School’s out for summer!

Here we are. Another school year complete, and the summer about to get underway.

I remember the same feeling when I was a kid; a mixture of sadness as you know you won’t see your friends for the next two months, but excited to not have homework and boxed lunches.

There is a more relaxed feel to summer, even if I still must wake them up at 6:10 am to get to camp! It’s still days full of fun and sun.

This year, I have seen huge changes in both my girls, and I am so very proud of them for all they have accomplished.

The Little Mouse, for example, was calm as a cucumber from the moment she began grade 1. Separated from almost all her friends (except 4), she was placed in the grade 1-2 split class this year. It didn’t faze her for a bit. My girl can go with the flow, almost as well as I can. And she took the opportunity to reconnect with her old (and older) friends, and seemed very happy about that.

This kid reads everything and anything now. If we are out, she’s reading billboards, trucks and signs. If we are home, she’s asking me ‘mommy, is this how you spell…..’ and she usually gets it right. She’s started reading the bedtime stories to me, and is very proud of herself for knowing how to read.

She is super creative, and her homework bin (a place where all artwork for the year goes) is so full, not one more scrap paper will fit in there. She is also very proud of that, and loves to show off her creations daily. Usually making something for me, D and her sister.

Grade One looked good on her. She maintained her smiley, happy self; ensured that we completed her required readings every night and overall, she seemed to have a great time. She also learned responsibility, and proved that she could take a toy to school and bring it back home, which wasn’t always the case in kindergarten. She learned to show me her agenda every night, even if it was empty. She also took responsibility for her reading log and ensured that I filled it out every night.

What she didn’t learn was how to do homework. Because she never got any. Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not looking for hours of homework for a first grader. But every week, something could have come home to work on. There is something to be said for learning the practice of homework on a regular basis. And she didn’t get that.

I’m not sure what Grade Two will have in store for her, but I hope there is at least homework in that mix.

I also saw that she loves to be a part of the action. She wants to participate in school assemblies, do a reading or answer a question from the crowd. She’s quite the ham (I wonder where she gets that from?). I watched her be a part of the final assembly in school, and seeing her head peak up from behind her friends, so she can make eye contact with me, is probably one of my favourite memories.

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We’ve seen this kid come to life. She is friendly and helpful. She is funny and spunky. She seems to have maintained her friendships, despite being separated from most of the Grade One’s, as seen when she was invited to many of their birthday parties. I hope that she keeps this easy and fun demeanor about her throughout her school career. It will do her well.

She also avoided the drama, although very early on in the year exclaimed that she had a “arch enemy” (her words, not mine). I couldn’t believe she could have an arch enemy in Grade One, I mean, really? This other little girl was not in her class, but seemed to try and exclude my girl, or others, from playing with her friends. My advice to my girls, when those situations arise, are to stand up for themselves when necessary, but also walk away from the drama. And while those two pieces of advice counter each other, both girls have done well. They stand up for themselves, telling said “arch enemy” that everyone can play, and, she has learned to avoid that drama altogether by just choosing to play with other kids. I couldn’t be prouder.

She will always have an obstacle placed in her way, and my goal is to give them the tools to get over it, around it or through it.

Next year she will celebrate her First Holy Communion. And that means mommy goes into planning mode come September. She already has plans to cut her hair (after she has her Communion) and hopes she has more of her friends in her class. Me too, Little Mouse, me too.

Unlike her sister, the Little Bird had homework regularly. Mostly it was math, but there was also social studies, science and health. She too learned a lot and I saw a huge improvement in this girl who struggled last year. This year, she could complete her work in a reasonable amount of time, and seemed to be able to listen to my attempts to help her. (For the record, Grade 4 math isn’t as nearly as complicated as Grade 3 math). Of course, she still saw the tutor, who did much of the grunt work in assisting her, and we all saw the payoff to that. Her grades improved, and she started to expect higher marks.

I taught her the trick to memorizing lists of information, by making up an acrostic; using the first letter of each work in a list to make up a sentence. Then the letter association triggers what you are supposed to remember. I did this all the time in school, and it worked for the Little Bird. She began to love the word associations, ways I linked her work to everyday things and even started looking for ways to create acronyms on her own to help herself out.

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Time after time, she came home showing us tests and quizzes with A’s and B’s and we could see she was proud of her accomplishments. She did have a few tests where the mark was less than stellar, and those only reinforced the lesson that when she took the time to study – for more than 5 minutes, she would see the results. Her brain would layer that information and she would retain it and remember it.

I saw this girl mature a bit, and show me that she can avoid the drama. She made good choices and I can see her blossoming into a young lady. She even stopped biting her nails, something she has done since she stopped sucking her thumb as a baby.

This girl of mine is growing up. And while she has had homework since junior kindergarten, she is learning that the effort she puts in has a direct correlation to the results she gets out of something. And as a mom, I can only be proud of her to understand this now. Heck, I know adults who don’t understand that.

If you want something, you must work for it. You need to put in an effort, because things won’t be handed to you. You don’t just show up and get an A. However, she’s learned that she won’t always win either. Sometimes trying your hardest isn’t enough, but what is important is that you tried.

This girl tried out for new things this year, including cross-country, which she ran. She tried out for volleyball, but didn’t make the team. And although she was disappointed, I had to help her see that she tried. That only one fourth grader actually made the team, of all her friends that tried out. That she could practice and learn a bit more and then try again next year. She even tried out for the track team. And ended up being the sub for 200 metre, 400 metre and relay. On the eve of the track and field event, I told her not to be disappointed if she didn’t get to run. That she tried that for the first time and made sub and got to attend the event. That next year, she can try again and maybe even make it on the team.

The Little Bird of a few years ago, wouldn’t have even tried out for the teams mentioned above. She would have skipped it, automatically thinking that she wasn’t good enough. So, her confidence is growing and I can see it, loud and clear.

 

I am proud of both my girls. They have come a long way this year, and are laying a good foundation for more successful years to come. For now, we’ll hang up the backpacks and instead look ahead to days lazing around the backyard, daytrips with the family, and making fun memories over the summer. September seems so far away, but I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.

I read somewhere that we only have 18 summers with our kids. I suppose it’s probably more realistic to think 15 or so. I’m not sure how much a 16-year-old wants to hang out with their parents, but a mom can be hopeful. Even still, 18 isn’t very many in the grand scheme of life. And I’ve already gone through 10 with the Little Bird and 7 with the Little Mouse. So, if that’s the case, I am going to try my hardest to make the best of the next few summers.

 

Bring on the splash pads and the trips to Centre Island, Canada’s Wonderland, Toronto Zoo, Wasaga Beach and Blue Mountain. Bring on lunches in the backyard with a dip in the blow-up pool. Bring on summer matinees, homemade popsicles and ice cream dates in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. Bring on playdates with cousins and summer camp with friends.

School’s out and look out summer of 2018, we’re ready for you!

 

What do you have planned this summer? I’d love to hear your plans!

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