What I love about Montessori school. And a few things I don’t love.

February 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm (Bored, School)

Where has the time gone? Brody just received his first report card. His first “official” report card for the first grade. Oh sure, he got some scribbles in Kindergarten, but Brody was the teacher’s pet in KG… Brody could do no wrong in Miss Delmy’s eyes. But first grade? They are a little harder on their students and have more kids to deal with (10 vs 40). Brody was late 4 days this semester. I was responsible for 1 of those late days (for those of you keeping track (hence me), 25%). He only missed 1 day.  No bad, I’d say. By the time I’d finished first grade, I’d missed 12.5 days.

Not only did we get the report card, we got instructions for the grading system (very helpful) and “guidelines” that should be followed if we were going to share the report card with our child. We were told the report card is written for parents, not children. If we “decide” to discuss the report with our child, we need to make sure we emphasize their strengths and gently redirect their challenges.

Gone is the anxiety, gone are the grades that indicated F for fail, etc. Now, the children are assigned numbers (1 through 5), 1 for “experiencing difficulty with the end of the year grade level standards” and 5 for “advanced demonstration of grade level state standards.” This part, I do not like so much. The number system seems so gentle… so non-threatening. Teachers need to put the fear of failing into a student, what the heck is a number going to do?  I guess I’m a little old school.

The report is broken down into four sections; mathematics, cultural studies, language arts and (wait for it) life long learning skills. Life long learning skills include such categories as intrinsic motivation, social responsibility, stewardship, good citizenship and confidence. There are many other categories as well (such as the ability to accept external authority). Apparently, Brody usually works for the apparent pleasure of so doing but rarely demonstrates mastery by showing others. He always completes work to the agreed upon criteria (he gets that from me) but only sometimes replaces materials in good condition when finished (he gets that from his dad). My son is a critical thinker!  This is what I love about Montessori! My parents were never told, throughout my entire history of school, that I was a critical thinker. Or that I had social responsibility. Or that I had the ability to accept external authority.  Back in my day, you had to accept external authority otherwise our parents would hear about it and then YOU were in real trouble. 

Thanks to my mom, I have my first grade report card. The comments on my card said “Melodie is a confident reader. She is also a good little worker. I’ve enjoyed her “down to earth” approach.” And my favorite comment “Dear Melodie, Have a happy summer! Thanks for being such a happy little girl!” Gotta love Mrs. Victoor (and I truly did, she was awesome). Other comments were “study of Japan, nutrition, Norway, pioneers and Eskimos.” Vague with very little detail.  In the comments section on Brody’s report, Brody’s teachers mentioned they want Brody to offer more help and take more responsibilities in the classroom. Their goal for Brody is to become a role model for his peers.  Comments include “He is comfortable working on dynamic addition and subtraction abstractly” (although abstractly sounds like a made-up word, it’s not. However, I have found his teachers like to make up their own words on occasion). “Brody is going to be working on dynamic multiplication soon.” Really? I am not sure I even know what dynamic multiplication is – never mind accomplishing it in the first grade.

What is truly shocking is the part where his teachers say Brody usually demonstrates concentration, patience and persistence because I have never seen him use these skills at home. Unless he’s playing a video game. It’s kind of like the time I called his kindergarten teacher and asked her how she handled his constant whining. Her response was “Brody does not whine, he communicates with me quite well.” Really.


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The day the universe was against me…

August 31, 2009 at 9:44 pm (Brody, Evan, Melodie, School)

Today was the first day of school for everyone in this house.

Brody started first grade.

A first grader!

Evan started kindergarten.

A kindergartener!

Mommy started the last two classes of her associate’s degree.

No picture

We woke up late. Well, really, who wouldn’t? With all the partying we do up in here. I think the entire household was asleep by 9:20 last night.

Evan and Brody didn’t want to wake up. It took 4 trips to their bedroom before either of them stirred. It was a gorgeous morning – boiling hot this entire weekend, but the morning was cool. The kind of morning where you didn’t want to get out of bed because you are so cozy in your blankie.

For the love of god, no one could comb their own hair!

Breakfast… whatev… no one needed it!  Until it was the last minute and I’m shoving a bagel down their throats.

Lunches… usually made the night before. Made with love and thought to nutrition and the energy they’d be expending. The fuel to feed their bodies … neglected in favor of sleep. Rushed the morning of the first day of school (how could I be so silly to think I could wake them, dress them, feed them AND make lunches all in the same morning?)

The route to school is new. And long. And full of traffic. Including Rafael’s Landscaping, the driver of this vehicle was so safe and doing exactly 4 miles less than the speed limit. On any other day, I would have remarked on his thoughtfulness and safe driving. Today, as the minutes ticked closer to 8:15 – I cursed as he muddled his way through the neighborhood streets. I’m sorry I called you an idiot under my breath so the children wouldn’t hear. I only wanted to get my son to school on time and not have to do the walk of shame THROUGH the office to retrieve a tardy slip. How horrible is it that my son was late for his FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL??

