Monday, June 10, 2013

First Grade

JAM has completed another year in elementary school and by the looks of this 116 degree weather, summer has arrived in full force. I don't know about JAM, but first grade was definitely a different experience overall compared to Kindergarten (P.S. You can read my tips for kindergarten here). I mean, yes, I expected to have a different experience since first grade would be his first "real" elementary school grade with actual homework, subjects, and testing. However, there was a lot of unexpected stuff that occurred throughout the year. I could ramble on for days on crazy things that happened, but here's my overview on JAM'S year in first grade and what I learned:
1. JAM convinced me to let him ride the school bus for the first time. I was completely against it not only because of what happened in kindergarten, but also because that meant releasing the reigns a little bit and trust a stranger of a bus driver to take care of my most prized possession. Long story short, it ended up becoming convenient for me to not have to drive him to school every morning and JAM had fun sitting with his BFF on the bus. The yellow school bus is something kids looked forward to when starting school!

2. A lot can happen in a short 10 minute bus ride to school. JAM got bullied twice on the bus and all I could see was RED once I found out. (2a) FYI even though schools promote all this anti-bullying stuff sometimes that isn't enough. YOU are your child's voice. If mama bear didn't raise hell in the school to get the situation resolved, my kid would have ended up being another invisible bullying statistic. SPEAK UP and FIGHT for your child's safety. It doesn't mater the area you live in or how fancy the can be cruel anywhere.
3. Sometimes I have to remind myself that certain life experiences are a first for JAM. He's never had to deal with unfriendly kids really so I have to be patient and teach him the difference between a friend who's joking around and an unfriendly child who is taking advantage of him. With that said, sometimes I have to just step back and I guess you can say, let him get hurt so he learns. As long as he's not getting hurt physically of course. This also gives me an opportunity to teach him other life lessons like everyone isn't always your friend and that's ok. It happens and it's definitely not your fault. Here's how you handle it.....etc. etc.
4. No matter how much communication you try to achieve between you and the school and/or teacher, sometimes the best route is always in-person communication. Many things didn't seem to get executed until I was physically present to make sure it got done. It's a pain, but sometimes it's necessary.
5. Volunteering is still a great thing to do for your child. Not only do they love it, you become a familiar face around the school and there are definitely benefits to that.
JAM and I are ready for his Fall Festival!
6. This year JAM had a lot on his plate from school to religion classes to soccer practice to just trying to be a kid....sometimes mom has to make executive decisions to make sure certain things stay #1 on the list.
7. JAM has always been a bright student but first grade was a little different for him. Parents are a child's number one teacher. They can only learn so much at school so most of it MUST be reinforced at home. His teacher gave him a lot of independence in the classroom as far as when to complete certain assignments and he tended to slack off a bit. Creating a visual like a white board or a chart at home helped him see what he needed to get done at school and the benefits of completing it. Learning responsibility and independence was a big thing this year. People at school aren't hovering over their shoulders as much as they were in Kindergarten so it's important to check-in with them every so often to make sure things are still getting done.
8. JAM picked up a lot of not-so-great behavior from his peers at school. There was a lot of reminder this year of what the morals and values of OUR family were and why we choose to live by them. Again, these are first time life experiences for him, but it still needs to be nipped in the butt right away.

and just like that...from August to June.....we were all done.
*sigh* I can't believe my baby completed another year in elementary school! Where has the time gone?! Every year I cry a little inside as we complete his school scrapbook. Mahal and I just give each other this stare when JAM hands us the paperwork to enroll him for the following school year. JAM finished the year receiving awesome academic awards! His favorite subject is math (he definitely didn't get that from me hehe) so it was no surprise that he earned an award in that, as well as in writing. He also received an award for perfect attendance for the whole year and was 1 of 10 first graders to receive an award for straight A's for the whole school year! Because of his straight A's he made the honor roll and received a letter from President Obama and a Presidential award. How awesome is that?! Another year gone and 2nd grade on the way. We're trying to cherish these moments every chance we get, but whether we like it or not, our big boy just keeps getting bigger. Bring it on 2nd grade! We're ready for ya! Until then, nothing but sunshine and swimming pools for the next 2 months.

What is a piece of advice you'd offer to fellow parents who have school-aged children?