Mondays are solidly my favorite day of the week. I have just Ezra for the first half of the day, and then sometime after a nap, a walk, and several rounds of snacks, I plunk him in the Ergo and go fetch Sasha from school. We always meander home fairly slowly, swapping weekend stories, pointing out the things we see, and of course discussing Harry Potter.
I get Sasha set up with a snack, lay Ezra down for a nap, and return to Sasha to get her going on her math or reading homework, and then it's time for me to clamber onto my bike and head off to campus, leaving the kids in their dad's care for the remainder of the afternoon.
The reason Mondays are my favorite is because I get to go to class.
This is a stark departure from my undergraduate college experience, which for me was much more about community building and identity formation than academics. In undergrad, two thirds of the classes I was taking were not in my specialization, and many of my classmates would show up to class not having done the reading homework and then bullshit their way through the day's discussions. (I was absolutely not an exception.) In grad school, everything I take is immediately relevant, and I can trust that not only have all of my classmates done all of the reading, but they've also likely done extra reading and research simply because they are as excited about what we're learning as I am.
This semester the class I'm taking is a diversity & social justice course. I consider myself fairly well versed in social justice issues, but I didn't know there are so many resources for early childhood teachers for building anti-bias themes into their curriculum! I read both of our textbooks in just a few days each, and launched into an independent project where I'm reviewing children's books that feature diversity and anti-bias themes. It's a really fun project, and one I've been meaning to start since I began collecting names of social justice themed children's books two or three years ago. My professor just gave me the kickstart I needed. If any of my readers are interested in seeing the blog I've started to
document my reviews, email me at hugsorhigh5s at gmail and I'll send you
the link. It's connected to my real name, so I won't post the url here.
More and more I'm feeling ready to take on more coursework and scale back on nannying. I really miss the classroom environment, and I'mso incredibly excited about curriculum development, so I'm hopeful that I might be able to move on from private childcare to preschool teaching as early as this fall, and increase my classload as soon as summer term. I'm waiting to have those conversation with Sasha's family, because it will mean my slow and inevitable goodbye.
Anytime something doesn't go her way: "Aw, shoots!"
Sasha: "I wish Abe was alive."
me: "Who's Abe?"
Sasha: "Abraham Lincoln, of course!"
me: "Oh! Why do you wish Abraham Lincoln was still alive?"
Sasha: "So he could see that we don't have slavery anymore!"
Sasha still says her K sound as a T sound. She used to have a cat they called Kitty Bitty. She pronounces it "Titty Bitty" and I have to try not to snort with laughter every time the name comes up.
After haltingly sounding out the word "shirt": "I knew it was 'shirt' because 'shit' isn't a real word."
Sasha: "Have you seen the movie with the guy with the big mustache?"
me: "I'm not sure. Tell me more about it."
Sasha: "He's like, the guardian of the trees."
Sahsa: "He's all orange."
me: "Oh! The Lorax!"
"Some kids think their parents weren't ever kids, but I'm smarter than that."
Sasha is still really into Harry Potter. When she's not begging me to read the first three books aloud again, she's plying me with questions about Harry's universe. Luckily for Sasha, I am something of a Harry Potter geek. I was quite the trivia wizard in my day, and I've still got the cosplay costumes to prove my nerd cred.
I recently told Sasha about the great cultural phenomenon called Wizard Rock, which is essentially a genre of music with lyrics pertaining to the Harry Potter universe. The musical groups that fall into this genre often write and perform songs from the perspectives of JK Rowling's characters (like the band Draco and the Malfoys, who dress, act, and talk like Draco Malfoy) or from invented characters who don't exist canonically (like The Parselmouths, a girl duo who perform as two random Hogwarts students in Slytherin House).
Sasha was immediately intrigued by my description of wizard rock, so I promised to make her a CD of wizard rock songs. I had two major constraints when selecting songs: they needed to be about books 1-3 (and avoid major spoilers from books 4-7, mainly because it would be confusing and irrelevant to Sasha), and they needed to be appropriate for a 6-year-old. Pretty much as long as they didn't have sex, drugs/alcohol, or "bad words," they passed my "appropriate" test.
I don't know what Sasha's kindergarten "Montessori-inspired" classroom was like last year, but for whatever reason, she's behind most of her first grade classmates in both literacy and mathematics. Kid can't say or sing the ABCs straight through or reliably count to 20, let alone do spelling or addition and subtraction. And her homework this week included all of those things.
Sasha's dad keeps talking about hiring a tutor, but hasn't gotten around to it. We have all been transitioning Sasha to a "homework first, movies later" policy. Sasha's dad bribes her with "treats" (coloring books and the like) if she does any extra reading beyond the daily 15 minutes required by her teacher, which works sometimes. We're doing a Reading Scavenger Hunt every Wednesday in lieu of flashcards or early reader books.
Her reading skills are slowly but definitely improving.
Math, though. Math is something I haven't done with her much, since up until now the homework packet has been primarily an oops-we-put-the-whole-thing-off-until-Thursday-night ordeal, and I work for Athena's family on Thursdays.
This week, as Sasha poured herself a bowl of bunny grahams for her afterschool snack and we turned to her math homework, I was struck with the memory of doing "snack math" in first or second grade and loving it. Whether we were counting with M&Ms or goldfish crackers, I loved getting to eat my work at the end of the session. So when mental math and counting on her fingers clearly weren't working well (Sasha only has 10 fingers after all, and the homework had her adding up to 15), I suggested we use the grahams.
from google images
It totally worked to have the tactile visual aid, and Sasha loved when the homework asked for her to "take away" some number, because it meant she got to eat that number of grahams!