Tuesday, September 23, 2014


(We made you a card, but it wasn't sent in time to get there today, sorry!)
I hope you had a super fun day with lots of icing!!!!!!!!

I had a bit of time to talk with Judah's teacher this morning when I dropped him - Willow was wandering off so I couldn't leave & the teacher was waiting on the buses. Turns out I don't have to do a background check every year. Apparently I'm good for 3 years - so I can volunteer anytime! His teacher is a doll. She takes the time to try and squish mandarin oranges into his Rice Chex to get him to eat them, which he did today!!

Judah went to the bathroom completely on his own, just walked away and went, at least twice today. One time was while the Qigong woman was here. He walked away & we heard a door slam. He was using the bathroom! He even closed the door, ha! Maybe it was because someone new was here? He's never closed the door before.

Judah wore underwear to school all day with no accidents!!! Still sleeping through the night in underwear. The Qigong lady came for our 6 month questionnaire. These were all the same questions we had been asked 6 months ago. She began with the questions that were "no" answers 6 months ago. "Can he jump on one foot?"- stuff like that. The previous "no" answers were nearly all YES now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable!

At bedtime I talked with Sebastian about school for a while. Both of the boys were in bed. Minutes after I left them, Judah got up and walked out of the bedroom. He chattered some words to me that I couldn't make out.. although the word "Daddy" was clear many times. It sounded like he wanted to say goodnight to Daddy. Then he went back into the bedroom & went to bed! ha.

While the Qigong lady was here Judah was affectionate with Daddy.. "Hi Daddy!" and laying in his lap. Daddy had just come home from work. Judah did some talking & playing with the blanket on his head. He sat on the couch "reading" a book while his sister did the same next to him - he was actually copying HER this time. They interacted through play incredibly well when the Qigong lady was here.

Sebastian was happy to work on his addition when I found a math app for him today. Absolutely no refusal & he tried hard to listen when I was explaining things to him - often that can be difficult. After a while I just left him alone to work on it & he kept going! It wasn't a fun computer game - it was just addition. That was a significant part of class during the few hours I was there today. Addition and also filling in the blank.. 2 + ___ = 10. He is struggling greatly with addition. Filling in the blank is really not even possible at this juncture for him, solely because he doesn't understand what addition is yet. So we went right to work on that at home. THAT I can help him with.

Willow pottied twice on the potty today! She spent much of the afternoon with Papa. She came home with a photo album of really great pictures - family pics. Those were neat to look through.. the kids at various ages is always fun to look back on.

I found Sebastian at recess when I got to school to volunteer. He was playing tetherball with a kid who was in his Kindergarten class last year, but isn't in his class this year. After I got there he became very aggressive with the tetherball, punching it, looking very angry & making loud noises of frustration. His friend immediately got a look on his face of, "What are you doing?? I don't like this." His friend said he wanted to go do something else.. he began to walk away and then came back. The game ended not long after and I stood with them at the fence, looking down at the valley of trees & shrubs below. Sebastian spotted a huge nest - the size of what I'd imagine an eagle's nest would be. The boys asked me questions about nature & were very peaceful towards one another.

Sebastian was line leader today. His name got drawn. Every time the class went anywhere he was at the head of the line! He was very confident in this role.

Sebastian's teacher kept me busy!!! I cut construction paper, glued artwork, prepared work for the kids & even did filing!! I was in the classroom for 2 1/2 hours. 30 minutes was music and the rest was recess.

