Sunday, October 14, 2012

b, d and h

We are about 5 weeks into the school year and the girls have successfully adjusted to life as kindergartners.  Drop off is easy in that there are no tears or fears.  They have all made new friends while looking for their preschool friends on the playground.  Backpacks are full of worksheets stamped with stars and smiley faces.  Behavior cards have stayed on green.

I know that I have several readers who have little ones with spina bifida and are probably interested in how Anna is doing with school.


About three weeks ago, Anna Banana Bugaboo fell on pavement as Rich was bringing the girls into school and landed on her forehead.  We keep a first aid kit in the van so Rich attempted to clean her up.  It didn't go so well.  When the teachers came out to gather the walkers, they allowed Rich to bring Anna in to see the school nurse.  She recommended that Anna see a doctor.  The girls' pediatrician was closed due to a religious holiday and the back-up pedi was on a lunch break so they ended up in the ER.

Anna received three stitches on her forehead.  Luckily, the cut was really close to her hairline and it doesn't look like it will leave a visible scar.  She handled it like a champ and wasn't traumatized.

Anna has been in a really good mood lately.  She's a happy little kid, pushing through spina bifida.


The girls attended public preschool where the focus on the alphabet consisted of sounds, uppercase letters and rhyming.  Kindergarten curriculum aims for "most" kids to be reading by the end of the school year.  Our school district is very good with identifying kids who may need extra help and in offering that assistance.  A few weeks after school began, the girls were all tested on how quickly they could name uppercase and lowercase letters, sound out letters and rhyme words.

I received a phone call regarding Anna's testing because, apparently, she had scored just below average in a few areas.  I kicked myself for not having taught the girls lowercase letters over the summer.  They assume that kids entering kindergarten know both upper and lowercase letters and I assumed that they would learn lowercase this year.  Anna is also pulled out of class 2 to 3 times a week for OT and PT, which isn't supposed to interfere with learning time but she has brought home worksheets with a note saying that she didn't have time to finish at school because of OT or PT and that she should finish at home.


I know Anna is smart but we have no idea how the hydrocephalus or her shunt affect her ability to learn.  I notice that she sometimes seems to have trouble getting what's in her mind onto paper.  This may be due in part to the fact that she is left-handed.  Her fine motor skills may also be impacted by the simple fact that she has spina bifida.  Well, spina bifida is anything but simple.

Emily had high scores for rhyming and sounds but didn't know all of the lowercase letters.  Allie managed to score high enough (I don't know her actual scores) that she wasn't identified as needing extra support.  I sat down with the Anna and Emily to go through flash cards and see which letters they didn't know.  Here are the ones that they were confusing:
  • b, d and h
  • a and n
  • p and q
  • u and w (seriously?  They are the same lower and uppercase.)
So the kids will be tested once a month to ensure that no one falls behind.  I'm not a big fan of kids, especially those like Anna, being tested and compared to peers but I do realize that we're lucky to be in a school district that has these resources.  We've been working with the girls at home too.  It seems like my theme as of late is that parenting is not easy.  I can only imagine what life will be like when the girls have real homework.   

The math program for kindergarten does not include addition and subtraction.  That's a first grade skill.  Yet, Anna can figure basic math problems in her head.  She doesn't even need to count on her fingers.  3+3.  5+2.  5-2.  (Yes, she is a child of accountants.)  Allie asked for extra homework the other day so I wrote 5 math problems on a sheet of paper and gave it to her to answer.  She answered 4/5 correctly.  It just goes to show that skills are learned at different rates.  Hey, I didn't learn to read until a few weeks before I entered first grade and I turned out okay.



Maydelin said...

I am a teacher of preschooler and I think that the school put a lot of pressure on the kids and their parent for they learn to read...

when they want and be interesting in read the will do,do not worry about that

Molly said...

Your girls are adorable and they look so happy in these pics!

Jennifer said...

Hats off!! It sounds like the girls are doing well! LOVE the pictures as usual :)

B said...

My girls started kindergarten this fall too and was shocked when one girl tested below average because she said "tuh" instead of "ttt" when asked the second week of school "what sound does the letter T make." They didn't know lower case versus upper case letters either but was happy to see that they learned it in a few minutes of at home study. S, you're doing a great job. Having one child in kindergarten let alone multiples.

Leslie said...

Kids do lots of maturing during kindergarten. My daughter made her letters and numbers backwards, which is pretty normal at that age, for most of the year. My the end of kindergarten, she had it figured out, and so many of them do. I have a feeling your girls will be caught up quickly. It's funny because kindergarten skills today and what first grade skills are when we were in school! It makes me glad I'm done with school.

Alicia Stucky said...

Leslie's right. These days parents are all but obligated to flash card quiz their three-year-olds so that they're prepared for kindergarten in time. I get frustrated sometimes with how extreme early education can be, only to have education become such a joke in so many areas once children hit the upper grades. You and your girls are incredible, though! Seriously, I don't know how you do it. (And can I just say, I'm so sorry she got hurt - but that band-aid could NOT be any cuter!)

