Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spelling bee

I know I've bragged on my kids on this blog a lot. Okay, a real whole lot. I've talked about how they love to read and how great they are and generally said all the nauseating my-kid-is-so-damn-smart stuff.

Both of my girls are smart and I'm not going to be modest and say that it all came from their father's DNA, because I'm intelligent too. Alas, that geek I married is smarter. So much so that, in college, when we would take a class together outside our respective majors, he'd always, always, motherfucking always get a half a grade higher than me.

Here's what would go down: We'd go to class together. I'd pay attention and take diligent notes. He'd sit there, thinking I-don't-rightly-know-what. Occasionally, he'd write something in his notebook. Like a word or maybe a phrase. In between classes, I'd study hard, do the homework, blah blah blah. When it came time for the exam, I'd study for hours, while he'd glance over his crappy notes the evening before. When the grades were posted at the end of the semester, invariably, I'd have an A and he'd have an A+.


But, if you're going to marry someone and have children, you might as well marry someone smart enough to ensure that your children don't have to ride the short yellow bus to school.

(Please tell me someone other than my mother and sister-in-law got that reference.)

So, Pete's DNA and mine combined to make some smart kids.

Graceful is damn smart. So much so that it's scary at times. Here I've got this tall, leggy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter AND she's also got long thick black eyelashes AND she's intelligent.

So Graceful excels academically, which I guess is something of an understatement.

She started kindergarten at almost-age-six reading books with chapters and, by the beginning of first grade was reading at a sixth grade level.

One of her particular strengths is spelling, which she gets from both of us. (Reminder to self: spell check this entry before I post it.)

In our school, the way spelling words work is that at the beginning of the week, the teacher tests everyone on the same words and whomever aces the test gets a higher level of words while the rest of the class studies the easier ones.

In first grade, Graceful had an even higher level of words than the higher level and, after a couple of months, the teacher and I agreed that it was pointless to even bother, so Graceful spent the rest of year working on other projects during spelling time.

In second grade, Graceful again always had the higher level of spelling words. We never suggested to the teacher that Graceful be exempt from spelling time again, because the girl is eventually going to encounter some words she can't spell, she might as learn how to study in the meantime.

Now we're in third grade and I'm a bit perturbed. Graceful is again being given the higher level of words and I'm trying to figure out when the students regressed a couple of years, because the words are ridiculous. Here's a partial list: broken, cousin, gallon, heaven, bargain, cotton, stolen, violin, etc. Graceful had those in kindergarten and aced them then.

I wouldn't care so much except that Graceful's homework every single day involves doing something with these damn words. Sorting them by sound, defining them with an illustration, having me call them out to her, etc. Graceful now hates homework because she's so fucking bored.

(Oh, and the teachers admitted at Back To School Night that they give homework more to get the kids in the habit of doing homework than for any other reason. Great, thanks a lot. Because we parents really have time for this nonsense.)

So I'm trying to decide if I should ask the teacher to bump it up a notch with the spelling words. I don't want to be one of THOSE parents, but I also would like it if my girl were challenged a bit in school.

Thoughts, anyone?


nina said...

When I worked with children in special ed (middle schoolers), they called the "short yellow bus" the "cheesewagon."

If Graceful is acing her spelling tests, I think you could ask her teacher about bumping up the words or at least ask if the words were going to get significantly harder.

The Guider said...

I think you need to ask for the words to be bumped up, otherwise where's the point?

K's spellings are too easy right now but they've only been back at school a couple of weeks, I think the teacher is trying to adjust to the levels within the class. I'll keep an eye on it because it's a waste of her time and of mine to practice words she can already spell.

Anonymous said...

Being bored at such a young age is not good and she probably needs to be given much more difficult work to do to engage her. I would go so far as to advocate for her to be promoted a grade if she is that far ahead in several subjects, even at the risk of any friendship/social issues. People learn at different speeds and slowing her down to meet some average is doing her a huge disservice. Also: the worst thing you can let happen is for her to get to a point where she considers learning boring; I would take her out of school before letting that happen.

Kristin said...

Is the teacher just doing review work for the first few week? It would seem appropriate to point out to the teacher that the kids have already learned to spell "violin" and find out just what is her game plan.

Linda and her Surroundings said...

Give it a couple more weeks and if nothing seems to improve then say something. Be one of THOSE parents. When children get too bored they can be a bit naughty which is not fair to the child.

Josie said...

If by "be one of those parents", you mean the kind who give a sh*t about their kids education, then I would have to say you already are.
I have been one of those for years because WB is always bored by the time October rolls around. I give them the first month and then I start speaking up.
Your girls will thank you for it later on, I promise.