The September routine is beginning to settle in, despite our still wearing shorts and flip flops and pretending it's summer. Tomorrow marks two full weeks of Kindergarten under Meredith's belt. She seems to be enjoying it, and has even taken a substitute teacher in stride on a day that Madame Katie was sick. Around our house, it feels like the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" should start playing and pink clouds of candy floss emerge from the sky when Madame Katie's name is spoken (or Damn Katie as Aaron calls her....). She truly is goodness and sunshine wrapped up in human form!
It's been so fascinating to hear Meredith talk about her first impressions. After a few days of school, she was expressing to me how much she likes her teacher. I asked what it was about the teacher that she particularly liked. Her answer? "Her face, and her hair." When I asked for more detail, she said, "Well her face is so smiling, and so sweet all the time, and her hair is blonde and shiny." "And even though she's a grown-up, she's a little grown-up." Clearly being short is an asset in the Kindergarten crowd!
The challenging thing about school, for me, is that it's an experience that is only Meredith's. She gets on the school bus and goes there, and gets on the school bus and goes back to the daycare. We have no direct contact with the school in dropping her off or picking her up, which is a whole new experience. More than ever, I'm relying on what she tells me to piece together what her day looks like, and what goes on in the classroom. It has been a bit of a hilarious journey putting it all together through the eyes of a five year old.
One of the main topics of conversation is around discipline and expectations for behaviour in the classroom. Through a combination of carefully asked questions, attentive listening to her comments about the day and consultation with a fortune teller, I think I've got a grasp on the system that the teacher is using in the room. It seems that each child's name is on a clothespin, and kept somewhere on a board in the room. Various infractions in classroom behaviour result in your clothespin moving to the numbers 1, 2 or 3. Apparently one generally moves through the numbers sequentially, but some infractions are 'automatic threes' as Meredith relayed to me with eyes wide! When I asked her what an example of an 'automatic three' would be she said "Like running away from Madame Katie in the playground and going through the gate. You could get hit by a car you know, and Madame Katie wouldn't want that!"
Those children who pass their morning without receiving a 1, 2 or 3 get a reward before leaving Kindergarten. Meredith has brought home a sticker, a temporary tattoo and one day received a green gummy bear. She got the gummy bear just before lunch, I'd imagine, when she got on the bus to head back to daycare and saved it through lunch and the whole afternoon to bring it home to show me before she ate it.
At first I had an uneasy gut reaction to the 'reward' part of this system. Until the day of the green gummy bear. This tiny reward meant so much to Meredith that she brought it home to share the experience with me. That day I realized this teacher is one smart cookie. She has a short window of opportunity at the outset of this school year to get the kids to understand and internalize what acceptable classroom behaviour looks like. And she's doing it in a way that's certainly working for my little scholar. Meredith has made it through the first two weeks with only a 1. Her infraction? Using her outside voice in the classroom.
The last two weeks have also seen the resumption of swimming lessons for the kids, and Meredith's first piano lesson. Before we blink our eyes it will be October! One good thing about the upcoming cooler weather will be the chance for Meredith to wear her new favourite pants. We're so lucky to have a treasure trove of hand-me-downs from her cousins for her to choose from. Many of the pants though looked a little like this:
So I finally tried my hand at applique, after looking at these pants in the mending pile for the past several months. They were a hit! I love that my kids are still too young to turn up their noses at something handmade, and in fact think it's even better that way.