These are words I never heard Ryan say last year. In fact, it was far more often the opposite came out of his mouth. He’d say he hated school, we’d ask why…he’d usually say, “Because it’s too hard.”
This post by a fellow blogger made me consider how far we’ve come since last year when it coms to Ryan’s self-esteem. I’m not sure what changed, but my theory is Ryan’s ability to communicate better has helped him in other aspects of his life. Speech has always been something he’s struggled with, but over the past two years we’ve seen so much improvement!
Last year, he was getting in trouble left and right for his anger. He’d get reprimanded for something and the second the teacher went to change his “color” in his folder, he’d just have a meltdown. The meltdown itself was often more cause for disciplinary action than the original infraction. This would usually all begin with him acting silly in class.
That’s what Ryan does when he feels uncomfortable or challenged – he makes a joke, giggles, wiggles, etc. Part of me is glad that he doesn’t immediately resort to anger like he used to, but the silliness can cause problems.
So far this year, we haven’t had any anger issues at all. In fact, in the first 8 days of school, he’s only had 2 “yellow” days – one was for talking when the teacher was talking and the other was for getting out of line to get a drink after recess. I’ve never been so proud of yellow days before! Last year, either of those moves resulting in a color change would have likely developed into a full tilt explosion.
Ryan’s new mantra has become, “I love school!” He told us this morning that he loves school, but loves summer, too. He actually comes home happy and he wants to tell us about his day. Robbie has the same teacher this year that Ryan had last year. I jokingly told her the other day that I’ve learned more about her in the last week (through Robbie’s tales of school) than I ever did last year!
Ryan’s reading has improved so much since last year. I feel guilty at times for not working with each kid individually more, but I think the combination of our reading time in the evenings (the hour before bed) mixed with a little brotherly competition (Robbie’s by far the strongest reader) has done wonders. I introduced the boys to Shel Silverstein last year – Where the Sidewalk Ends is one of my favorite books from childhood. It’s now one of their favorites, too. Ryan used to struggle reading anything from that book (granted, the poetic license isn’t really teaching grammar or proper pronunciation at times!), but now he’s doing so well.
As a side note, I’m starting to wonder if books like WSE are better for weak readers than I’d originally thought. It’s one thing to guess what the next word is, but authors like Silverstein and Dr. Seuss throw you for so many loops that they force you to SOUND IT OUT. What’s that? You’ve got a Wocket in your pocket? You went for a ride in a flying shoe with Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, too? I think these authors – and others like them – help children have FUN with words.
Last night, Ryan was telling us everything he’d learned in school. They’re discussing civil rights and he was going on about Thurgood Marshall and Harriet Tubman (though, admittedly, he made us guess at Harriet Tubman – he couldn’t remember her name, just that “she helped people find new homes and she changed her name when she was 18”). I’ve never heard him go on about what he’d learned in class before. It was really great to hear him so excited about learning.
I know it’s early in the school year, but this year already feels infinitely better than last year. Rick’s easing the boys into walking to/from school (currently walking most of the way with them, but will slowly wean them off having him there the whole way). I’m making them healthy lunches – and they’re coming home with empty lunch boxes most days! Even Colin is reading better, when he’s willing to sit down and try for more than a few minutes.
I hope this school year continues to be a good one. Here’s hoping for a good school year for all of you other moms and dads out there, too!