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Parent engagement

Tests and more tests

The end of the school year usually means one thing for kids: TESTS! In Virginia, our 3rd and 5th graders are gearing up to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Other grade levels are preparing for end of unit tests, spelling tests, math chapter tests, tests to inform placements for next year, and tests just because teachers like to grade (just kidding).

Report card comment redux

Thanks for your feedback on the report card comment two weeks ago. Your comments highlighted the need for balance between the need to provide parent-friendly information with the need to provide accurate, research-based information. In a perfect world, a good comment would do both.

Raising money during tough times

Raising money is hard work, and our PTO's really feeling it. It's a combination of our fall fundraiser not doing as well as we hoped, and our considering postponing the spring fundraiser because of the financial pinch we all feel. It seems like every fundraiser goes back into the pocketbook of our school families. It might be time to take a break.

I have a boy! As a teacher! And he’s tall!

Those were the first sentences out of Anna's mouth when she read her teacher assignment for this year. Out of 20 classroom teachers at our school, there's exactly one male teacher. He teaches first grade, and Anna got him!

She's thrilled, of course. All the kids know Mr. B. All the parents love him. "Gentle giant," they say. "A real calm presence." Sounds good to me. I'll let you know as the year goes along.

New school year = rough transitions for some

My friend Kathy has a son with mild to moderate disabilities. Henry is going into third grade this year, and I just got an email from her:

"Back to school" has special meaning for Henry. Transitions are tough for him, so these first few weeks of getting adjusted are hard for everyone. I know things will eventually settle down, but I wish these this time of year could be easier. So many tantrums, so many tears.

School spending: Parents and teachers

Molly, Anna, and I went shopping for school supplies yesterday. It's always a bit of a giddy shopping trip; choosing which color for the composition book, 16 or 24 box of crayons, Elmer's or Rose's glue…getting to buy colored pencils…oh my! We were there for at least an hour.

Total cost: $47.00 for two kids.

Should reading with parents count?

I blogged about reading logs back in August, when Molly was just getting started with a daily homework assignment to read and respond every day after school. The title of that post, Reading Logs, Reading Blahs pretty much sums up the way I feel about reading logs. Your comments on that post suggest that many of you feel the same way!

Same thing next year? Grade retention.

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

Kindergarten: Half or full day?

One of my blog posts that got people talking was the one about our decision to enroll Anna in kindergarten as a 5 year old (rather than waiting until she turned 6). Both our girls have summer birthdays; we waited to send our older daughter, but wrestled with the same decision for our younger daughter.

Do as I say, not as I do

I heard that expression for the first time when my mom was teaching me to drive. She has a bit of a lead foot, and had gotten a spate of speeding tickets when I was a teenager. The new driver that I was, I stepped on the gas to reach the speed limit as quickly as possible. She turned to me and said, "Do as I say, not as I do, especially when it comes to driving!"

I find myself using that same expression these days as I talk to parents about reading to their kids: Do as I say, not as I do. Yes, it's true...I haven't been reading to my girls.

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller