I cannot believe Dean is done with Kindergarten. This year has FLOWN by. While it got off to a semi-rocky start, we ended up having a pretty good school year. The amount of stuff he learned blows my mind. He had a young teacher, which I was excited about at first, then pretty unhappy about (due to some choices she made), then ok with in the end. Dean has always been reluctant to write. As a toddler, he hated to color. He tolerated coloring, drawing, and writing his name in preschool. He was a little reluctant at the beginning of Kindergarten, until they started doing a story journal where you (wait for it) got to use your imagination. You know, a big imagination is one of the things makes Dean so awesome. Once he started reading, he got more excited about writing. One thing that did make me happy (which is not a word I generally associate with my opinion of Common Core Curriculum) was that even his homework required at least SOME creativity. He loved nights when his homework instructed him to "Make up a story about this picture." We would study the picture, then brainstorm ideas about what might be going on before settling on five sentences that told our story. We told stories about ants around a swimming pool, a shark named Eli, a turtle named Turnip who had a brother, and lots more.
Dean is great at math. (Which is funny if you know me...) He can fly through a page of addition and subtraction problems. His daily work marks started improving drastically once they started doing actual math problems, not just random counting excercises. His teacher said he was probably bored with the rudimentary stuff, since he did a lot of that in preschool. (we had the BEST preschool.) I'm glad math "clicked" with him. Hopefully, that will make some parts of school more enjoyable for him.
He refused to eat cafeteria food. Instead, I got up at 5:30 most mornings to make and pack a thermos of macaroni and cheese, a string cheese, a Capri Sun juice pouch, and one other thing, because DO NOT put more than 3 food things in the lunch box! (I once put in a Starburst as a little treat and he got mad.) His school serves a fresh fruit or veggie snack out of the snack basket every day. When it was something he liked, he'd take something, other wise he'd stick with whatever I packed with his juice box in a zippy bag. Favorite choices included Gogo-squeeze (applesauce), fresh fruit, and yogurt raisins.
Socially, he had a great year. He made several good buddies, including his new best friend Lochlan. Lochlan's from the NY/NJ area and his mom is a pilates instructor with a degree in theatre. How hilarious that the two NY theatre kids found each other. He also has a friend named Casey, who is awesome because "She's a girl who knows about Skylanders!" He and his best bud from preschool, Elise, have remainded pretty tight, despite being in different classes. She joined our family at the end of school picnic. It was a blast to see these two, who met when they were 3, carrying on a "big kid" conversation.
Probably our best times this year have been associated with After School Care. I was extremely nervous about sending Dean to after care, but knew we really had no other choice. Turns out EVERYONE wants to go to after school care! It's like a little cool kids' club. He had a completely separate group of friends there than in his class, got to know some older kids, and had the best teachers looking after him. His pal Kate, who he's known nearly all his life, starting going in the spring, and the two of them made up games for the whole group to play. Most importantly, he met Kara. Kara is a Kindergartener who has Down Syndrome. She's the first person with Down Syndrome Dean has ever met. With no prompting, he took up with Kara, making sure she always got to participate when she wanted to, helping her up and down steps and playground toys, helping take care of her if she was upset, and generally, being super sweet to her. She adores Dean, and though she doesn't talk much, she screams his name every time she sees him. We could not be more proud of his behavior. He received a special award during the last week of school for compassion and kindness. That means the world to Marcus and me.
His energy and sense of humor continue to amaze me, and I can't wait to see how much he continues to grow and learn over the summer.
Bring it on , 1st grade. We're ready.