Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to School

AJ finished his first week of school and is still enthusiastic about it, which is a definite step up from last year and a huge step up from his attitude over the summer. This is a great relief to all of us, especially AJ. There was no homework last week, so we haven't seen enough to know how the work is going to be, but we did hear that the first book the class will be reading together is Patricia MacLachlan's wonderful novel Sarah Plain and Tall, which they are using to supplement their social studies and science study of the prairie and prairie cultures. Sarah Plain and Tall is a HUGE step up from the regular classroom reading they did in second grade (AJ didn't do the regular reading, but I worked with kids in the classroom who did). It's a book I read and enjoyed as an adult. I also love the way the curriculum integrates the various disciplines in a multi-faceted approach to a topic. AJ really responds to such an approach.

We think, although we're not sure, that the Challenge Program (which is what the school calls its program for gifted students) starts this week too, possibly tomorrow. I'm very curious to see how exactly this is going to work. The challenge program is both an in-class modification program and a pull-out program. A letter that came home this week suggests (although it is not totally clear) that the math part of the program will be initiated in the pull out program but will also replace classroom work with work at the appropriate level, generally at least one grade level ahead. The reading program, however, is more like a book group. The pull-out reading group will read and discuss novels together in addition to the classroom reading. The gifted teacher has not overly impressed me, although I also really don't know her that well. And the things that have given me pause are all about social skills, not about interaction with children, so I think it is something that is likely to improve. She wrote a very good letter about why she does what she does and about how her own experience as a gifted child has affected her approach toward gifted learners.

So in general, I am feeling very optimistic for the new year. Even so, I'm already thinking about what words I should put on a spelling list for AJ if the first list, which should come home tomorrow, is too easy. AJ says spelling is his favorite subject, which I think is because it is the only subject in which he was consistently challenged last year. Here's hoping for a better balance in the weeks to come.

What's going on with your kids? How are you and they handling the first weeks of school?


My Kids' Mom said...

Spelling was ok.. alternative list included words from his other textbooks, which I like. Math homework seemed dull, but I'm waiting to see if they start grouping soon. He seems to plod through most days, looking forward only to Tuesdays when he spends all day in the Discovery/gifted program.

Bug was recommended to be tested for his reading level, which is quite unusual for kindergarteners, but which means they're on top of things in his classroom and realize that he needs more.

FreshHell said...

Dusty and I read Sarah Plain and Tall last year and we both enjoyed it. I remember, vaguely, reading it long ago.

School doesn't start for another week but Dusty will have the same teacher, the same g&t teacher, etc. so for us, it's just more of the same.