Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not Your Madre's Kindergarten

My confidence in The Lawyer's charter elementary school is renewed. The Hubster and I hooked up with the sitter this morning to head downtown and watch The Lawyer show off his new Spanish, math, science, computer and reading skills at his SLC (student led conference). SLCs essentially replace report cards and grades at this school, the subject of a future post, a very positive one.

Kindergarten sure has changed since I learned to color inside the lines beneath the wooden pointer authority of Sister Bernadette in 1980. The Lawyer figures sums in ways I couldn't have imagined, in modes I didn't know until he showed me today, all without the monotonous drill and kill (and without the plus, minus and multiplication symbols I’ve always loathed). I wish I could explain his school’s multidisciplinary word problem-style matemáticas methodology in a way that makes perfect sense, but I'm still trying to wrap my own numbers impaired mind around it. The Lawyer’s results, most often correct, looked more like Algebra than the simple addition that I recall from first or second grade. Also, his teachers encourage him to collaborate with students he's partnered with for each problem. Where most traditional teachers might call that cheating, The Lawyer's educators call it teamwork. I love it.

Back when I was in kindergarten we went to school for two or three hours, not a full six, and we didn't even touch math. And we definietely didn’t have time for electives like computers and Web site design, organic gardening, photography, baking, etc. We were too busy singing our ABCs and memorizing the Lord's Prayer. We even confessed our “sins,” as if we'd even committed any by the tender age of five. Does calling your sister a "jerk off" before knowing what jerking off is count as a sin? If so, then send me some BBQ sauce pronto.

The Lawyer beamed with pride when we went up the three flights to the rooftop container garden where his class’ organic flowers, fruits and veggies are thriving against a sweltering urban skyline. He showed us his oil pastel garden journal, where he tracks the progress of his strawberries, corn and sunflowers. We should start a journal for our backyard garden before our pumpkin patch eclipses the entire plot and burps something creepy at the kids, like "feed me, Seymore," or "Behold the Great Pumpkin!" Talk about the stuff of nightmares. (Speaking of nightmares, expect future posts on The Lawyer's persistent night terrors.)

Did you know that a motherboard in Spanish is called a tarjeta madre? The Laywer told us. That sounds so nanner, nanner ... but I'm running out of writing juice here, so bear with me. He showed me and his proud papa around a gutted computer completely in Spanish. He also taught us about the life cycle of bees, also in mostly Spanish, and mixed us some "bee bread" made out of crumbled graham crackers and honey. Surprisingly, I didn't have to spit it in my purse. When The Lawyer wasn't looking I took a second Dixie cup of the stuff. I hope there’s not some kid crying about a missing batch of “bee bread” in that sweet smelling science classroom. Oops.

We listened patiently and in awe as our six-year-old son read us four books back to back, with minimal help. My husband suddenly erupted at one point, yelling "CHEATER!" at top volume. I was mortified. "We're supposed to be encouraging him, not criticizing," I admonished him under my breath.

"I was just kidding," The Hubster said, checking his Blackberry momentarily for an email from his boss. “It just seems like he’s memorized this stuff. That’s all. Lighten up.”

My eyes bulged. I shot him a look straight from el diablo himself. Sister Bernadette would have vomited like Linda Blair for sure.

"Put that thing away," I snapped. "This is The Lawyer's time. It's really important. And it’s called SIGHT READING! Haven’t you heard of it?! And he’s also sounding it out. I can see him doing it."

The Hubster itched his face with his middle finger. Mature. Nice. Thanks.

"This is the last time I'll come to one of these SLCs with YOU!" he whispered, thankfully out of The Lawyer’s view.


Nice. So our son's shining moment was dulled by his bickering parents. I don't think he caught on. Either way, by the end, when we met with each of The Lawyer's teachers to discuss his “marked” improvement from last semester and "co-create" his first-grade goals (academic and social) with him, all was kosher and calm again, minus irritating, rude Blackberry interruptions. Am I the only one who wants to step on her husband's friggin' Blackberry at least once a day? How about flushing it down the toilet or spilling coffee all over it? Dumb old-fashioned fantasies ...

So much more to “share,” as they say at The Lawyer’s school, but rushing off to swimming, then baseball practice...



At 5:10 AM, Blogger Mama Sarita said...

That sounds really cool! It must be so amazing to see your oldest child learning so many things.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Bliss said...

dang mommy, i am sooooo jealous. if we could find a school like that, our home schooling days would be over. i think... congrats to the Lawyer, for being a team player. :-)

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