ABC - Easy as 123! A Kindergarten Update

Recently, I found this New Year's Resolution Will made one year ago - he was struggling with printing letters and working so hard to write clearly.
Interestingly, his resolution for 2013 was to not "fight my mommy for my medicine" regarding a daily shot he takes.  He is the only one in the family who kept his resolution!  He takes his shot bravely!

I meant to do this last fall but better late than never.
Will is doing great in kindergarten!  Last week, he randomly admitted that he really loves his teacher because she is so hard.
I've observed his class several times from the hallway (gotta love one way windows!) and I adore her too.  She lovingly always has a hand or arm on a student, she laughs and jokes with them, she has high expectations, she is nurturing and gentle and firm and creative.  
We've had one field trip and several fun events so far.
Will's reading really took off last fall - he began independently reading last spring (I may do a favorite kid books post soon) but his reading has really taken off now.  He is reading simple chapter books independently (& sometimes reads ahead of me on more difficult chapter books that I read out loud to him.)  I often find him reading on the couch or in his bed.  He just loves books and his book loving mama is so thankful.  He re-enacts books and gets into character development and takes his favorite books outside to play with neighbors.  
The big challenge for Will last fall involved scissors and cutting circles and cursive.
He can cut straight lines but circles were proving to be an issue.  At one point, we tried using electric sewing scissors but these were fast and sharp and one day he barely nicked a finger.  When I explained my safety concerns to his teacher that we don't have fingers to spare and Will's fingers are primarily tendons making them difficult to repair... yet we want him held to the same high standards and expectations as everyone else.
His teacher spoke to the first grade teachers and together, they determined what mastery for Will would entail and decided that cutting circles isn't necessarily an important life skill but asking for help occasionally is.  It's that kind of willingness to hold Will to high expectations like everyone else - yet meet him where he is and work with what he has that I so appreciate.
The other challenge was cursive.
Will worked so, so hard to get his letters perfect...
then one day in early October, I got this text from his teacher:

As a former teacher, I remember the essays and test answers that amazed/inspired/encouraged/brought laughs and I remember copying them and showing them to friends and family and somewhere, I have many of them in a file in my attic.
To think that my own child's paper caught the attention of his teacher to make copies and show it off!
As a mom, I felt so proud and encouraged!
Will's "amazing work" below:

By January, his cursive had improved to this:

Sometimes I just stand in my kitchen and stare at the work he brings home - such beautiful lettering by my 6 year old!
(not to mention- I wondered as an infant how he would even write and now - look at this!)

At Will's school, each kindergartener gets to be "special kid for a week."  Each day something about the child is celebrated.
Will's special kid week was a few weeks ago.  We made a big poster together featuring pics from his whole life, pictures with his various family members, and pictures of some his favorite places to go and things to do.  It was so fun to remember together.

On Tuesday of his Special Kid Week, he was very surprised at chapel to be honored with a character quality award for showing "contentment." (His parents were relieved that he shows contentment at school!)
His Cookie & Lovie joined R, Ellie, & I at the school to witness Will receiving his award.  It was such a special morning.
Will and his principals:

He also got to take a favorite toy to show his class which he loved.

On Wednesday, he was supposed to bring his favorite book to class.  Like his mama, we can't pick just one favorite!  
He decided his very favorite book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  (We're starting book #4 now in the Chronicles of Narnia.  He is loving this series.)  Since there wasn't a good chapter to summarize the book in a 15 minute class reading, I found an illustrated children's book version and read that to the class.  Will also loves poetry by Shel Silverstein so I took one of those books and the kids laughed and giggled thru several of Shel's classic poems.   
That was a very special day for both of us!
Sadly, Will got the flu the last two days of his special kid week so we moved his last two days to the following week.
On the next week, he took a medal he earned in a race to share with the class.
For the final day of his special kid week, he took his favorite snack (tiger butter) to share and then we had "family day."
Will had been looking forward to family day for months!
He got to sit on the teacher's stool at the front of the class and he first introduced each member of his family to his class. (My favorite was his Mimi- he didn't know her "real name.")

