Category Archives: Education

Addresses curriculum issues

There’s a Teacher in All of Us

Simone at SED

By:  Davida Grant

Simone’s preschool class is tackling the alphabet.   Baby girl already knows the ABC song, and can sing it with great feeling and enthusiasm.  If you point to an individual letter, there’s even a good chance she’ll get it right.  Truth is, she really doesn’t know most of the letters.  My baby has mastered the art of guessing.  I wonder who she takes that after.

I am a strong believer that parents should reinforce what their kids learn in school.  When Simone’s teacher advised that we should work with Simone on identifying lower case letters, I thought it would be a piece a cake.  I reasoned that Simone hadn’t mastered the skill because she didn’t have sufficient one-on-one time with her teachers.  Uhhhhhhh, not exactly.  I quickly surmised that it’s going to take a boat load of repetitious activity for Simone to learn her letters.  Oh how I long for the days when all I did was read Simone two books before bed. 

I was not prepared for the amount of work, or maybe I should say effort, involved in educating a child.  Simone and I will spend 30 minutes reviewing three letters.  We’ll go over and over and over them and when we finish, I’m convinced Simone has it. We celebrate with high fives, lots of “good jobs,” even a happy dance.  Then, literally five minutes later, I’ll ask her to identify one of the letters – say the letter c – and she’ll look at it and say, “I don’t know.”  How do teachers do it day in and day out with 20+ preschoolers, all at different stages of pre-literacy development?   God bless them!!!  I now know without a shadow of doubt that “teaching” academics is not part of my skill set.  It does not come naturally and it really is a bear.  If I could find a way to completely hand this off to my hubby, who by the way often conveniently disappears from the room when Simone and I begin an alphabet “teaching” session, I most certainly would. He thinks he’s slick.

On a serious note, as I reflected on this particular journey with Simone, I started thinking about all the things I am good at in terms of “teaching.”  I teach baby girl how to be courteous.  I teach her what it means to be a lady.  I teach her what it means to be beautiful, inside and out.  I teach her how to show love.  I teach her how a wife should treat her husband.  So, even though I may struggle with “teaching” her academics, I excel (yep, I am tooting my own horn) at “teaching” baby girl so many others things, things that are equally important to her growth and development.   I’m happy to say that I too wear the moniker “teacher” and Simone is and always will be my star pupil.  

Oh, and as far as continuing to do my part to reinforce Simone’s academic learning at home, in the words of Olivia Pope, “It’s handled.” 

5 Comments

Filed under Education, Parenting Trends

Report Cards are in. Why was I so nervous?

Simone at school

By:  Davida Grant

My preschooler, Simone, got her first report card this week, or rather I should say the hubby and I got it.  I was a bundle of nerves before the parent-teacher meeting.  I really want baby girl to do well and being the overachiever, straight-A student I was, I was fearful that I would not respond well if Simone’s teacher gave her less than favorable or even mediocre scores.  I know this sounds a little crazy because she’s only three, but hear me out.  Simone had serious medical issues her first year of life which impaired her ability to verbally express any sound until she was 1-years old.  Since then, she’s been in speech therapy classes (thanks Stacey Raina, a Brookland area DC mom) and at home, we’ve put a lot of effort into developing her pre-literacy skills.  We apprised her teachers of her issues and Simone has been consistently working with a school speech therapist.  Her communication skills have improved dramatically.  While I would expect Simone’s report card to take into account her communication issues, those issues should not be used against her.  I’m not having that, PERIOD. Simone, from a cognitive perspective, is on track (she’s had multiple tests in this area) so I fully expect the majority of her scores to reflect that she is on target.

The hairs on my arms (nope, I don’t wax those) were literally standing at attention when I sat down for the meeting.  I braced myself as her teachers (she has two) slid over the white envelope containing her report card.  You could hear a pin drop.  WHY WEREN’T THEY TALKING!  As I opened it, the sound of my heartbeat was pounding in my ears.  I know this sounds overly dramatic, but it’s the truth.  My hubby stared at me, not knowing which Vida Marie he’d see if I didn’t like those scores.  I know he was silently praying, Lord please let Simone’s scores be good AND Lord, please don’t let my wife embarrass me.  I marvel at how that man deals with me, but I digress.  I quickly glanced at the report card, focusing on her scores.  I took a deep breath, and the meeting began.

