Archive for the ‘School’ Category

She might be learning French afterall

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Reid has been counting in French for me lately. At first she insisted that I say the numbers 1-11; she would chime in at “douze” and then I would have to continue. Reid rolled “douze” around in her mouth as though she were tasting it and very much enjoying the taste. More recently, though, she has consented to count from 1-30. She tends to miss “seize” (16) and “vingt” (20) but she hasn’t incorporated a French equivalent of the “eleventeen” that appeared when she learned to count in English. Reid likes “vingt-et-un” (21) a lot; it may have even surpassed “douze” if popularity contests were held for numbers. I’m sort of impressed that Reid not only understands the one-to-one correspondance between the numbers in English and French but has also started to play with patterns involving a switching back and forth from English to French. The teacher may not like it but I think it is an interesting accomplishment.

All of this counting supplements the great French accent that she puts on English words. She produces a credible “eur” sound for English word that would ordinarily end with “ar” or “er”. For example, I asked if she knew the French word for “day care” and she responded with “dayceur”. That is wrong, unfortunately, but it’s easier to learn new words than develop an accent. (Having spent the last 6.5 months in French training I know this very well!) All in all, I’m optimistic that Reid will turn out to be a “French girl” just as she thinks I want.

Signs of the season in Ottawa

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Yesterday, the weather man mentioned that there was a chance that next Tuesday afternoon’s rain could turn to snow in the evening. I congratulated myself for having booked an appointment to have the winter tires put on just that morning. When we had them put on last year, we explained to Reid that our car needed the snow tires just like she needed snow boots. Reid has extrapolated this to mean that we need to stop eating cereal with milk and eat oatmeal exclusively. Never mind that she has been eating oatmeal most every day since Ken left and every school day since the start of her second week. (Confession: Reid brushes her teeth before we leave the house and then eats her cereal in the car. I have no shame.) I could have some trouble conforming to this dictate since I like my oatmeal piping hot and that is difficult to achieve in the rush of getting out the door. Mushy bran flakes that have absorbed all of the milk are somehow less objectionable.

I haven’t found a pair of snow boots for Reid yet, haven’t even looked. I think I might be in denial. Despite an awareness of the fact that snow in Ottawa rarely waits for winter – or November – to put in its first appearance, some part of my mind has decided that it won’t happen until Ken is here to shovel it. It’s sad when people who know better take – or delaying taking – actions and create situation that they know will only end badly.

As for snow tires, the Quebec government has made them mandatory, starting this winter. Faced with this guaranteed surge in demand, Wal-Mart closed the only part of its operation to unionize and have a contract established, saying that they would have had to raise prices too much to pay the employees – all of $10 or $11 an hour instead of $8. I’m not sure that I would want to trust something as important as my tires to people paid that little and treated that poorly. (I’m holding back on including the words to *Solidarity forever* but only just.)

Hear Pete Seeger’s version:

Two weeks ago we went for one last trip to the beach, last week we went crunching through the leaves and this week I’m hearing predictions of snow. Yes, those are signs of the fall season in Ottawa.

School pictures

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I’m sure that most of the parents if Reid’s classmates were hoping that their kids would look good in their school pictures. I wasn’t. It’s so much cheaper to buy photos from the Loblaws’ Portrait Studio that I booked a session for Reid the day after picture day at school. And then I forgot to take her to it. (I do wish that the Portrait Studio was like the dentist and called me to remind me of the appointment.) All of a sudden, I was one of those parents who was hoping that the pictures from school would turn out. Of course, the company that takes school photographs doesn’t deliver the proofs right away. They must want to encourage prayer in schools or at least among the parents of the children in schools.

Two weeks after picture day, there was (finally) an envelope in Reid’s bag with the proofs in it. As far as I can tell, they took one really good picture of Reid that they then presented in various cropped versions and treatments. She looks so cute! I’m a (tiny) bit biased but it’s true. There is no glare on her glasses and they’re where they belong on her nose. She’s at just the right angle that no part of her face is magnified by her lenses (a new thing for me to watch for in pictures).  All in all, I’m happy and won’t complain about paying what turns out to be just a bit more than Loblaws’ prices.

I worry, though, if my hoping for bad pics will come back to bite me in her class photo. We haven’t seen it yet and so there is always the risk that my wishes will have come true in it. It really is important to be careful what you wish for.

