To My Daughter- For Her First Day of Kindergarten

I am NOT a Poet – but what the heck …

You’re off to Kindergarten, and you’re quite well prepared.
Your Tinkerbell backpack is fully packed
With classroom donations of paper and paste,
And a shiny new lunchbox to hold every snack.
The princess’ new clothes are laid out with lace socks,
New shoes and a polka-dot frock
A headband with a bow is the final touch.
Kiss your dolly goodbye; you’re out the door with no muss.

Off to Kindergarten
She’s off and running!

Kindergarten is a doorway, beyond its threshold your classroom awaits
With chunky pencils, glue sticks, safety scissors, and crayons of every shade.
You will write, your will draw, you will cut and you will paste.
There will be learning centers to explore how things work,
From lego-built forts to clock hands to shoelaces and boots.

Just a few words of advice before you bolt through that door,

Stand neatly in line; don’t push and don’t shove.
Try something new, each day
Don’t give up, ‘til you’ve mastered the task.
Share your pencils and snacks
Ask questions – your friends might just be glad that you asked.
Be daring and bold, and unafraid to fail.
Stand up for yourself, and for your friends too.
You know right from wrong, remember that too.
Solve problems; don’t start them.
Be patient. Don’t whine, some things just take time.

Don’t forget – your teacher will teach, but the learning is up to you.

The School Bus
Kindergarten – Watch Out!

Is Cursive Obsolete? (via Seconds)

This blog post about the denouement of cursive handwriting got me to thinking. Is the demise of cursive inevitable? Should we care? Is it just another sign of time marching on? After all, humankind long ago abandoned hieroglyphics; no one speaks Latin anymore. Words themselves become obsolete all the time. (When was the last time you called your grandmother “eldmother”?
Is this simply evolution?
Seconds’ blog has some interesting thoughts on it…

Is Cursive Obsolete? In the news this week, Indiana’s Department of Education announced that schools would no longer need to teach cursive penmanship in schools. They would, however, let schools decide for themselves. It’s part of the common-core curriculum to phase out cursive in favor of digital skills. I disagree. According to the WSJ, which has a good piece on writing in cursive, it’s still an important and relevant skill. It’s even good for aging adults and help … Read More

via Seconds

iPads and pre-schoolers – confessions of a perplexed parent (via INNZ is the word)

I came across this Blog Post today, from “INNZ is the word“, and it struck me as quite relevant, and insightful, because I have a 6-yr old and a 4-yr old who learned to use my iPad as quickly as I did. We limit their time with it though. First, like others, I don’t want them to miss out on the satisfaction of curling up with a book, with real paper pages. Second, I could not afford to replace my iPad, and I have seen how quickly my kids can accidentally demolish similar items. That being said, when we share time together with an iPad (or one of our used iPod Touches), I am always amazed at the enjoyment they get from some of the educational apps (National Geographic, Jigsaw Puzzles, Matching Games). Of course we also often enjoy a game of Angry Birds!
I am envious of “INNZ” though. I am sure it will be many years before my children’s public school will acquire something similar.
It’s a great post, please read on …

iPads and pre-schoolers – confessions of a perplexed parent OK I admit it – my nearly-three-year-old daughter is more familiar with iPads than I am. It’s not hard – I think I have only just fully realised I am raising a “screen-ager”. Once they started appearing at her preschool, I should have realised that if I didn’t catch up soon, I was goi … Read More

via INNZ is the word

Do Lemurs Have Predators?

My (almost) 6-year old son is going through quite a phase. He seems to be struggling to understand the natural food chain and come to terms with the “Circle of Life“. He is fascinated by the Animal Kingdom in general, from the bugs in our backyard to the lemurs of Madagascar and great white sharks.

Lately, almost every evening he wants to spend some time researching his ‘animal-of-the-day’ and always asks the same question, “Mom, do [Fill-in-the-Blank] have predators?”

