First Grade is a big deal
First grade academics
No matter how you slice it, first grade is a big deal to
any kid, or person for that matter. In first grade you have a whole
day of academics, safety drills, hot lunch, girlfriends, after school
clubs, and homework.
In first grade you suddenly have an academic curriculum or lesson
plans to focus on for hours of the day, instead of just play, which is
just as important, just different. Suddenly your learning comes
out of the mouth of a person and requires your attention in a way a
tactile experience doesn’t. You need to use more of your listening and
visual skills and fewer of your hands on skills.
When we are having dinner or just cruising around my son wants
us to test him on his First grade math skills. It doesn’t matter if it
is adding or subtracting, he likes the challenge. In addition to the
first grade math lessons, there are the first grade reading and
writing lessons. First graders need to develop their knowledge
of site words, which are the words that cannot be sounded out because
they are exceptions to the pronunciation rules. Words like she, them, sentence,
etc… The first graders just have to spend the time committing these site words to
memory, which is often done as homework.
First Grade Testing
With this increased academic focus comes testing. For the first time first graders are tested to see how they compare to the "average." They begin to wonder how they performed on quizzes. My son took one of his first spelling tests last week and now takes the time to hope for a good grade. First grade is just the beginning of noticing and keeping tabs on one's performance.
First Grade Bells and Drills
In addition to first grade academics come all sorts of bells and drills. There is the bell that says school is about to begin. The bell that says you are about to go outside and the same one that says come back inside. Some smart person developed this bell system to control millions of people, that has been hugely successful. Of course, there are the bells for fire drills and now there is a drill for lockdowns. Since the situations in Columbine and Virginia Tech, they now have kids practice squeezing as close together as possible under their desks in case someone crazy is in the building. It is amazing hearing a six year old explain the concept of a lock down, which used to be only for prisons.
As a first grader, when you are not in class or responding to a drill, there is hot lunch. They get to pick their own food without a parent making any suggestions or comments. For the most part my son thinks the food at school is fabulous and has suggested I ask for the country chicken recipe. He is always hoping to expand my repertoire and build my culinary skills.
Children Walking to school
First Grade Girlfriends
Between the academics, drills and clubs, there is a new social component that comes with first grade, girlfriends. Granted kids may have girlfriends before first grade, but they seem comfortable with the concept at this age. My son informed me that he has many girlfriends (good for him). As the conversation progressed, he let me know that many of his male friends share these same girlfriends and that the girls do not actually know they are their girlfriends.
To my surprise, my son told me I was hot, which is funny coming from a six year old that clearly has no idea what he is saying. He went on to say he thought I probably could get a boyfriend to which I said that his Dad is my boyfriend. He said no Dad is your wife (he doesn’t know the difference between husband and wife although I have tried to explain) and not your boyfriend. I asked if he thought it was ok to have a husband and a boyfriend at the same time and he thought absolutely. Pretty funny hearing his impressions of the world as a first grader. Do not think he is ready to move out and get his own apartment until he develops a greater understanding for relationships.
First Grade After School Activities
After school has more to offer. Kids can join the chess club, do an art class, play t-ball for a few weeks, learn hip-hop dancing, join pre-scouting clubs, karate, biking, and or basketball to name a few possibilities. No doubt, your first grader can study an instrument and probably learn opera singing somewhere, which means there are plenty of ways to spend more money and time.
Kids hugging a tree
First grade might be the most important elementary year
First grade is full of new experiences everyday which form the foundation from which every child will proceed. In this first year of elementary school, they will either develop an interest for school and reading, or not. It is critical for all parents to be as involved as possible at this stage in the child rearing game.
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