Vote child care on October 14

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I’m not a political person generally but just as having a daughter has brought forward my feminist self that had slipped into the background after university, having a child makes me want to write a bit about child care just days before the October 14th election. I received a message from Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada that provides some statistics from a recent survey of attitudes toward child care. The key findings show:

  • Three-quarters of Canadians (77%) think that the lack of affordable child care is a
    very (31%) or somewhat (46%) serious problem in Canada today.
  • Across the country, the lack of affordable child care is seen as particularly serious in
    the Atlantic provinces (86%), British Columbia (85%), and Ontario (78%). Seventy
    percent (70%) of Quebec residents, and 75% of Prairie residents, see it as a
    serious problem.
  • Supporters of all political parties see an important role for governments in
    helping parents meet their child care needs, including Conservatives (75%), Liberals
    (88%), New Democrats (95%), Green Party supporters (81%), and Bloc Quebecois
    supporters (88%).

The $100 cheque that I receive each month for Reid is simply not the same as a child care plan. The way to create an adequate system requires that the equivalent of those $100 payments (and more) be spent strategically on a system. Scattering the money throughout society is tactical – it may engender support for the party that implemented the payments but it doesn’t build infrastructure and it may even permit some people who couldn’t otherwise afford child care to afford it but it won’t help them to find child care. Our family has the money to pay for child care but it was not easy to find care for Reid before she started school - we had to drive in the wrong direction to take her to her day care but at least it was a good one – and we were unable to find child care that complimented her public school hours. We’re fortunate enough to have been able to find and afford an independent school that offers pre- and post-care.

I don’t know how to show respect (in monetary terms) for families who choose to have one parent stay home with the children. Maybe $100 per month does make a difference in their lives. For me, even though Reid will soon not fall into the traditional child care age group, I’m voting for a party that supports a  child care system

Whatever your reason, get out there next Tuesday and vote!

Alternative education

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Reid’s intention to learn to read last night was no match for my persuasiveness and the lure of the park. We played for about 30 minutes before heading home. On the way, Reid asked if we could have a picnic in the living room and watch cartoons. In French, she added. Then, as though inspired, Reid told me that she didn’t want to go to school anymore but would learn French by watching French cartoons. I laughed and complimented her creative approach to finding an alternative approach to her education. Specifically I said, “Good try but you’re not dropping out to become a bilingual couch potato.” When she repeated her dislike of school, I responded with a simple, “You go to school. That’s what you do,” and changed the subject. It seemed to work. There haven’t been tears or wobbly bottom lips during this sort of a conversation in a while at least. (Knock wood.)

Big night ahead of us

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Last Friday, Reid and I went to the playground next to her school, the one I didn’t know existed, and I was ready to leave before she was. I have to keep track of things like supper and bedtime while Reid thinks more of play. It’s the way we divide labour in our family. I told Reid that we needed to leave but offered to go again one night this week. We discussed our week and determined that Monday was out because of swimming lessons. Reid ruled out tonight because, in her words, “I have to learn to read on Tuesday night.” I must have missed that note from the teacher. To go from no homework – I don’t even know what their theme is, if they have one – to being expected to teach Reid to read in one night seems excessive! On the bright side, Reid’s communication book noted that Reid was reading words like “_at” and “_ar” yesterday and so perhaps I’m not starting at nothing.

I’m still going to pitch the park as tonight’s activity since it isn’t too cold (maybe 12 degrees Celsius), it isn’t raining and it isn’t cold yet. Days like these will become less and lass common as autumn progresses here in Ottawa. I want to take advantage of the weather. Maybe Reid can wait to learn to read until the next rainy evening we have.

If you know any authors of books for children

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Today was the first day in a month that Reid hasn’t told me that she doesn’t want to go to school. The first week went well at pickup and drop off but since then, Reid has told me that she doesn’t want to go to school. Usually she asks at bedtime if the next day is a school day and if it is, then she says she doesn’t want to go. Sometimes she asks me how much longer she has to go to school and isn’t happy with my “about 20 years” response. Reid declared her preference to abstain from education last night but not this morning. I don’t suppose it will happen again tonight. When I pick Reid up from school, she is always playing happily and sometimes makes me wait until she has finished something before we can leave.