Then, we each shared something we admire about Will or an affirmation of a quality with his class. 
It was such a precious time of each family member sharing about Will, his class listening attentively, and Will's smile growing bigger and bigger.  His Lovie was particularly creative, playing off the "i" in Will's name with about 8 character qualities Will has that start with an "i": innovative, interesting, inquisitive, important and more.
I then surprised Will with a video montage on my ipad of some far away family members (& practically family) that couldn't be here but sent me video clips affirming him.  His Honey & G-Dad sent videos, his friend he skypes with monthly who has limb differences too sent a great video highlighting a quality of Will I had never noticed before, and even his "Aunt Claire & Uncle Ryan" whose wedding he was ring bearer for sent one.  He was surprised & it was fun to "introduce" these important people in Will's life to his teacher and friends.
But then...
each classmate of Will's shared an affirmation of him!
My eyes quickly filled with tears as kids said he "has a good heart," is a "good friend," is a "fast runner at chase," is "handsome!!," "is funny," etc.  
Then his teacher also affirmed qualities she has noticed.  
Finally, the class read a story they had written about Will:
"Our Friend Will
Will is a handsome boy in our class.  He has really cool zankos and loves Skylanders!  Will is fun to play with and we like his curly hair.  He likes to fish, play in the water, and play video games.  We love Will!"

My little boy was practically flying all afternoon!
As was his mommy.  
Such a sweet lesson for kids to hear affirmations publicly from their family, their teachers, and their peers...
and also to learn to give affirmation and encouragement to one another.


Finally, last week, Will's class performed a talent show.  Various school staff members along with another class and lots of parents and grandparents came to watch.  Will's school believes in promoting public speaking skills by giving each child an opportunity to be on stage during the year.  They begin this on a smaller scale with the kindergarteners who perform a talent show in front of a small group instead of the entire school.
It was actually a really fun morning.  I learned a lot (one kid taught chess strategies!), I was amazed (one kid is a math genius and literally blew us away as he rapidly figured complex math equations in his head!) &  I was awed by a graceful ballerina.  I loved learning a new recipe from one little girl who taught a cooking class and heard beautiful piano music.  There was singing and fun dancing and lots of energy.

Will introduced himself (wearing zancos) & then ripped off his zancos and proceeded to run.  He ran and ran and ran and ran and ran.  The plan was he wanted to run and sword fight.  I downloaded "eye of the Tiger" and he planned to run until the words began.  
Well.  That intro was longer than we anticipated!  
Good thing he runs 1/4 mile every day (almost) after school!

Finally he picked up his sword and demonstrated sword fighting.
What the audience didn't know is that in his head he had created this whole imaginary scene involving a village and bad guys and one hero (played by himself, of course).
Nevertheless, it was so fun to watch so many people enjoy seeing Will's confidence, agility, and strength as he ran all over that stage and bravely fought the imaginary bad guys with his sword.

We enjoyed watching his class perform and I was so grateful to be sitting in an audience of parents who were wildly cheering on one another's kids.  I also noticed that it seemed each of the "acts" were child driven - not parent created.  It was fun to watch the kids perform what they perceive as their talents and what they take pride in.

Though we have had some hiccups this year (namely - 8am start time!  Goodness, whose idea was that!?!?  Not good for this family!)  and though Ellie & I miss our boy and can not wait for Spring Break & SUMMER!!, we have been so pleased with his year so far.  Half day kindergarten has been awesome, he has learned so much, grown a lot, and we are grateful.

(PS- gold star if you hung in there for this long post!  Re the post before this on "IP" - thanks for the encouraging emails and comments.  I realized, with your help, that I am a mom (like many of you) and that means I enjoy highlighting my kids!  Thank you for allowing me the honor of sharing their stories with some of you.  I'm glad you guys agreed that it's not "ip" - it's a mommy enjoying watching her kids do life and sometimes being humbly amazed at how they do it.)

3 thoughts:

ywilbur said...

Great update! While cursive already. JK is made for waldorf school, my older boy was always in public but JK needed different and while Waldorf was not my choice, wow what a fit for JK. Can you see I'm self conscious about the school. anyway I'm worried on cursive too but they don't start that until 3rd grade! I was worried about cutting circles in daycare for the snowman project but he slides the paper around and off edge of table with one arm. He can hold scissors with his right but due to his bendy pinky and partial thumb only on that hand it is very weak cutting strength but the let him use plain white paper vs construction paper and it worked out for him. AND, JK is obsessed with his first video game (um, yeah we so are not media free like Waldorf school recommends) any way obsessed with Skylanders (Giants) and has played/re-played entire game 3 times since x-mas. Way to go in talent show!

Liz said...

Wish I had been there for the talent show. Will is awesome!!

christieminich said...

What amazing hand writing!!!!
So proud of him!

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