Her scores were a mixed bag.  She scored “on target” ( a 3 out of 5 rating) in most areas (YAY), but received a “1” and a “2” in a few.  As her teachers explained the “low” scores, I did my best to remain calm and focused.  After all, the purpose of the meeting was to identify any areas of concern and that’s valuable.  So, how did I do?  Well, surprisingly I took it in stride.  My hubby was so impressed with me!!!!  He was positive I was going to grill them. Thinking back on it, there was something about her primary teacher’s demeanor.  It was soothing.  Somehow, she made me feel like everything was okay.  I say hats off to her because I know I can be a piece of work, especially when it comes to my babies.  I heard and more importantly I received her message.  Simone is generally on track and only needs a little more help in a couple areas.  We agreed that there were additional steps the hubby and I could take at home to reinforce the classroom learning, and they agreed to apprise us on a fairly routine basis regarding her progress.  That’s a win-win for everybody. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

How was your child’s first report card?  Feel free to brag.  I love celebrating excellence.

2 Comments

Filed under Education, Toddlers

My First PTA: A Hot Mess

By:  Davida Grant

Last night I attended my first PTA. The elementary school, a public charter bilingual school, is just getting the PTA off the ground. I expected it to be a little rough, but frankly it was a hot mess, both literally and figuratively. There weren’t enough seats and it was at least 90 degrees in there. Grant (my 4-month-old) was with me and he was giving me the side eye as his forehead started to bead with sweat. When my hair, which I wear natural (no perm) and in a straight style, started to curl at the roots, I almost jumped ship. A half curly and half bone straight look is not hawt. EVER!!!! And to make matters worse, no one really knew what to do. Parents had previously submitted potential PTA committee topics to the school principal (Yes I said Principal since there is no Parent leadership in place), but that was it. It truly was the blind leading the blind. I hate Hate HATE disorganization, but in that moment I had to make a choice. Stay or Go. I stayed, determined to see this thing through.

I’m glad I did. We eventually divided up into groups by committee topic (those submitted by the parents). I had suggested and signed up for the “Read to Succeed” committee, the overall goal being to assist parents in helping their children read at or above grade level in both English and Spanish. Don’t you just love that goal!!! And who’d they select as the team lead? You guessed it. Yours truly. I was hesitant at first, being that this was my very first PTA meeting, and I know didly squat about PTA protocol and “stuff”. But I figured I pushed out 2 kids, planned my 5-star wedding (yes I said 5-star) in 5 months and hell passed the bar the first time around. I could do this! So I decided to bite the bullet and accepted it. Lord only knows where I’ll find the time to fit this in. I return to work October 1st after a 5-month leave of absence to take care of my new bundle of joy. THEY WILL BE COMING FOR ME DAY ONE!!! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But I’m superwoman and supermom, right? Somehow, it will all get done.

Hopefully, some of you are seasoned PTA moms. Help!!! I’d love any suggestions you might have to implement the committee’s goal. Some we’re considering are:

Providing parents a break down of the literacy standards. The objective is to make sure parents understand them. Parents can’t reinforce learning if they don’t understand the literacy standards applicable to their child’s particular grade.

Providing parents with SPECIFIC, TARGETED reading and other educational activities for their children to use during winter and summer breaks that will re-enforce the literacy standards. The objective is to take the guesswork out of it for parents.

Having a quarterly “Reading Is Fun” night at the school. The objective is to make reading fun for parents and kids alike.

Fundraising activities to obtain the money to implement the foregoing activities.  WE NEED MONEY!!!

So, that’s where we are. I’m interested in any feedback you might have on these objectives, how to raise money, how to keep parents engaged, and any other PTA-related advice you can share.

4 Comments

Filed under Education, PTA