Wednesday, October 8, 2008

who's in first?

pooka really enjoys school, except for the getting out of bed part. she likes her teacher, most of the kids, buying lunch, riding the bus, and the work. except the work is too easy.

she brought home some reading books one day and i internally ridiculed the difficulty level. okay, not so internally. pooka agreed with me and i let her send an email to her teacher. this sparked a somewhat defensive response from said teacher. i had to apologize and smooth things over to let her know we weren't questioning her teaching skills or planned curriculum. however, we do hold pooka to some high standards and we expect her to be challenged at school lest she become bored and get into trouble.

at the same time this discussion was taking place, the principal sent home a letter informing us that the first and second grade classes were crowded enough that they had decided to skim kids from each class and create a blended class. parents were asked if they wanted their children put into the blended class. assuming that the work might be more advanced, kisu and i jumped at the chance to put pooka there. the current teacher agreed with us. when we asked pooka if she would like to go, she responded, "i need the more challenging work."

there was much email communication with the teacher and the principal. the whole process, as the parents saw it, took a week. monday they informed and we requested. wednesday there was an informational meeting (which we couldn't make, of course, because of this cursed commute), thursday was selection day, and the following monday the first day of the new class.

to notify parents if their child was selected they sent home a smiley face postcard. kisu said it was like trying out for football: your locker had a red ribbon or a green ribbon to let you know if you made the team.

of course, pooka was selected. she was very excited and we were extremely proud. not only that she was able to handle the change and the potentially difficult work, but that she was looking for that challenge. in our younger years, kisu and i would both have said thanks but no thanks. why should i work hard when i can coast and still get by? nowadays, our attitudes have changed (in some respects) but we are thankful that pooka is showing a more eager approach to education than we did.

she is technically still in first grade, and the principal has said that at the end of the year she will progress to second. the curriculum in her class, however, is supposed to be more individualized than in the others (a blend of montessori and public schooling?), so we are hopeful that, if the situation warrants, there will be testing to determine her appropriate place for next year.

some people would caution against children skipping grades as it can lead to social awkwardness, but i don't foresee any problems. pooka is already one of the oldest kids in her grade, thanks to a late birthday, but she is also a very mature kid. even before the medical situation that forced her to associate with grownups 99 % of the time, she was mature for her age.

she is now in her second week in the blended class and is doing well. they do split the kids up for the special activities, like computer lab and gym, but otherwise they mix together. there's not really that much difference between first graders and second graders, anyway.

now, if only we could figure out how to get her to wake up pleasantly in the morning...