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
New Year's resolutions are hard to keep. In fact, something around 90% of people fail every year! But one way that you can increase your odds of victory is to get other people involved.
Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?
If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.
I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.
On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.
You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
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?