We just had “Open House” night at my son’s school and all I can say is, “Wow, things have stepped up quite a bit.”
He’s just started 5th grade and the focus this year is on getting the kids ready for (eek!) middle school. The preparation goes beyond the curriculum – clearly they need to have a solid foundation in mathematical concepts, grammar, science, and history – but according to my son’s teacher, it’s about thinking about what they need to accomplish and how they are going to go about making that happen. In other words, they’re working on developing their executive functioning skills.
I’m scared. Preparedness is not among my son’s strong points. For example, on Sunday he had a baseball game. About 30 minutes before his 10am game, I suggested that he get dressed (the “getting dressed” process usually takes about that long). He opened his dresser to find out that both of his pairs of baseball pants were dirty – and not the kind of “dirty but in a pinch you can wear it again” kind of dirty, I’m talking ground-in I-slid-into-home-plate-and-half-the-field-is-on-my-pants kind of filth. The problem was solved with a 20 minute quick wash cycle and 5 minutes in the dryer on Super High Dry (thank you, Whirlpool!). He still left the house with slightly damp pants, but at least they were clean-ish. Crisis averted…or so I thought. As we were getting into the car to leave for the game, he realized that he did not have his sports eyeglasses…which required him to run frantically through the house trying to remember where he left them after Saturday’s game. Miraculously, he only arrived 5 minutes late.
But at school, that’s not going to fly. He needs to arrive at 8:30 when the school doors open, empty his backpack of the items that he will need for the day, copy the daily homework assignment into his planner, and do a five problem math worksheet before leaving the class for the daily “special” (art, music, PE, library, or computers, with the necessary item – instrument, art supplies, sneakers, thumb drive, library books) at 8:50. While that doesn’t seem so difficult, you must remember that there is some morning socializing and multiple distractions going on as the kids come in to the class. They are not allowed to return to their backpack to pick-up a forgotten item, homework assignment from the previous night, or even their snack. This is supposed to prepare them for (eek!) middle school where they drop off their backpacks at their lockers and get the books and other items that they need for their morning classes. I hope it works.
Also this year, they will be expected to plan complex multi-media projects and group projects. In previous school years, projects were essentially laid out for them – now they’re going to have to do this for themselves. To be completely honest, I am not sure that this is going to go well, but I suppose that the teacher, with 20 years of experience teaching 5th grade, knows better than I do – and I trust that he’s in good hands with her. And that’s the crazy/wonderful thing that I’ve discovered as he begins yet another school year…if you are honest about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and partner with your child’s teacher to address both, your child is going to have a good year.
Now we just have to work on a more efficient plan for getting the laundry done!