I had the entire route planned out. I wanted to drop Evan off first – then make my way over to Brody’s school. I wanted to hug them both and assure them their day would be wonderful. Instead, Evan and I walked Brody to his classroom – through the office (walk of shame) and got lectured by the principal about parents walking kids to their classrooms on the first day of school. bah.

I cried on the way to Evan’s school for several reasons. It was emotional leaving Brody at the school for first grade (NOT Grade one, as I was taught). I was embarassed for getting him to school late. I was frustrated over the length of the drive!  And finally, let’s not forget how sorry I feel for myself when I am homesick.

Eventually, all boys were dropped off at school and I made my way back home. During the drive, I didn’t even want to sing to the radio … I listened and reflected on how quickly time passes. I don’t regret any of the past events that brought my children to me. I love them. I’m a lucky momma and I will never forget it. All of the emotions were worth it.

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What do Americans do without decimals?

February 17, 2009 at 8:07 pm (Melodie, Ranting, School)

Ok, it is no surprise that I hate my algebra class. I loathe its very existence. I look at the syllabus and want to drown myself in a huge barrel of beer. The worst part about it, besides the combination of letters and numbers in a mathmatical equation, are the fractions. Come on America! Are we living in the 1800’s without calculators? Can you please step up to the rest of the world and ditch the freakin fractions!

It doesn’t help that the textbook sucks ass either. My discussions in the classroom (online – so it’s all typing) look like a foreign language. Do I care what the sqrt of 80^2 * the sqrt of 160^15 equals? No. Will I ever need to know the volume of a tree? (you heard me correctly). Algebra is not needed in the modern times.

My discussion questions for this week deal with quadratic equations. How do you know if a quadratic equation will have one, two or no solutions? Um… How does this affect my daily life? How am I personally affected by quadratic equations. What’s really funny though, is the thought that is put into why algebra makes sense in real life. Well, I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered to myself (while hiking in the redwoods no less) “i wonder what the volume of that tree is?” It’s ridiculous that this thought would ever enter anyone’s head!

Algebra is dumb.

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I am supposed to be writing my paper

September 7, 2008 at 3:54 pm (School)

Seriously, who am I kidding? Taking a geology course was the stupidest decision I’ve ever made. I love rocks! I carry one around with me daily! I always have my eye to the ground and don’t even get me near the ocean! A few years ago, I made Michael’s nephew carry a 20 lb rock out of a stream. Now I have to learn about sediment and how plate tectonics affect sedimentation. blech blech blech.

I knew I should have gotten an arts degree. blech.

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When is this school stuff over?

September 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm (School)

let’s just say that working full time, going to school, planning meals AND trying to get the laundry done does NOT work. i’m pooped. completely exhausted. then there’s the new kitten to contend with. the super duper attack kitten who loves attacking feet! and toes! and the couch! and the other cats! and my robe! She’s hard to keep up with! I am so done with school. After these two classes, I have 8 more to get my AA degree. I want to postpone it, I want to stop completely. Most days, I am too overwhelmed to do anything – then there is the homework… looming over my head. Taking over my days and completely disrupting my wonderful weekends.  gack!

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March 19, 2008 at 1:11 pm (School)

I only have 1 class for this session of school. What am I supposed to do with all my free time now? ha! I’m used to having two classes – homework due almost every single night. With only one class, my assignments are scarce. I might have time to actually knit! or sew! or shop! I might even be able to visit friends! My children won’t get upset with me over having to do homework!

Ahhh… the possibilities!

The facilitator from my business class was a busy beaver and graded my final project already. Usually, marks are given the Monday after the last day of class – but my marks were up yesterday. I got an A- in the class. When I was preparing my final presentation I mentioned to Michael that I was going to get comments like “the presentation needs more visual aids” and “I expected more pizazz!!” I was right! My problem is, when I do a powerpoint presentation – I make it as professional as possible. Although I am an expert in powerpoint, jazzing presentations up with visual aids and clip art just feels wrong. I had visual aids, I had a pie chart and a blinking sheep for goodness sakes! Did he not see the blinking sheep on every single page? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I just feel that his comments were stupid – and he’s stupid – and my presentation was stupid – and school is stupid. This was a business presentation – not a slide show of pictures from my trip to Niagara Falls (sidenote: I’ve never been to Niagara Falls… but you get the point). Isn’t it my choice to add clip art? gah! I missed 10 points on the final project and I think it’s because my presentation wasn’t jazzy enough. Where does one draw the line???  Will I be the president of some company some day and demand my assistant “jazz” up a business presentation?  heck no people! heck no.

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GPA update

January 22, 2008 at 9:01 am (School)

I got my final grades on my COM220 class (research writing.. blech). I got 95% in the class and only missed a couple of points on my final paper. The professor made excellent comments on my paper and really helped me to see what was excellent versus what was just good.

