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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back to School for Greeley Kids

Many years ago a wise woman once stood in my kitchen watching me flail about getting my two sons ready for school and me ready to go take yet another series of final exams for my college courses. The stress gremlins were floating high around every one's head as oatmeal and apples were plopped on the table, son #1 couldn't find his books, and son #2 complained the dog ate his socks.

My school friend, we were each doing the multiple studies-education bachelor's program, smiled, calmly, and helped son #2 find his socks by singing a little song about "Oh where, oh where, have my little socks gone..." while I furiously moved all my books and things from the small apartment kitchen table onto the dresser top hoping to reveal son #1's books. Just as I dropped my mega-enormous chemistry book on my foot and thought I'd be damaged for life, Jenny, my friend, started laughing. She said to my son, "You know. Your Mom has so much to do today she has forgotten how to sing. Shall we sing for her and start her day off right?"

Always willing to charm the socks off of any person with the potential to bake cookies son #2 agreed. Soon to be joined by son #1. The song of course, son #2's favorite, was "the Never Ending Song". They had me smiling in no time.

In the end we all prevailed through the tense moments and got each other all the places we were going for that day. On the way to school I thanked my friend for her help. She kindly reminded me that all mothers set the tone for their children every day, every morning, in every way. She noted that how you woke someone up in the morning set the mood and would carry throughout the day.

I changed my morning tune after that day and that conversation. It isn't easy being a single mom at the best of times. But it makes it a whole lot easier if the mood in the household is based on sunshine rather than cloudy weather. For as many days as possible I'd sing a song to wake my children up. And, amazingly, they never figured out Mom's voice was right up there in quality with a gaggle of geese until they were much older.

In that spirit, considering it is August and beginning the school year time, I thought I'd post the following link from the National Literacy Project on how to help Kindergartners get ready to read. I've been researching teaching assessment methods and stumbled across this site--perfect for a member of my extended family. At this site they have some great tidbits, if you are so inclined and need ways to lower the stress and pressure on parents to perform, for lowering the stress gremlins back to normal levels.

Shining Stars - Kindergarten
Pirate On A Purple Planet

This is my favorite time of day. It's about six in the morning and I'm alone at the kitchen table. It's beautiful outside: warm and breezy. Dan has already started working. We grow apples. I guess you could say we're farmers, even though Dan and I both have full-time jobs as well. He'll prune some trees this morning, until about eight o'clock, then clean up, drive the boys to kindergarten, and go to work.

Chris and Mike will be up any minute. They'll roll out of bed and hit the floor like sacks of potatoes. They will get dressed, and come down for breakfast. Sometimes I have to show them that their socks don't match, or their sweaters are on backwards, but for five-year-old boys, they do okay. Part of doing things on their own comes from living on a farm, part of it comes from watching Dan when he works hard: he grew up in a big family, where you had to take care of yourself!

When they come into the kitchen, the boys pour some cereal and sit down with me. Then we plan our day. I like to start the day by showing them something in the morning newspaper that's interesting or fun, like a new space mission, or the man who grew a 30-pound cucumber. I read part of the story to them and show them a picture, if there is one. I know they like doing this, because the first thing Chris says every day is "What's new, Mom?"

I also get them to wake up their minds a little at every breakfast, pointing to all the food on the table, and they tell me the letter each one starts with: "T, toast; C, cereal; O, orange; J, juice!"

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