Music class was awesome. They have a really fun teacher. That seemed to be a point of relief & relaxation for the kids. Sebastian wasn't too enthusiastic about this class. He did like the part when they got up and marched around the room though. They are learning quarter, eighth, whole & half notes. They are learning the rests as well. They are learning to keep a beat too. I had no idea he was learning this stuff!! That class was hilarious - I was trying so hard not to laugh. The teacher would explain in great detail what something was. Today he explained what a levy was. After he diligently explained this & gave examples there were at least 2 kids that raised their hand and asked what a levy was, haha. The teacher answered, "I just completely covered that.. (and without missing a beat) Yes, Alex what's your question?" moving on quickly to another kid. The teacher would say things like "Ta Ta Ti Ti Ta".. teaching them quarter & eighth notes. The kids would repeat what he asked them to. In the midst of activities like this he would randomly say stuff like, "Elisabeth don't chew on your shoelaces." He did this without stopping the class or interrupting anything. Then 10 minutes later, "Elisabeth your shoelaces don't go in your mouth... okay Ta, Ta, Ti, Ti, Ta!!" It was hysterical. He wasn't laughing though. ;) I couldn't even write down how many funny things I heard & saw during that class! I told the teacher who I was after class. He says, "Sebastian is such a nice kid."

Sebastian's class for me was basically hours of not understanding a damn thing. The teacher talks in Spanish, Spanish only. I was constantly listening for Spanish words that I knew, hoping to get a clue about what was being said. Sebastian sat on the carpet with the class, at the back corner every time. He never said a word or participated at all during the Spanish activities. However, she did one short activity in English about Grandmas. She read a story in English & had the kids come up with 2 adjectives that described their grandmas. They filled these into a sentence & could volunteer to stand up and tell the class their sentence. Sebastian didn't answer any questions during the book. I was really hoping he would. When she told the kids they could stand up & share their Grandma sentence if they chose to, he just happened to look over at me. I was gesturing with my arms for him to go & saying, "Go! Go!" very quietly. Seconds later, he raised his hand. He got up with his partner in front of the class & did his sentence! YES.

During math she gave each child a dry erase board & dry erase marker. She wrote out a math problem on the board - they were to copy this problem on their board & fill it in with the answer. Then they held up their boards for her to see & she called on them to say their answer. Sebastian was so ambitious about this. I don't think he got any right at all, but he never gave up & his confidence was really great. Now you see why I went directly to working on math with him when he got home.. he can have success there & he needs more successes in that class. I didn't know that they were working on this so much.

I was only in Sebastian's class for the last part of a Tuesday. I don't know how the other days go or what they are learning during those days. With that information though, I know that we could help him so much more than we are now. He's 7, he doesn't come home & explain to us completely accurately what's going on & definitely doesn't give us all the info. We're finding that it's hard to help at this age!! And it's basically because we don't know what's going on. I'd have to volunteer there for a full week to get a feel for what we need to be working on with him.

The teacher has a chart she uses pretty regularly throughout the day to encourage positive behavior in the classroom (as she put it). She puts check marks beside the kid's names when they have good behavior or complete their work. She holds the chart up for the whole class to see. She randomly gives kids check marks during story time if she sees them being very quiet & polite or having some type of good behavior. She has 30 kids. There is no way this chart could ever be done fairly. If a kid is talking when he shouldn't be and she chooses to acknowledge that, then he loses check marks.

 At one point a girl raised her hand, gave the wrong answer and then another kid raised his hand and gave the right answer. His answer was followed by him announcing that the girl who had answered before him wasn't paying attention & listening & that's why she didn't know the answer. The teacher smiled & told him he did a good job. THAT was irritating.

One of the kids that I know was asking the teacher a question in English. This was as the class was just coming back in from recess & the kids were all milling around. The teacher answered the kid's question in Spanish. The kid didn't understand & asked again. The teacher answered in Spanish again. Still, the kid didn't understand.. so she tried asking one last time. The teacher again, answered in Spanish. Finally the kid just gave up & went to her seat.

