Thursday, September 21, 2006

Letter Perfect

Today for the second time I volunteered at the kiddo's school all day, testing the kids on their letters, numbers and shapes. It killed me when some (many) kids didn't know their letters. Some didn't know ANY letters; I kind of don't know how that could be, unless the parents don't speak English or something. It's sad that they're so far behind the other kids, especially since the media is telling us "kindergarten is the new first grade." Although the kiddo got much further than most of the kids (except one little dude who whipped through a bazillion flashcards) got stuck on an earlier set of letters that normally wouldn't give him trouble, but I had to be fair and mark that down. I gave packets of letters to each student to work on, according to their test scores. I hope their parents are able to work with them at home.

One kid is reeeeeally having trouble. It's like something just isn't connecting in his mind, although he "gets" other things. He wanders around the room, talks incoherently sometimes, has frequent outbursts, etc. The teacher told me later that the reason he hasn't been tested yet is that the school is trying to find a Russian interpreter, because apparently his mom is Russian. She speaks English, and the boy was born in the U.S., but he was sent back to Russia when he was two, and lived there for 18 months. His dad isn't in the picture, and the situation is puzzling. He really has behavioral problems, in addition to language problems. When I asked him what the letters were, he was told me the letter sounds, then he started talking about other stuff. I feel very sorry for him and his mom, and I hope he gets tested soon so he can be in an appropriate learning environment. The teacher has pretty much had it with him, and she speaks angrily to him quite a lot. I wonder if she realizes how she sounds.

Some of the kids seemed to feel bad when they'd miss letters, despite my telling each one that it's okay for them not to know all the letters, because I was just checking to see which ones we had to work on. I'm so used to dealing with the kiddo, though, who's already reading, and was silently willing each kid to succeed. I honestly don't know how anyone can get a crash course in learning letters; the kiddo's dad and I have used daily teaching opportunities (recognizing letters on packages at the store, on road signs, etc.) to teach the kiddo, and by the time kids get to kindergarten, it's almost "too late." Hmm.

Having a smaller class would help, I think. There are 26 kids during the bulk of the day, with only 13 at the beginning at 13 at the end. (The two classes overlap in the middle.) Having more time as a 13-member class would be a good thing.The teacher is trying to figure out what to call me. I said she could call me Ms. _____, as that is proper title, but she and the class call me Mrs. _____, which seems funny because hey, that's my mom, but I guess all adult women around the school are "Mrs." regardless of their marital status. My son was helpful today and told all the kids my full name, including first and middle. They just looked at him like he was speaking Chinese. ;^)

I want nothing more right now than to take a gigantic nap, but I have work to do and my day ain't over. *yawn*