Esther said...

here is a perspective from a european person, who now lives in the states and has bilingual/bilcultural children (twin boys, age 4, healthy 36-weekers).
1. american students are pushed too soon and too early. but at the end, high school test scores, compared to world averages, are very very poor. perhaps there is no need for a 2-year old to sing his abc's, is there?
2. my boys are late august babies. somewhat preemie and i can tell that they are preemie. we started them in prek-3 last year on time, they are in jr-kindergarden this year, where they are by far the youngest (most are 4.5-5). my boys, without a doubt, will repeat this class as i do not want them to be the youngest and smallest (physically and emotionally).

we go to a very reputable private school in our area. we did that because we believe in academics and their schedule works great for us (was was STAHM for 4 years, went back to work two months ago).

All the things that you are describing about your girls doing in kindergarden--those are the things that my boys are doing in prek-4 at barely age 4. Are they keeping up? I believe so...for the most part, although they are just starting to write their letters, whereas the 5-year old already do that.

Is it too soon and too early? Yes, I sure think so. It's great that they know all these things but truly, do they need to know about Columbus and how to add 1+3?????

In Europe, in most places, we do not start the ABCs until first grade. And again, I would say that the European system of education, overall, is stronger than in the States.

Just my personal opinion. Don't bash me please, I love this country, but I do not like the educational system because we push kids too soon and then they drop off....

Tina said...

Wow. Sounds like learning the lowercase letters, continuing to learn the phonetic sounds letters make, and learning to read all in one year is quite a bit!

I live in Ontario, and here our children do Kindergarten for 2 years - Junior Kindergarten the year they turn 4, and Senior Kindergarten the year they turn 5. My daughter is now in SK, but starting JK last year she knew pretty much all her uppercase/lowercase letters but we hadn't really touched on the sounds the letters make yet. She was definitely among the more advanced kids in her class which was shocking to me. This year they touch more on phonics and sounding out words, and eventually reading... and to me that sounds like a LOT for one year for a little kid. So I can only imagine how hard it would be for your girls to do it "all" in one year! Do they go full day, every day?

Anonymous said...

Oh my - now I am so nervous about my twins and how they will test - I am surprised at what is expected in Kindergarten now. The girls are so beautiful - their hair is getting so long - love it! I love the braids and styles you did. Your photos are amazing. Can't remember if you have answered this before but do you put your photos in albums or create photo books - (with all your free time I know - ha ha! - or plan to do so?)


Sarah said...

I am a teacher at a private school in Canada. We teach our kids from kindergarten on how to write cursive before printing so they never reverse their letters. It actually works! That being said, it's just practice and rote learning.

You should try to switch Anna to be right handed. With a student so young, it's possible. We actually do it all the time. It helps with the child's lateralization and it just makes life easier for them! We do it quite a bit.

They are all just so adorable!

Just the Tip said...

Curious, Is Anna the only lefty?
P is a lefty so that's why I one else in my family is, H's mom is, though. We will never truly know if she was always going to be left handed because of her stroke affecting her right side but she only writes with her left hand, etc.

Sounds like all things considered, they are ALL doing great!

Anonymous said...

I'm a retired kindergarten teacher, and the letters your girls are having trouble with are the common ones. A lot of children confuse the b,d, and h. U and W are the same upper and lower case, but they sound the same and this confuses kids. I would not be worried about them at this point in the school year. They have only been at school a few weeks. Your girls will be fine! They get attention, are read to, and have experiences beyond the tv! Y'all are doing a great job!!!

Anonymous said...

Is Allie's hair the longest?

Sarah said...

I'm so glad to see that many of you agree that kids seemed to be pushed to learn more at a younger age.

Esther - no bashing. It was interesting to read your opinion of American schools. I actually know nothing of schools in Europe so I can't compare.

Tina - they go 1/2 day, 5 days a week. Full day is offered in our district for a fee but the curriculum is exactly the same. They fill the time with lunch, an extra recess, quiet hour, etc.

Anon - Emily's hair is as long as Allie's. Anna's is a few inches shorter.

Anna is the only lefty. She did switch back and forth for awhile when she was 2-3 but she favored the left. I've read that it can happen with identicals. She does everything with her left hand - eat, play, etc. Sarah - they don't make kids try to switch hands here. Anna's therapists have always worked with using her left hand. That's interesting to hear that it is done.

Lorraine said...

Hi, Just wanted to stop and say I love your blog! I have just added it to my feed. Can't wait to read and catch up on it all.

Thank you for sharing you lives with us.

Stacey L. said...

It's interesting that you wonder if Anna has a hard time getting her ideas out bc she is a lefty. One of my four children is a lefty, and he is the one that has had the most difficulty with school. He's a great student as far as behavior goes, but he takes a long time to complete assignments. He even was assessed last year for things like ADD or Anxiety because he just couldn't get his ideas out. He does have anxiety but is not on any meds, I just take extra time with him on his work. The sad thing is I was concerned about his academics when he was in 1st grade, but no one listened to me until he got into fourth grade.

Anonymous said...

I am a good bit older than you, but I didn't learn to read until I was in first grade. Had to go home the night before kindergarten and learn to spell my name. Learned to read in first grade and have had a book in my hand since. I honestly believe the most important thing in teaching reading is to make sure that the learning process does not make reading a chore. It is so sad when learning to read or being forced to read books you hate destroys the joy of reading.

Eileen Ward said...

I think every kid is different. Is Anna the only leftie? I'm lefthanded as well and actually was put through an extra year of school (in CT in the late 80's) because I couldn't read by the end of kindergarten. Just for the record, I have a bachelor's in history and am a veracious reader now, and despite what my teachers may have thought when I was a kid, my handwriting is actually quite good.