Homework consumes far too much of our after school time. They have homework packets. Then flashcards. Then spelling words. Then nightly reading. And suddenly it’s almost dinner time. I don’t like it. I’m okay with some homework but loading on the home work isn’t productive. If Hallie gets 100% on every spelling test, why must she spend an hour and a half writing weeks worth of spelling lists in alphabetical order. It’s unnecessary.
This is how our typical afternoon looks:
The kids file off the bus and they are famished. We talk about the day and eat some food. Then the backpacks are opened and notebooks litter the table. I park it at the table next to them in-between keeping Briggs happy and helping Cannon in the bathroom.
Hallie can do most her work on her own. She starts going through her list and ends up asking me questions on how to do math problems in ways I was never taught. I proceed to teach her the way I know and she tells me she can’t do it that way. We then have to search the internet to figure how to solve the problems the way the new curriculum requires.
In between helping Hallie – Bennett is not so patiently waiting to be helped. He has two homework packets. One in english, one in spanish. He works through his packets quickly but usually doesn’t follow directions and ends up erasing everything. One day he’ll learn to wait for me to read him the directions. His homework requires more parent involvement and I’ve recruited Steve for reinforcements when he gets home from work. Steve speaks spanish with him as they do the homework which mimics his classroom setting.
Hunter is at the table with us as well and we don’t hear a peep from him. He has the least amount of homework of the three and Hallie can’t stand how much sooner he finishes and can leave the table. His classroom is really focusing on teaching the kids how to code working with robots so the minute his book work is done, he wants to do coding lessons on the computer.
As much as I wish this was a nice quiet library setting for them to finish their homework, it’s not. Instead, it’s loud and chaotic and there always seems to be three people that need something all at the very same moment. Which is why I despise homework time, but it does have one redeeming quality. While we sit around the table together – they talk and talk. They remember things about their day and they share it. They talk about the boy who got in trouble at recess or something funny at lunch. They tell about things they learned or things they observed. They’re little chatterboxes. I suppose that makes the homework time worth it regardless of how trivial the assignment may seem.
Bennett came home with a turkey and it was his job (with help from the family) to decorate or disguise his turkey. He talked of gluing cereal to it, which I knew would be a disaster. He talked of making it into Darth Vader which I knew would take forever.
After scrolling through pinterest, he saw the angry bird turkey. He loved it. I thought it was rather funny just for the subliminal meaning – what turkey isn’t an angry bird this time of year. 😉
With some white feathers and a red feather boa – this thing was stapled together in 4 minutes time. Much faster than watching large globs of glue on cereal dry! I drew the face and Bennett colored it with markers. It looks nothing like a turkey, but if you look real close you can see its feet sticking out the bottom!
I’m having a hard time believing its Thanksgiving next weekend. Where did November go? A number of people I know already have their Christmas trees up which I think is crazy and yet at the same time I find myself jealous that they’re already enjoying their tree. I’ve never put my tree up before Thanksgiving although I’ve been tempted to a time or two.
In my book this weekend is really the last calm before the storm. We’re going to make the most of it. Happy weekend.
Here’s just a few more pictures from our Halloween festivities.
The school puts on a costume parade first thing in the morning. Grades K-2 dress up – the rest of the grades enjoy the show and scream at their siblings as they walk by. Once the parade is over, all the costumes have to be removed and they move on to class parties. Bennett was a little nervous to wear his toga dress to school – he didn’t want anyone to laugh at this clothes – but he wore his costume with pride and the secretary at the school said it was the first time she had seen a Little Caesar in the parade.
Hallie’s grade doesn’t participate in dressing up, instead they watch the parade and then enjoy a pizza party at the park for lunch. I’ve got years of photos of these three girls on Halloween morning!
Steve and I helped in Hunter’s class first (with Cannon and Briggs as secondary helpers). The doughnut on the string challenge always has me cracking up and it never gets old. By the end, Hunter had frosting smeared across his face and a little in his hair.
Bennett’s doughnut challenge was even more fun to watch. He went after it with all the intensity of his little heart. His animation really came out in this game as you can see from the following pictures.
After spinning around in endless circles, Bennett finally pinned the doughnut against the wall and went to town. He was so proud of himself that he figured out this little trick. The doughnut eventually fell off the string and he stood against the wall – covered in powdered sugar – and held up his hands as though he were the champion.
After school, the kids excitedly got in their costumes and we walked to our neighborhood party/dinner. We were quite the sight – who doesn’t want to see Jack walking down the road looking like this?
The kids picked up their first full-size candy bar of the night. (Hallie and Hunter both ended up with 10 full-size candies. 10!?!)
