To honor the school year's imminent end, my '80s-obsessed sixth grader has taken to humming the Reagan-era classic, The Final Countdown . But I really wish he'd turn "the dial" to another oldies station---ideally one from 1967.
Because I am feeling much more To Sir, with Love.
In a matter of days, my baby will graduate from fourth grade. This year she has had the privilege of being taught by a wonderful teacher, the only teacher since pre-school that all three of my kids have shared. And man could this woman give Sidney Poitier a run for his money.
I guess I've always had a special place in my heart for fourth grade teachers. It was my favorite year growing up, due in no small part to Sandra Goldsmith. Mrs. Goldsmith taught me why Thaddeus Kosciusko and Haym Solomon were so vital to the success of the American Revolution. She convinced me memorizing much of Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride was a very good use of my time. To us students she was nothing short of brilliant and miraculous, kind of like Ms. Frizzle on The Magic School Bus. But she'd also do things like read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing out loud and laugh uncontrollably at the part where Fudge eats the turtle. And when she read Where the Red Fern Grows later in the year, she bawled so hard she couldn't even finish the chapter where Old Dan and Little Ann die. She was both superhuman and beautifully human at exactly the same time.
I have no idea if Mrs. Goldsmith is still alive----she'd have to be in her '80s by now. But there's no doubt she's long since retired. And I like to think her educational spirit has been reincarnated in my kids' fourth grade teacher, Ms. Mincberg.
This year my daughter discovered the joy in researching and writing a paper on the early railroads of Wisconsin. And the final report and poster she put together were terrific. But even better, she also fully understands, thanks to teacher feedback, where her work could have been stronger. She now recognizes it's was worth putting in the time to get her times tables down, even though the process might not have been pretty. And thanks to Ms. Mincberg, my daughter's understanding of commonly used literary devices is quite impressive for her age. I'm pretty sure she employs irony better than Alanis Morissette . And she can craft a metaphor like nobody's business.
Yes, fourth grade will always be special. Kids come in at nine years old in the fall, still seeming like little children. But by the time they leave in June, most have added a digit and are inching, if not diving, into tweendom. It's the perfect time to discover, with the help of a special teacher, what you are truly capable of.
I can still recite the first two stanzas of Paul Revere's Ride. To this day it is one of my greatest accomplishments. And my daughter will never underestimate the importance of the Soo Line Railroad to Wisconsin's history and development.
No, Ms. Goldsmith and Ms. Mincberg may not have taken us from "crayons to perfume", ala the Lulu classic.
But these two women sure took us somewhere pretty special.comments powered by Disqus
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.