Claire finished second grade on Thursday. How did that happen? One minute, there was a month of school left, and the next minute it was over.
It was a good year for Claire. She loved her teacher, loved her school routine, loved riding the bus home, and loved her school friends. Second grade was a fun year, but with hints of growing up. I think of it as the beginning of “the later Ramona years”, where Ramona is maturing past the silly little kid she once was and moving into new challenges. (Molly is in the early Ramona years.)
Academically, Claire started the year still struggling a bit with basic reading and ended the year strong, tackling big chapter books. She learned to methodically attack challenging words and was coasting through works like “business” and “experiment” by the end of the year. She also conquered speed math (doing basic addition and subtraction quickly) and addition with 3, 4, and more digits. As a challenge, I would sometimes have her add up two really big numbers like 465,777 + 261,222, which she handled with ease. This is a long way from struggling with 9 + 7 just a few months before.
This progress was due to Claire’s hard work and her teacher’s strong dedication. Claire was invited to join two before- and after-school “clubs” lead by her tireless teacher, who had adopted a baby mid-year. Handwriting club was two days a week before school, and math club was one day a week after school. Claire loved handwriting club because it was “cozy” being in the quiet classroom before most of the kids had arrived. She loved math club because her friend Susie was also in the club, and Claire usually got to go to Susie’s house afterwards to do homework and play and hopefully get a Slurpee.
On her report cards, Claire’s teacher praised Claire’s work ethic as “working hard on her handwriting and spelling” and “becoming more confident with continual math practice.” She also focused on Claire’s story telling. “Claire is a lovely story teller. She continually wows me with her word choice and plot development. She is engaged in class discussions and makes fascinating connections.”
The main challenge this year was homework, which was about an hour of reading, spelling, and math. Claire seemed to really enjoy her in-school work but often struggled and railed against homework. Sometimes she would complain openly, but more often she would just procrastinate and lollygag as long as possible. I think by this time of day, Claire was tired and felt she had already done her honest day’s work and should be able to just unwind and relax. This may be Claire’s first real lesson in growing up — yes, you should be able to relax now, but sorry, you had stuff to do first. Welcome to the club. Homework had to be finished in the narrow time between the end of Claire’s school day and when we picked up Molly at 5:15, or else it got pushed to either immediately before or after dinner, both stressful times to squeeze in that extra burst of brain focus before calling it a night. Basically, 3:00 to 7:00 was a tough time of day for everyone, with homework, finishing up work, picking up Molly, making dinner, cleaning up dinner, starting baths all sort of at the same time.
The homework issue got better over the year, and eventually our afternoons were improved dramatically thanks to the new after-school nanny we hired towards the end of the year. More on that in another post.