Steve and I walked home with the three little kids, trick-or-treating all the way home which was more than enough candy to meet and exceed their expectations. Hallie and Hunter ran the neighborhood at a much faster rate and were able to pick up twice as much candy. They two were pleased with their loot.
We passed out candy on our neighbor’s porch before calling it a night. Then the dump and sort started. Our floor was covered in candy. It was disgusting on so many levels and we don’t even have a very big neighborhood! Our family handles candy differently than most. The kids pick their favorites to keep (10 pieces or so) and then their full-size and everything else goes into a large community bucket. That’s the candy we end up using on road trips, movie nights, sporting events and so on and some even donated. That’s how we’ve always done it and they have come to expect it. Its been the easiest way to somewhat control the crazy candy flow over the next couple months. Good thing we have dentist cleanings set up next week!
No, but really. Not only do we love the school our kids go to – but we love the schools they will go to. The same schools their cousins attend. The same school my husband attended and his siblings attended. You see a pattern right? They all loved the area and schools enough to move their families back!
The high school homecoming parade might be the best 4 minute parade we’ve ever attended. It’s the quality, not quantity! There’s a float for each grade level, the homecoming court, band and cheerleaders. That’s it. And with so few floats, you ask what is the draw to attend?
Besides the school spirit and the fact that we had cousins on two different class floats as well as the band and cheer – its the crazy amounts of candy the kids collect. You’d expect a 4 minute parade to throw minimal candy – not the case. My kids love this parade because they walk away with a large bag of candy. Let the sugar season begin!
Earlier this week I found myself at the kids school at lunch time for a birthday lunch with Hunter. And since I was going to all the effort to go grab food and go to the school, I figured I would stick around the lunchroom a little longer so I could enjoy lunch with Bennett and Hallie as well.
Here are a couple observations from Monday’s lunch experience.
The lunch room is loud. When I first walked in, it was just two kindergarten classes and grew progressively louder the more kids that entered the space. I didn’t realize just how loud it was until I stepped out for a minute and walking back in hurt my ears. I don’t think it was any louder than most cafeterias but I’d forgotten how chaotic that space is. And I love that there is not a teacher in sight in that cafeteria – that means they’re getting a much deserved break! Instead, the cafeteria was being manned by a few classroom aids and some lunchroom workers and the saint of a man who was going behind all the kids picking up trash and cleaning up their messes.
There is so much food wasted. This is just my observation, but those that brought their lunch seemed to eat the majority – those that purchased food ate a fraction. Like one bite out of the hamburger and didn’t even touch their fruit. So much food was thrown away. I kept reminding kids that they didn’t have much time left and they better eat – they looked at me like I had horns. My persuasion did nothing, they threw away the majority. I wanted to take a picture of every plate and send it to their parents! I’ll become the crazy volunteer lunch mom – policing the eating behaviors of kids. I was told by the aid in Bennett’s class that he eats his lunch the same way every day. He takes crackers and pepperoni and he stacks them up – and takes a bite out of the whole stack. I told the aid, “That’s not good – I’m sure he makes a huge mess every time he does that.” She agreed and she came up with the solution that he could eat over his lunch box so all the crumbs are contained.
There were too many little kids eating alone. I was drawn to the kids that were sitting by themselves at the end of a bench and I couldn’t help but wonder why they were sitting alone. Do they not have friends? Do they have anxiety in chaotic environments? Do they really enjoy reading and would rather read than talk? I asked Hunter about a girl one table over. “Does she sit alone every day?” He shrugged unsure as to her eating routines. Then I realized, kids often don’t notice everything going on around them. They need to be trained and retrained to notice things such as a kid eating alone. They need to create buddy benches in cafeterias just like they’ve done for recess. If you don’t have someone to eat with, sit at this table which signals other kids you need someone to eat with. Did I mention I need to be the volunteer lunch mom?!
Kids enjoy their parents visiting for lunch. I keep thinking Hallie is going to grow out of it, but she still enjoys it and her friends love on her little brothers that tag along. Hunter’s eyes lit up when he caught my eye across the cafeteria and he rushed over, and his friends were right behind him. And Bennett…oh Bennett – everything is still so new to him and this was the first time he’d seen me at lunch time and he was so excited. He was a little crazy, he was so excited. He kept leaning over and hugging me and telling me he loves lunch. He was pointing out all his friends and all the funny things they’ve ever said. He wanted to share everything with me.
It was serious effort to get out the door with the two littles, grab food and sit through three lunches (with time to spare in between) but it was worth it. And going to school always teaches me something, even when I’m not the student.