Pre-K Graduation

Dear Jackson,

I wish for you anything and everything that you ever want. I hope you dream the biggest dreams and that those dreams take you to the highest peaks of the most beautiful horizons. I hope that you never lose your desire to ask questions and that you keep smiling… always.

Kindergarten is a big deal. It’s the start of something special and there is no one more deserving of everything that kindergarten has to offer than you. I don’t know if I’m the perfect dad, I don’t even know if I’m a good dad, but i do know two things… number one: I know that I love you very much… and number two: I know you’re going to be and amazing kindergartener.

I love you, Jackson. Mom loves you and so does your brother. Keep smiling and most of all… just be you.

Congratulations on “graduating” preschool.

Love,

Dad

Oll-E > Wall-E

Both are pretty cute and they even sound the same

I’ve blogged about all the normal baby and toddler firsts… I’ve talked about cleaning nuclear-like diaper messes and first solid foods… I’ve written about bubble wrapping and baby gating the house for their first steps. Now don’t get me wrong those are all hugely significant moments in time, but they all pale in comparison to hearing you child speak their first words. I’ve been in educational for nearly 20 years… I’ve taught children to read, to multiply triple digit numbers and I’ve taught children how to explain their thinking, but teaching a child to speak… that’s just magical.

Parenting is just a series of events that makes you feel equally proud and sad… watching your child become more independent each and everyday makes your heart both swell with pride for the amazing little being you are raising and also makes your heart long for the days when your baby needed you for everything. Like Elton John said, “it’s the Circle of Life” (I’m not sure if that analogy works here, but it sounds good so if you don’t mind, please just roll with it).

Listen, becoming mobile matters, it’s a huge step (pardon the pun) in the growth and development of a child. Learning to talk… to have a reciprocal conversation… is like the when the caveman first discovered fire, or first time you realized you didn’t have to actually flip open a cell phone to use it. It’s a game changer

Oliver has been saying words for a bit now… some much more clearly than others. But to hear him say his own name… I don’t know why… it was really cool. It was special. I know he has asked for juice when he’s wanted it and I’ve heard him yell, “dog” when Buster and Max were being naughty, but this… saying his name… I feel like it transforms him from a parakeet to a real person. I’m not sure why (especially since he was literally repeating his name), but just stay with me here… it’s my blog so I can write whatever I want.

Talking is transformative, getting to a point where you’re child knows his name, can say his own name and can string a word or two together changes an entire parent-child relationship I’m just hoping we are getting to the point where we can get a response from Oliver when ask him, “why are you screaming and what was the purpose of throwing yourself on the ground just now?”

But for now… I’ll take the slow and steady progress, even if he sounds like that robot WALL-E when he talks!

The Life of a Dinosaur

Today we celebrated Jackson “stepping up” from Pre-K3 to Pre-K4. All the kids were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Jackson’s response:

Doctor, lawyer, teacher, professional athlete… nope… A.Freaking.Dinosaur!!! This kid is setting the bar high. Never lose your dinosaur buddy… don’t ever lose your dinosaur.

Check out when we first realized Jax wanted to grow up to be a dino…

https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2017/11/19/never-lose-your-dinosaur/

Homework, Homework, Homework


It’s unreal how fast time goes by. It’s also extremely funny how life constantly repeats itself, or at least come full circle.  As an educator for almost 20 years I’ve been involved in my fair share of home work controversies.  Either too much, or too little… not clear enough directions or not enough time to complete.  As an elementary schiol principal I see how some homework policies of the past are outdated and as a parent I see how there is a need for more clarity around what is expected from the children and what is expected from the parents.

Homework these days is a controversial topic.  It’s like politics, no matter the side you’re on, you vehemently disagree with the other.  As an educator I have read pages of research, fevoeeed surveys and observed and reviewed my own teachers’ homework expectations, assignments and procedures.  I believe homework should be designed to emphasize quality tasks aligned with curricular objectives, have a clear academic purpose, and be relevant and engaging to students.  It shouldn’t be busy work and definitely shouldn’t be a chore for parents, or cause stress or anxiety to the students.

As a parent of child with particular strengths and areas of particular need I completely understand the why it’s so important to create assignments that allow for accommodation of varying student needs and how providing the appropriate resources is vital for student success.  Homework, even for my little three year old should be differentiated, as it should be for all learners with variety and choice.

The big piece for me… something I feel is crucial to making homework an effective keening tool is the “feedback and use of the homework as an assessment of and/or for leaning.  Is what my so  is being asked to do going to support his goals and objectives and also support his growth and development towards mastering grade level standards as homework should be designed as means to assess on going learning.