I am thinking more and more about writing these days. I am not sure if I can make it as an actual writer but I might play around a little more. I have finally figured out how to write an effective outline – which will help anyone to write. Also, I write this blog. Believe it or not, it has really improved my writing. I have committed myself to this blog and have improved some of my skills. I am better at describing situations and better at telling stories. Of course, I still have my off days – but overall, I know I am writing better than I was last year at the same time.

Thank god for my amazing spelling skills! Ha.

Anyway, the ol’ GPA moved up to 3.87 – quite a feat I’m told. Michael knew this guy in high school that had a perfect 4.0 and I couldn’t imagine the stress this caused him. I couldn’t imagine getting perfect grades for every single assignment. I have enough stress in my life, I don’t need to add more by having perfect grades.

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Winter Break

January 15, 2008 at 2:43 pm (School)

The winter break for school is now over and I’m back to being crazy busy! I was getting used to not having anything to do except knit. Now, I’ve got three chapters to read and homework to post – TONIGHT. Blech. Good bye kids, hope you remember what mommy looks like. She loves you!!!!

My poor husband. He has been so supportive of me attending school, supportive of the household, supportive of the laundry (sort of). I just don’t know if I can do this. I know I have to continue, because it’s important to me. But I’m wondering how school is affecting my children.

The boys don’t understand the concept of homework. They don’t know how to concentrate on anything, they don’t understand why mommy has the door locked. They can barely keep quiet in a movie theatre – never mind at home. I don’t want them thinking their mommy isn’t available for them whenever they need her.

I’m wondering how these next nine weeks will go. From what I’ve seen so far, these courses are going to kick my butt. The facilitators are very serious (both men by the way) and seem like they are expecting greatness from us. Of course, I can deliver – but at what cost?  Will my children remember me? At least, if it were summer, I could do homework outside while they play. It’s pretty difficult in the winter. Mind you, I’ve heard it’s going to be about 70 degrees on Friday.  Speaking of Friday, I will be doing my homework from the lovely Lake Tahoe (or vicinity) this weekend. Jealous?  You totally should be!

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What a weekend!

January 14, 2008 at 12:47 pm (Blog 365, Bored, Brody, Evan, School, Weekend)

I had a final paper due for school this past weekend. As expected, I was firmly attached to my laptop for a good portion of that time. I did get to spend some awesome time with Buggy while his daddy and brother went to the outdoor sportsman show. Buggy doesn’t like walking as much as he likes carrying, so I agreed to let him stay home (while I worked on my paper). It went well, except for him saying to me “momma, you are taking a long time” every 5 minutes.

I wrapped up my paper on Sunday morning and spent the afternoon, at the mall, by myself! Man oh man that felt good!! I walked around looking at anything I wanted to, I stopped in stores that looked interesting, I didn’t go into any children’s stores, I got to look at hair gel for half an hour!  Half an hour!!

I wasn’t going to buy any hair products or lipgloss, but the pull was greater than gravity. I ended up with some much needed gel, some hairspray and some sticky hair stuff for the boys. They often want me to put their hair into a mohawk and I don’t have the product to make it stay.

Brody has two black(ish) eyes today. He bumped his head at the exact same spot on Friday night, then again on Sunday. He also bumped the other side of his head on Sunday as well. Good thing his teachers know us well, they might have called child services.

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Where was I?

September 26, 2007 at 9:47 am (House, Housekeeping, School)

These past few weeks have been very rough. I won’t get into it, but I’m glad the flood is over. It’s becoming more and more difficult to write this blog. I’m trying to keep up with school, work, and family, AND Michael made encouraged me to cancel our housecleaner. I’m trying not to slit my wrists over this, but man is my toilet yucky! With three boys using the toilet, our bathroom belongs in a Frat house.

I’ve written about our housecleaner before, about how much I loved those few precious minutes on Friday afternoon before the children arrived when the house was spotless. Sure, there were piles of magazines and papers – we didn’t hire her to pay the bills or sort through which one was due.  I loved her, I loved how she could clean my house and I loved how I felt like a good mom because my house was clean.

I won’t go on, because I might not be able to stop weeping.

School is going really well. I have a great GPA and I’m going a great job of keeping up with my homework. I have given up reading for pleasure – I just don’t have the time anymore. Someone mentioned knitting the other day and I laughed! Knitting! I wish I had the time.  I am in the middle of my second block of classes and should be finished my first year around June or so.

The boys and I have big plans for this weekend. I am taking Michael on a date on Friday night, I’m not telling where we are going – it’s a suprise! He’s been bugging me all week for the location, all I’ll say is they offer Mac n’ cheese. Fancy! I will say that they have a wine list.  OOOHHHH

I am forcing Michael to finish installing the windows (no excuses!) and I’m hoping to get started on finishing the kitchen this weekend.  We have to install new drywall over the existing ceiling and get it taped and prepped for painting. I want to start prepping the walls for paint as well. It’s a lofty goal, but if I can keep the TV off, we might have a shot!  We bought pendant lighting and I’m crossing my fingers for this chore as well! Wish me luck!

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