well as essays by Peter Jennings, Ken Burns, and the like. She thinks the kids are amazing but wants to be sure to challenge them so they learn, though she worries about the stress they put on themselves. The Math teacher said much the same thing: the kids are bright but put so much pressure on themselves to understand concepts right away--sometimes even after only one example! She did say, however, that they are starting sixth grade math--long division, this week--and that it was the easiest time she's ever had teaching it in her long career (she was a middle-school math teacher before) and she thinks that is because of the Common Core approach to breaking down concepts so that they understand the theory and not just memorize it. (I know people bitch a lot about Common Core, so this was gratifying to hear.) Finally, we met with the Social Studies/Science teacher, who talked about how the units are the same in their class as the other fifth grades, but they either a). can get through material faster or b). go more in-depth with their studies and experiments. They'll be doing the senses--not just hearing, sight, taste, etc--but the brain functions behind the obvious, plus the solar system and other topics, and a trip to the science museum; they alternate these with the Age of Exploration, including the early colonial period and the Revolutionary War (see connection to reading and writing? One is a colonial novel, the other, Revolutionary)--then they come to the historic house! It sounds like it will be a great but busy and challenging year; already, I've seen an increase in the homework and the encouragement of more independence with assignments. I also chatted with some of the specials teachers--the art teacher who is having them do optical illusions for their annual art fundraiser; the PE teacher who just had them do "pacer" tests for endurance and speed; the music teacher who is also in charge of the chorus Sis and Bud are joining; and finally the Spanish teacher, who suggested they watch the Spanish-language Sesame Street for practice.
It's been a long week, mainly because the first three weeks of school were incomplete. This is their first five-day week. And we're all feeling it, even with one more day to go. The weekend will be mostly busy (most of are weekends are, now), but it will still be a nice break from school.