All this to say that if you know Robert Munsch, Marie-Louise Gay, or any other author of children’s books, please let them know that some kids do very well on the first day of school but need a little encouragement as the routine develops. We’ve read many books about first-day jitters but haven’t found any that offer advice for the “hey, my life has really changed” stress that Reid is experiencing.

Me, I’m savouring a day free of my well-practiced “school is fun, important and inevitable” lecture. Hope your day goes well, too.

Sporty Reid

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

I have in my memory, even if I don’t want to, references to “doctor Barbie” and “water ski Barbie”, or something to that effect. I’m sharing Reid’s physical activity schedule for when she is at school. At first I was surprised to see the 30 minute blocks when I’d been told there would be 60 minutes each day but then I considered the time required to get the kids from school clothes into and out of a bathing or ice skates, etc. The teachers will get the full 60 minute workout at least.

* Monday – Swimming
* Tuesday – Physical education
* Wednesday – Gymnastics
* Wednesday – Skating
* Thursday – Dance
* Friday – Free play in gym

I’m told that the swimming will go all year and the skating will last until March but that the other classes may change after a few months. With Reid’s decision to drop gymnastics and skating except at school, our weeks seem much easier than when we were going to gymnastics, skatings and swimming in the evenings without her missing any of the activities. I feel like I’m eating my cake and having it, too.  

Reid also has a music class, based on the Music for Young Children program, on Thursdays at 11:00, which may or may not conflict with or compliment Kindermusik. I don’t know much about Music for Young Children as their site is vague and the school hasn’t sent home Reid’s music book.

Because I’m that dumb

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Ken called Thursday morning. It was so wonderful to hear his voice! For once Reid and I were ahead of our schedule and we were both in good spirits. When I heard Ken’s voice, I put the phone on speaker and said hello again so that Reid would hear Ken’s “hello” out of the blue. As soon as she heard his voice, she spun around and said, “Hi, Daddy!” And then she said to me, “That is Daddy?” It was and the smile on her face and sparkle in her eyes made me sad that we don’t have a video phone. She chatted with Ken for a while and I even got a chance at the end.

We hurry-scurried to get to the car after we said our goodbyes and we would have been on time for our respective schools but for the soft tire on the car. Luckily for me it was on the driver’s side and also that Uncle Dave had told me to keep an eye on it after he had filled it the week earlier. We went straight to a gas station and would have still been on time if not for the woman who took advantage of my courtesy in letting her get to a gas pump (or so I thought) before I pulled up to the air pump. Then, she had to go into the store to get the quarters that the machine required before finally filling her tire. Reid had many questions about the delay and I used the time to explain the process rather than ranting. I’m a better person because of her ;+)

When we finally got to school, the kids were already in their own rooms, rather than all in the pre-care room, and so I took a moment to ask how Reid is doing globally. The communication book is good but doesn’t provide the same sort of observation that a conversation would. Reid had kissed me and went to play but when she saw that I was still there, she came over for a hug.  And then she started to cry and say she felt sick. What a silly mama I am! I blew the “no cry” exit. For what it is worth, the teacher had been telling me that Reid is intelligent, follows direction well and is not involved in any conflicts with her peers.

I slunk away quickly, like I should have done in the first place, and Reid waved at me from the window. She returned to her colouring table before I backed the car up to leave. That is a good sign. Most every morning she tells me that she doesn’t want to go to school and I tell her one or more of the following: that we both have things to learn; that we have friends to see; and that going to school is our “job”.  I was pretty sure that Reid was continuing to experience the separation anxiety that she’d had even about day care since Ken left but I wanted to be sure. Last year at this time, Reid asked not to go to day care and it turned out that one of her classmates was pulling her hair and otherwise making her life unpleasant.

We’re having a parent-teacher information session this Thursday night and I’ll maybe get more information there.

What I’m training Reid to be

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

I read Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes last Thursday morning. Lily thinks her teacher, Mr Slinger, is fabulous and decides she wants to be a teacher instead of an ambulance driver, surgeon or diva, as she had considered earlier. Reid must have had this in mind when she told Uncle Dave and me that she is going to train her child to be a teacher. Uncle Dave asked, “What is your mom training you to be?” Reid answered, “A French kid.”

I was aiming for bilingual, actually, but it seemed a minor distinction not worth pointing out