Ringtailed Lemur
Ring Tailed Lemur at the Singapore Zoo, Courtesy of Fotopedia

Last week, he brought home a library book about armadillos. Of course, after reading the story, we spent some quality time on the Internet researching their predators (bobcats, coyotes, bears, and the like). We learned how these creatures can curl up under their shell-like skin to protect themselves.

Our research sessions follow the same routine each night. We learn about whether said animal has predators, and then we look up the predators’ predators. We repeat this exercise until we reach the “Apex Predator” at the top of the food chain. Usually this means, lions, wolves, sharks or people.

The notion of people as predators really bothers my son. He is puzzled by the fact that people hunt animals (though he has no problem inhaling his cheeseburger). When he learns that the hunted animal is an endangered species, he is even more puzzled and upset. He just doesn’t get it.

I find myself trying to reassure him. I try to sound convincing when I tell him that people usually only hunt animals for food, and have been since the beginning of time. In some cases, I feel the need to defend past generations of hunters and whalers who “didn’t know any better.” More often though, our conversation reaches a point where I can do nothing by confess that I don’t know why some people still hunt whales and seals. I sigh as I attempt to shoulder the blame, or shame, for the world-wide population of grownups.

For now, I cannot do much more than continue to answer his questions and try to put things in perspective for him. Maybe he’ll grow up to be the next Jeff Corwin or Steve Irwin.

National Geographic Kids Magazine - may-june-2011
National Geographic Kids Magazine - (May-June 2011) Our kids love this magazine

He recently announced that we should get him an iPhone for his birthday like mine so that he can “Google” predators himself. (I’m not kidding!). I think we’ll just get him a subscription to National Geographic Kids, though.

“Mom, I know LOTS of words.”

He might not know the word “epiphany” yet, but my 5-year old son just had a pretty big moment of enlightenment. As a parent, I am glowing unabashedly right now. I have just witnessed my little boy turn one more corner, sprinting down the path from toddlerhood, and racing toward the elementary school adventures of the “Big Kids.”

My son’s second half of kindergarten is in full swing. So far this year, I have seen his progress as he forms the shapes of capital F’s and lowercase J’s with his little fingers while clutching an oversized pencil. We do homework together, and I’ve watched as he has begun to master phonetics and “context clues”, carefully choosing between the words “see” and “look” when completing the sentence “I can ____ the bird.”

Kindergarten Homework
Kindergarten Homework










I’ve always made a point of reading to my son and his little sister most evenings as part of their bedtime routine. However, at the moment, his school is participating in a RIF reading challenge, and we have been asked to read for 200 minutes over the course of the two-week challenge.

As part of this challenge, I decided to step up the game a bit. This week, we would let my son try to read by himself, and I would help him along. Honestly, I thought this would be a futile exercise: before the end of the first page his frustration would peak, and I would jump in to finish the story before the book got thrown on the floor.


Kids Books
My Children's Little Library

To my surprise, though, my little boy was fully up to the task! He picked out one of his favorite books, from the Jon Scieszka’s, “Trucktown” series, and he began to read, by himself! Granted, he is familiar with the story. The vocabulary is great for a 5-year old boy, with exclamations like “Smash!” “Crash!” and “Splash!” repeated on nearly every page.

But, he wasn’t merely repeating the story from memory, he was reading! Some words were tougher than others, and we sounded them out together. He laughed and told me it was silly that the ‘g’ and ‘h’ in the word “high” are silent. He got frustrated once or twice with words that had a few syllables, but he did not give up. He read every word.

I studied him as he read, watching the synapses connect in his brain as he sounded out each letter. He shouted the word once he put the sounds together. ” No luck. Max is S-T-U-C-K. … STUCK!!!!!”

Clearly my son’s teachers are doing a great job, and I thank them for that. My son seems to be living up to his end of the bargain too. I knew this day would come, and that he would learn to read. It’s not an epic event on a global scale, but it’s a fairly big deal in my house. My husband and I could not be more proud.

After the 20-minute reading session, I smothered him with praise and plenty of High-Fives. On the other hand, he was very nonchalant about the whole thing. With supreme confidence he simply reminded me: “Mom, I know lots of words.”