A few more pictures to start out our school year. (Hallie and I just sat down tonight and looked through all the old first day of school pictures and they are such a fun way to catalog time and personality!)
My elementary kids ride the bus to school, but every year on the first day of school, I take the kids so I can snag pictures with their friends.
And just because Hunter was going into 8th grade did not mean I was going to miss out on his picture before the bus came. One of the other mom’s saw me taking pictures and sent me a text asking if I could share it with her. Evidently her child wasn’t wanting her to walk out with him or come take any pictures. Hunter knows better than to make such a silly request! Lucky for me, Hunter actually enjoys taking pictures.
The summers seem to get shorter and shorter every year. But here we are once again, the first week in August starting school. As if the universe was apologizing to us for having to start so early, we had a beautiful thunderstorm roll through last night which dropped our temperatures lower than Steve and I can ever remember on the first day of school for our kids.
As we skipped away from the school this morning it was a balmy 78 degrees. The best weather ever. Don’t worry, by the time they got home from school it was 100. But at least we weren’t dripping buckets of sweat when he dropped them off this morning. (we’re usually melting!)
Briggs was a chatty Cathy when he got home from school and he was so happy and excited about everything. First grade is awesome.
Cannon is hitting the age where he hears everyone say they hate school and he wants to agree, but in his heart, he still loves it. He loves recess and the fact that his best friend is in his class again. He realized today, he’s a little rusty on his Spanish.
Bennett is living his best life as the oldest kids in the school. He has a large group of friends that play soccer every recess and he was disappointed to learn they’ve removed their morning recess to better prepare them for junior high next year. He was not amused. He actually has the same teachers as last year since they both moved up with his class and he already knows he loves them. Although, one of them is really “strict” in his opinion which judging from the group of kids she has, she should be!
Hunter is also the old man on campus (although they only have two grades at his school). Like Cannon, I think Hunter knows his friends don’t enjoy school, but he does and he excels at it and he just owns it! He’s excited about his honors high school geometry class he’s taking and so far he likes all his teachers.
I was surprisingly most nervous to hear about Hallie’s first day of school because high school can be brutal sometimes! Her school only allows juniors and seniors to drive to school which she is excited about this year, however, they only let seniors leave for lunch which is a major disappointment. Her school is really large so every semester she’s just hoping she knows at least one person in each of her classes and there were some disappointments today. But she came home with a positive report on the day and then turned around and went to a concert tonight for a friend’s birthday as if it’s still summer vacation! I suppose we’re easing into this school thing. 🙂
I’m not sure how we’ve already arrived at the 100th day of school but today is the day. Briggs was collecting 100 legos last night to put in a bag and take to school today. He had some funny ideas before he landed on legos. 100 blades of grass? It may be little tough to do projects with blades of grass. Fine I’ll do legos. 🙂
Hitting the 100 day mark means we are over half way through the school year. We just had parent teacher conferences where I could tell Bennett’s and Cannon’s classes are soaring and Briggs’ class is limping along. My four oldest who attended the same school had such great teachers in kindergarten that I took for granted just how good we had it. Now, I am in the classroom trying to help more than I ever have been and it’s leaving me more frustrated than anything.
But I was reminded last week while talking to a friend that even a classroom that is limping along is better than being forced into remote learning. It’s not as bad as it could be – and the reality is, the previous kindergarten teachers set such a high bar that I’m selfishly wanting that same experience for my youngest and it just isn’t happening. And that’s okay. At least my kids are at school having a very normal school experience this year – not every one can say that. And I’m grateful that it’s the kindergarten class limping and not Bennett’s 5th grade class – much easier to recover from that!
Having had so many kids go through elementary school – we have seen all sorts of different ideas to motivate great class behavior, and most of them revolve around some type of “class store”. Some years they’ve earned money that they can visit the store each week where parents donate items. Some have collected points where they have an auction every once in a while. I have a love/hate relationship with these motivation systems. I love that it motivates, but then having to constantly donate to the class store little trinkets that I throw away once my kid gets home gets exhausting. My favorite things teachers offered for sale were homework passes, or lunch in the classroom with the teacher.
But this year, when I sat in Cannon’s curriculum night classroom, I was intrigued by the teachers approach to the classroom store. She created a fictional “desk pet” that the kids would spend their classroom money on. I initially thought the teacher was a genius because it was something I had never seen done before. And then I was even more impressed when I saw it in action.
I volunteer in the classroom and I happened to be working a Friday morning when the class store was open. Kids came to the back of the room one at a time with their money to make their purchases. To start, kids bought a little pet and with it came a little plastic dome house. But as kids earned money they could upgrade their house to a plastic box. They purchased rugs and blankets (fabric squares) and pillows (little pom pom) and food (also erasers). They can even purchase decorations for different holidays. Not only that, but their desk pets can have their own little pets. The kids were so into this little desk pet. It’s like the little tomagachi pets we used to have as kids.
Even better is the fact that this little desk pet has become a part of their classroom learning experience. They write paragraphs about their desk pet, they learn descriptive words with their desk pet and they draw habitats for their pets.
Cannon loves his little lion and works hard to make sure he’s comfortable and well fed. As a parent I’m grateful for an innovative teacher who is changing up the way “classroom stores” typically operate.
Chinese food takeout has become our traditional back to school dinner. I used to make a beautiful homemade meal and then one year in order to simplify we grabbed chinese food and it’s been that way ever since!
This year we are focusing on the idea of “Love, Share, Invite”. It is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. We talked around the table of different examples in these categories and Briggs and Hallie had vastly different ideas, but fitting for both of them all the same.
We reminded the kids just how lonely school can be for some kids (which is a foreign concept for many kids when they go to school with the same neighborhood kids year after year) and what a difference feeling loved and being invited can make. Can’t we all afford to feel loved? And who doesn’t want to be invited into the circle?! To the lunch table? To the swim party?
This year, now that we’re in person, we’re focusing on reaching out.