Thursday, May 3, 2012

Parent Teacher Team Work

My son's school principal asked me to write something for their school's newletter to explain how we were able to turn a situation around. My son was failing in kindergarten and was at risk to stay back. I wrote up what we did and sent it in.

She just called me to tell me how touched and near tears she was with what I wrote. She said I'm her favorite author of the day (LOL). She feels a few parents might now be happy with this piece, but wanted me to know that she felt I understood the school dilemma in educating our children daily.

Here's the piece. (I took out staff names and the schools name for obvious reasons)

My son, Jayden, is in Miss P’s kindergarten class. He’s been doing fine all year and has come a long way since the first day of school. In March, Miss Pugh sent a note home letting us know that there was a possibility of Jayden repeating kindergarten next year, but she felt there was plenty of time to catch up. It was mainly a list of high frequency words that he needed to know. He only knew 19 of 30. She was even kind enough to send me the list.

My husband and I quickly came up with a schedule, repeated this to Miss Pugh to make sure our plan was going to help. Once we got the thumbs up from her, we sat our son down and explained it to him using the most upbeat, optimistic attitude, wording and voices we could muster. We wanted him to know why he would be working hard. We were worried. We both work, we have two other kids (one of them is Autistic), how would we fit this in and get him caught up.

Then we realized that we just needed to create a reasonable schedule and stick to it daily. We starting using our smart phones and e-readers (dad has a Blackberry and a Kindle Fire, mom has an iPhone and an iPad). There is a website called Pixel of Ink; they have two genres of books based on age, one for adults and one for kids. The one for kids gives tons of free e-books away that are easily downloaded to many devices using the application for Kindles and the actual Kindles. You can use a regular computer for these, too. Many of the books are free. All the books give the recommended ages for the books. These were great. First time readers, high frequency words, beginning sounds, etc.

We took it a step further. We typed the list that Miss Pugh sent to us in to Word document and saved it as a PDF file. We emailed them to ourselves, opened them on our phones and e-readers and saved them. Now we had his list with us everywhere we went. We went to Five Below, we bought workbooks there for kindergarten level. They are $2 with about 50 worksheets in each. I did a Google search and found tons of free worksheets online to print out. We added 4 pages of these to his homework every night.

Here’s our daily routine:
Wake up at 7am – Breakfast, hygiene, dressed
7:30 am – we read 2 books, he reads one to me and I read one to him. We reviewed his word list. (10 minutes)
5:00 pm - When I get home from work, we sit in the kitchen with no TV or anything to distract us. (NO CELLPHONE!!!). (30 minutes.) While I cook dinner, he does his homework. But we did it together and I made it as fun for him as I could.
6:30 pm - After dinner, we take him outside to play for 1 hour. That’s it.
7:30 pm - After play time, and while he’s in the bathtub, we review the word list. We play with flashcards. We read a story. (10 minutes)
8:00 pm - After bath time, he reads a book to mom with dad’s help. The he reads a book to dad with mom’s help. Then I read him a book that is sweet and relaxing to lull him to sleep. (10 minutes)

This totals about 1 hour of the day. Jayden is definitely worth an hour of my time.

In less than a month, Jayden was completely caught up. Miss P said she could see the results immediately once we began working steadily with him. We had a meeting with Mrs. Y and other staff members to go over the possibility of his repeating the grade. We had the meeting, but now it was only a review of how far he had come. Miss P had tested him that morning. Of the 30 words he needed to know, he now knew 36 words!!!!!!! He did a lot of hard work and it paid off. He’s so proud of himself, he sees what hard work can do.

If a parent thinks it’s not their problem, or they don’t have the time to do this – they are not being honest with themselves or they’re scared. The only things that changed were having Jayden in the kitchen with me while I was cooking and reading to him while he was in the tub. Doubling up with him and getting stuff done for me at the same time. It’s working great. He is also beginning to understand that there is a time to play and a time to work. It’s helping him be a better Jayden.

Miss P and the staff at KE School have a hard job in trying to educate our children. Yes, it’s their job to do that and they get paid to do it too. But these are our babies, not theirs. We owe it to our children to give up a little tv time, texting with a friend or anything else to ensure that they become educated and confident kids that know they have parents that love them enough to do anything and everything for them. Work with the teachers, work with your kids, in the end it only helps our kids be the best they can be. Isn’t that the goal?

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