Category Archives: Sprinkles of Knowledge

When kids try to make sense of their surroundings, their insight is often knowledge for us adults.

God Bless Elementary Teachers Everywhere

I wasn’t cut out for this. I wasn’t cut out for this….

I can be pretty impulsive, so when my almost five-year-old, not quite ready for Kindergarten, expressed an interest in learning to read, I jumped on it. Homeschool curriculum purchased, I finally had the time and was ready to teach my last child to read!

We’re on day 59, and though the connections are finally being made, we hit an impasse today…

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Me: Jack, let’s look at the picture. What is going on in this picture?

Jack: The girl is feeding those stinky animals.

Me: OK, let’s sound out those words.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn feeeeeeds theeeee chickens.

Me: Not quite. Let’s try again. Use your finger to point to the words.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn is feeeeeeding theeeee chickens.

Me: Are you sure that last word is chicken?

Jack: That’s what it looks like.

Me: Well, this picture is deceiving, Jack. Let’s sound out the last word.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn is feeeeeeding theeeee chickens.

Me: Jack, there’s only four words, and here’s a hint– the last one isn’t chickens.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn feeeeeds theeeee chickens.

Me: Jack, it’s past tense. Let’s pretend it happened yesterday.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn feddd theeeee chickens.

Me: Great correction. Ok, let’s ignore the picture. Let’s just sound out the last word.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn is feeeeeeding theeeee chickens.

I literally smack my forehead and Jack starts laughing uncontrollably.

—(a half hour has passed, I have planned next week’s lessons and am considering a beer at this point)–

Me: Are you ready to stop laughing and get these four words down? I am not asking you to pretend you know the words. I want you to sound out the words on the page. And by now you should know “Jan” and “the,” so you don’t have to sound those out. You can do this– there are only four words.

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn feddd theeeee chickens.

Me: Are you sure that last word is chickens?

Jack: Hhheeeennns.

Me: YES!!! Put it all together now!

Jack: Jjjaaahnnn feddd theeeee chickens.

(HEADSMACK)

 

 

 

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Trucker Salute

Back in the olden days, when Paul and I were dating, he drove a Jeep. We’d drive around Cincinnati worry-free (or at least it seems like that now that I look back on it), Paul teaching me the appropriate hand signals to offer other Jeep drivers, while I soaked in Cincinnati, trying to discern if this could really become my forever home. He didn’t think I was paying attention then, but I was (at least a little bit). Then the engagement happened, and Paul bought a used Ford truck from my dad’s company (maybe that would win him over?), and I had to learn the appropriate hand signals to offer other truck drivers. He didn’t think I was paying attention then, either, and he’s probably right– I was planning a wedding!! Either way, after thirteen years of lessons, I think I might have it down.IMG_E0122.JPG

Spicy Hot

Paul’s garden is underway and producing more jalapeño peppers than we can keep up with. His new favorite appetizer, introduced to us by a neighbor, is stuff jalapeños wrapped in bacon. As a result, we end up burning our mouths off as we challenge ourselves by eating these peppers. We find having glasses of milk nearby helps soften the after-burn, though it’s certainly not a miracle worker.

Yesterday morning, I tried to put a lid on my coffee mug and ended up spilling the entire two cups all over my legs and feet. I screamed because it was so hot, and the Youngest Ginger ran to get the milk. If I didn’t stop him, he would have dumped the milk on me!

Here is the ginger-lesson-of-the-day: Hot does not equal spicy.

When a parent gets denied choice in a private preschool program…

When Ginger4 was denied from a PreK program for not being 5 by a PreK cut-off date of (8/1), I went in and fought with our preschool administration on his behalf. Here was a kid who needed Kindergarten, whose 3s teacher recommended PreK, if not early advancement into Kindergarten, but whose age was prohibited with the district cut-off. Our private preschool chose to align itself with the district cut-off, only allowing children who are already 5 by 8/1 into their PreK program. When challenged, its administrators suggested I go look into other programs. Off I went, making phone calls, taking tours and compiling lists of various programs whose PreK programs had a later cut-off– 12/31 was the most common one out there. When presented with my findings, various excuses were made by our administrators, including one about licensure. As an educator myself, I know where to go to debunk their understanding of the laws, and I did. No response. Quickly I learned our current preschool wasn’t really doing the research necessary to defend their stance on the 8/1 cutoff date.

The majority of research online pointed to PreK programs for old 4-yr-olds. In fact, there was very little discussion about the benefits for a PreK program to solely serve 5-yr-olds– 5 yr olds who, by our local district, are candidates to enter Kindergarten. Why, then, would I not be able to make the opposite decision to advance my child into a private PreK program– especially one that he misses the Kindergarten deadline by a month and ten days? I can understand a public school Kindergarten taking such a hard stance on a cut-off for Kindergarten, and I even understand the reasons behind grade acceleration processes, but for a private (small church) preschool to dig their heels in and not allow a family (whose four kids have attended, and whose parents have supported and advertised their program) to make a decision on whether or not to put their child into a PreK classroom? This baffles me!

In my research, I learned where it gets fuzzy is when preschool programs use the term “PreK” to describe any programming provided before age 5 (Kindergarten-aged children.) This is where I believe it’s up to the parents to decide what is best for their child. In Ginger4’s case, he’d be turning 5 on September 10th… he scored high in his cognitive testing with a psychologist, and I believe would be a perfect candidate for a PreK program. When I described our situation to various preschool and elementary school administrators, and even the gifted education staff within our public district, I was given the response I thought I would… no one understood why our preschool would prohibit Ginger4 from attending their PreK program at age 4 years and 11 months.

I maintain private preschool administrators need to allow parents to make some decisions based on their individual circumstances.

Further, there is a reason our current preschool differentiates between a 4s program and a PreK program… yet, in my discussion and challenge phase with the administration, I was told these programs are synonymous. Yet every family I know whose child went through the PreK program touts about the amount of writing their child was exposed to in PreK– that their child’s preparedness for Kindergarten was on target. I agree– my previous child who experienced PreK had a very different experience than my others who attended a 4s classroom. The fact that our 3s program is mostly play and doesn’t do letter/number recognition goes to show what would be handled in the next sequence of skills in a 4s classroom. And Ginger4 knows his letters and his sounds and could benefit from putting those two skills together in a classroom more advanced and ready to write!

All this research and back and forth has taken its toll on me. I cried quite a bit about leaving a preschool we had spent our last nine years with, but I know I need to find something better for Ginger4. Further, I feel like a sucker for promoting and recommending this program to so many young families in the area. I love the staff at this preschool, but was saddened when the administration took such a hard stance on this PreK issue. Alas, and unrelated to our family situation, a good number of the staff I have loved and cherished have moved on to other jobs. I often wonder if there’s a connection to its leadership. When I step back and look at our situation as an outsider, I think, “Good grief! All this for freakin’ preschool! What in the heck is yet to come?”