The Roles of Parents/ Guardians has spawned conversations in educational board rooms and social media platforms for years.  For ages, parents have questioned how they are supposed to balance unstructured time with their children when they work all day, go to sports practice, piano lessons and then still have hours of homework. But honestly what should the role of a parent be in the homework process.  I always tell my parents at school, “let us do the heavy lifting. Let us do the teaching during the day. We want you to just enjoy your time with your child.  Spend time together and love reading.” I want  parents to serve as a support to students and not have to  teach new skills.

As learning styles and needs vary between students, so should that of what we ask our students to do for homework. Teachers should be purposely planning their assignments including the accommodation of varying student needs and resources as well as their current academic strengths and areas of need.  This includes assignments that are differentiated for all learners with variety and choice with the expectation that teachers are using homework as means to assess on going learning and that students are receiving feedback will be timely and specific.

With that in mind, I was exciting to work on Jackson’s first homework assignment/project.  As the students are working on communication skills and the identification of “self” Jackson was asked to create a sign that depicts the things he likes.  (I may or may not have broken a few rules and done a few parts of the project myself)… but then again he’s three… he can’t hold scissors yet let alone cut with them.  I think his poster shows off his varying likes and also is a good support for him when he is communicating those likes to others.  Hopefully, homework assignments in the future are as fun as this was to do!

First Day of PREK 3 – TAKE 2

What happens when you wake up the first day of school and you have a fever and are puking all day?  You don’t go to school and lay on the couch with your best friend all day that’s what.  
Poor little guy was sick all day and night.  The sadness on his face as the “boosebus” drove by and he couldn’t get on 😢.  

But, don’t worry we carry on. So today 9.1.17 was  the First Day of School: Take 2.

First Day of PREK 3

As I walk downstairs, still dark and quiet in the house, I see the little setup for Jackson’s big day. I can’t help But struggle between a smile and tears. To think that he is beginning his first full year of preschool is both scary and satisfying. It represents such an accomplishment for this little guy. The growth he has shown in his development is a mark of his determination and ability to overcome any obstacle in his way. 

I can’t help but think of some of the difficulties we have faced over the past three years and how hard he’s worked to continue to be better each day at whatever he does. As an educator I remind myself it’s not about being the best at everything, but more importantly about the growth and development that our children show every day.

Good luck on your first day of preschool… I know you’re going to do great things.  

Dad’s 1st day and Jax’ first day:

First day bookbags

The Only Thing we Have to Fear is Fear Itself- (Not True)

There was this feeling of dread, like one of those deep pits in your stomach as you take your first few steps into a haunted house. Even if it’s only for a second, its still there. That feeling like you know something is might go wrong, but you just can’t figure out what it is. 
Only I new what was wrong… I knew exactly why I felt that way. I knew I hated the idea and yet knew it was in his best interest. Even still, walking though the door and having to be buzzed in, put me on the other side of the fear that goes through every parent’s mind as they leave their child in the care of someone else. 

My mind slowly began to shift from dad mode to administrative mode… The words flowed from my lips like water from a hose… “What is your security procedure for entering the building?” “Do you practice fire drills and lock down drills.” How often do you check that your doors are locked?” “Are your staff members trained in CPR/First Aid?”  

A reassuring look from the wife told me I needed to take a deep breath and listen to what the woman had to say. Problem is, I didn’t care what she had to say. I could find fault with Mother Theresa if she was sitting across from me explaining how she would care for my child.  

I wasn’t happy with the “curriculum” (he’s one), I didn’t like knowing he had to nap later than he usual does (kids at my school learn to do it without any problem), I was completely enraged when I saw the back door wide open (mistakes happen and become a learning experience). Again, I wasn’t happy because I don’t think I wanted to be happy.  

You’ve heard the horror stories… Kids getting fed mass quantities of NyQuil to shut them up, people picking up the wrong kids, kids being abused… Hell I work in a school named after a student who was tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I know the dangers, I work tirelessly everyday to ensure the safety of the children in my building as if they were my own. 

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I know too much; I’ve seen too much on my end to allow myself to relax. Then again, I don’t want to think I’ve left any stone unturned when it comes to Jackson.  

Im an educator of young children; I have been my entire life. I have convinced numerous parents the benefits of early childhood education, if not for the academics than simply for the social skills and language development that is gained from being surrounded by peers. I have studied research on the brain and philosophies of how young children learn. I can rattle off the increased background knowledge and character development that students gain from structured social interactions away from their parents. I’ve seen first hand parents who are were just like me before the school year started and convinced them we would take care of their most precious possession in the world. 

Yet still…

That feeling of dread that permeated throughout my entire body that day, only increases as the we creep closer to the possibility of leaving Jackson at a daycare facility. (Even just typing that caused a knot in my stomach). It could be for 1/2 a day once a week… I’m still not sure I’m going to be OK with this.