Back to School

The kids got grades from this term that was mostly online. Their grades were about the same, a little lower for some. But some other kids in their classes had much, much improved grades. Better than they’d ever earned before. 

Woo and I discussed how online school really was better for some kids.

Then the next day I was thinking about Archie and Nellpea’s dioramas of recyclables that were assigned before the return of school, but brought to school when they did.

Many of these were huge, cut precisely with an exacto knife, painted expertly and labeled neatly—clearly the work of an adult... far out of the range of any 2nd or 4th grader...

And it occurred to me that the kids in the older kids classes, who’d had such a sudden improvement in grades, had also had parental help.

When I mentioned this to Linus and Moses, they said that their teachers had agreed, saying things along the lines of, “Now that we’re all back in school, we’ll see what kind of grades you’re really earning...”

The kids were EXCELLENT during conference! Easily the best they’ve ever been! We had Linus raise his voice after one of the end sessions. Herbie and Ruby were disappointed about something Saturday night, that Herbie quickly got over, and Ruby immediately fell asleep (clearly wasn’t feeling her best).

But there was NO grouchiness, antsy-ness, distractions or irreverence. All kids sat quietly, took notes or drew pictures, and listened.

We have our conference tricks to help things along that we’ve learned through trial and error over the years. Three differences this year that I think all helped were very little sugar and snacking, the kids are simply older, and I added a 10 minute gratitude/repentance/pray-for-help-to-avoid-mistakes-of-the-day-before session in the morning (to complement the 10 minute session in the evening).

This last one seems to be helping Moses and Herbie especially, all the days.

I also had the best conference I’ve ever had. One family scripture study where our question was “how can I prepare for conference?” I learned that I needed to pray for humility, charity and faith while watching.

I did not realize that I had watched past conferences with a lack of humility, charity or faith, but clearly I did. I know that now.

Monday evening was our first late school night with Herbie, Moses and Linus returning to school. It was discouraging feeling all the old feelings and sensing Linus and Archie’s tiredness... here we go again...

Anyway, we did end up splitting our family scripture study. The kids all now have their own somewhat complicated morning study, and we chose the simplest, least disruptive change. Which is to feed everyone but Moses, repent, sing, scriptures, sing, and at that point Moses comes home.

Then we all say our family prayers together, Moses eats while we put younger kids in bed, then Woo and I go through everything Moses missed with him alone in our room. (Ruby will join him in another week when she goes back to school.) It’s too early to tell if it’s much better, because good sleep continues to elude us, but it's encouraging enough to continue.

All the kids had at least one night where they couldn’t get to sleep. Moses had several, then got himself wound into that hyper mode where it’s difficult to believe that you could or should sleep more. I’ve been there myself and it’s tough to break. I think that a lot of people must spend a lot of their lives there.

Anyway, behavior is the clue, and Moses is having a hard time calming down ever and is a bit paranoid that everyone is against him. Hopefully it breaks next week.

Herbie came home from school on Friday complaining that his eyes were funny. Woo and I have never had a migraine, but we know this is a sign that one is coming.

Herbie never complained of pain, but luckily he only had a half day of school and didn't need to go back because he got really confused and very suggestible. We suggested that he take a nap, and he rolled up in a ball at the bottom of Moses’ bed and fell asleep for a couple hours.

Woo had a few nights where he felt he didn’t sleep at all. Finally, Saturday morning he announced: I slept 8 hours!

Ruby had a relaxing week of online school, as the term ended before the break and her teachers didn’t assign any new work until they’d had class at some point during the week.

In her extra time she helped Archie deep clean his room, which was very nice, and she also started writing a story that she read aloud to Penelope and Archie a few times.

But by Friday evening school had caught back up with her, and she had a frustrating math test right before dinner.

Linus broke his glasses twice this week. Woo superglued them once. I taped them the second time. Neither lasted long.

Friday afternoon everyone was out of school (except Ruby and Moses), but too tired or meh or sick to leave the house, except Linus, who went on a walk with Woo.

This was kind of surprising because Woo likes to go on walks to look at waves, and Linus thinks looking at waves (and walks) are boring. But they had a good time in the middle ground: the dunes. Then we all had to go on Saturday.

When we walk or ride past the elementary school there are often kids outside playing and we try to wave and say hi to our kids. However Penelope NEVER sees us!

Woo had one frustrating encounter where he yelled and yelled Penelope’s name, and she either didn’t hear or kept looking up in the opposite direction.

This made no sense to Woo as he felt Penelope should recognize his voice and know what side of the school he would be on (the one where we live and always are), but maybe there was an echo?

Anyway, he had a few more situations like this until this week Penelope came home and Woo said, “Hi Penelope! I saw you at school, but I didn’t say anything because you never hear me anyway. Sorry.”

Archie got on a paper airplane kick, which was a lot of fun for him, but nearly impossible to get him to do or think about anything else unless the paper airplanes were confiscated.

Archie started the week with his old “I don’t like school. School is boring.” But slowly lost that train of thought in favor of telling me about all the games he and his friends play at recess.

Archie’s best friend (at least the one he talks the most about) is a little boy named Zé who is very happy and friendly. Zé’s dad always smiles and waves when we meet at the school as if we’re best friends, even though I’ve never once talked to him. It’s impossible to not smile and like people like that.

A favorite game is for Zé to be the king of China and Archie to be the king of America because those are the countries they’re from.

I discovered that most of our kids don’t know the pledge of allegiance, and this kickstarted Woo onto an enjoyable (to him) hour of pledge of allegiance research, where he read many versions and court decisions out loud to me. Also the pledge in Spanish (funny when you know one early version pledges not only one nation, but also one language).

So that’s our week. Hope yours was great!