Sebastian didn't complete an assignment in time, so he put it in his cubby instead of giving it to the teacher like the other kids had done. What was he supposed to do with it? I have no clue. The other kids had all finished theirs I think. She went through these assignments one by one, saying the name on each one in front of the class, holding her check mark chart & giving each kid 5 checks after she read their name & looked at their work. I never heard her say Sebastian's name. I looked over at him & he looked as if he was about to cry. He laid his head down on his table. The first chance I had I asked him where his paper was. I was actually gluing these assignments on construction paper & I knew his wasn't there. He told me that he hadn't finished. He went to the teacher & asked her what to do. She told him he could finish. Minutes later the class was told to do something else. Sebastian looks up at her & says, "But you told me I could finish??" He gave me his paper & I glued it for him. She gave him his 5 check marks then. Had he given it to her unfinished would he have gotten the check marks with everyone else? Or was it supposed to go in his cubby & he wasn't supposed to get check marks?? I felt as lost as he probably does on a daily basis. When we came back from music there were a few kid assignments waiting on my table for me to glue. Two weren't finished - this told me that Sebastian was not the only one (as it had appeared earlier).

Although I know he has learned more Spanish than we realize, Sebastian still appears to be very lost during class. Many kids confidently get up & do what the teacher has asked of them (in Spanish). Sebastian usually did not today, he would instead ask her what he was supposed to be doing. At one point I'm pretty sure she was directing him to get up & get something from his cubby & he didn't understand, so he remained seated on the carpet. She didn't stop & explain anything, she just went on to the next kid, one by one telling them to do the same thing & they each got up and did it, with no problem. Sometimes others offered help - one girl specifically offered him help many times & he was very defensive. She told me that she would help him and that he didn't need help (from me). Finally Sebastian tells her, "You don't have control over my body!" hahaaaa. Accepting help from others did not come easily for him today (that I saw). Obviously I don't know how he is when I'm not there though.

After class I quickly asked the teacher 2 questions about her check mark charts. She has a second one for the tables. At a point during class she goes to this chart and gives check marks to the tables that are being completely quiet. If you've got a talker at your table, you're not getting a check mark, sorry! I confirmed with her that I was understanding that correctly and asked about the different colors on the other chart (which meant nothing). She asked me why Sebastian had been upset the day before. I told her that he feels like he is the only kid in class who doesn't understand what to do. He tells us that he feels like a failure. She said, "I put him at a table with lots of Spanish speaking kids.." basically saying that she didn't know what else she could be doing. Unfortunately, it came off as her being defensive & not wanting an angry parent to deal with. There didn't seem to be a lot of genuine concern from her. She told me to tell her what she needed to do (Throw away your charts??!! Make sure your students are understanding??!). I didn't respond with anything more than just being polite. She wasn't genuinely asking me what I wanted her to do. But we could try to come up with some suggestions for her I suppose. ?  It wasn't a time for parent/teacher conversation, I wasn't planning on having a conversation about Sebastian's progress. I came there to see what was happening. At that point I just needed to process & talk with Scott.

There's no way of knowing how those kids are really doing in there. They all seem to be typical 1st grade kids. None seemed really stressed out (I take that back.. I remember one girl that did). For the most part they seem to be understanding what the teacher is saying during activities & are able to answer questions. They often answer in English but some kids are very obviously fluent in Spanish and thus answer in Spanish. From what I saw, there may be a few struggling but the majority seem to be doing alright. I was mainly focused on Sebastian though, so I'm sure I didn't capture the whole picture as far as how the other kids are doing. The only part Bash says he enjoys are recess, lunch & P.E.

I really don't know what to do. And like I said before, I was only there for the last half of a Tuesday.. I have no clue how the rest of the week looks. Sebastian is very focused on the beginning of class & worrying that he can't do that part. We need to find out what they are doing at that time. From what he tells me they are writing four words over & over, the same four words every day for the entire week. I don't know why that would be scary.. I'm very likely missing something, probably something that he can't explain or doesn't even understand himself. Being 7 should be fun! It shouldn't be late night talks with your parents about the stress of FIRST GRADE & the worry of being a failure.

I didn't see any safety issue though - just fyi. I don't know why he said yesterday that he didn't feel safe there. But again, I was just there for the last half of a Tuesday. And only half a day felt long! I understand why he complains about his days being so long now, man I had forgotten!!!

Judah had one bm.
He missed fish oil, beta, b-6 & iron-up. Awesome progress today!

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