Sunday, September 22, 2013

Advice please Mamas!

How much is too much for a Kindergartner? What exactly does his teacher expect? What is really normal for my kid to know at this point? Is it realistic for him to know 50 sight words by the end of this 12 weeks? Am I being unreasonable? Making excuses? Being a whinny mommy? Do I just need to push through and stay consistent in the current nightly homework torture?
Every night we have a small homework assignment and a book to read. On Thursday we pick a book out of the four read and do a little book report on it (mostly pictures on his end). That seems a little much, but it's not unrealistic. We just end up working a little through the weekend to give him two nights off during the week.
But then the sight words. Also known as the flashcards from Hell. The part of the night that almost makes my son cry every night. It makes me into a mean mom. I see his frustration when asked for the eight time to sound out the word "it".
Now, I lay 12 words out on the table. I say "Show me the word "it" Poof. He does it. I say show me the word "Green" bam. No problems. But stack those suckers up and ask him "What does this say?" and the flopping, flailing, and amnesia starts.
This is the kid that remembers directions 30 miles away from home. Knows north and south, east and west on highways from here to his grandparents house 3 hours away. Remembers every conversation, promise, schedule. Remembers that I have a promised chocolate bar in my bag. Is so observant it's ridiculous. Today in church he pointed out to his teacher that there was a kid that didn't belong in the class because everyone that was suppose to be in his class has a "Z" in their bar code and he had a different letter (yes, our church bar codes kids, add your own creepy comment __here___)  Can recall names, titles, movie lines, when we last ate tilapia for dinner. But can't say the word "It" after five weeks of flashcards. 
What is the disconnect? What am I doing wrong?
Is it a speech thing? A confidence thing? Side note: He is going to speech 2x a week at school. And has been receiving speech therapy since about 3 1/2.
Does anyone else out there think that this is too much? 5 weeks into school and my son (who has only been speaking ANY language, yet alone English, for two short years) gets an "N" on his progress report because he can't recall 50% of his sight words? What happened to "learning" in Kindergarten?
Am I being unreasonable? Is this normal? Has it just not clicked with him yet? Does every Kindergartner go through this learning curve? Help me out.
I just think about future reading assignments and it makes me want to throw up. Advice is much needed and appreciated....


  1. It's been a while since my boys were in kindergarten, but they didn't get any homework until january. And even then it was only to read one tiny easy book. Our kindergarten is still only half day here and probably needs to step it up a little bit. But it sounds to me that there are some pretty high expectations for Charlie's class. You can't force a child to read who isn't ready developmentally. But Charlie does seem so capable. Not sure if there is another cause. Have you tried making the flashcards a game or offering a reward? Some kids do shut down when the pressure is on. This may be difficult for him and in a way is digging his heals in :) Good luck!

  2. My advice, as an elementary school teacher with 39 years experience, is to continue to try6 to go with the flow. I would be especially happy that a kindergarten teacher is expecting high standards. Try to make the activities as fun as possible....maybe an m and m for each correct answer. Or a larger reward when a certain njumber of sight words are correctly identified. Schools and expectations have seemed to change so much in the last few decades. My 5th graders were presented with concepts that earlier had been part of the curriculum in junior high school and even high school!! I hope things work out!!

  3. 50 sight words is a little much for the first 12 weeks, first semester MAYBE. Camden in in Kindy and they haven't even started on sight words, but will be starting in the next few weeks. We only have homework 1 night a weeks, handwriting, right now they are learning letters and sounds, and cursive handwriting. Sight words come AFTER knowing all letter sounds. Is it private or public? Camden is in private and I think they are doing crazy hard things for only being in school for 4 weeks, just started week 5 today.

  4. It's pretty much the norm in our area. I agree to make it fun and reward for all positive results and encourage when the answer isn't correct. Keep it as fun and positive as possible. Remember that this is the foundation for all learning. Without reading, it's hard to learn any language.

  5. Well, Im not a mama, but I am a teacher. It does sound like a little much to me. Kindergarten is a time where there can be a big gap between students, because they are still getting used to school and such, as many of them it is their first time in school. My advice would be to focus on maybe 2 or 3 of the words a night, instead of all of them. I think this would help. I agree, that all those sight words seems like too much, especially this early in the school year. I am shocked he has that much homework. Honestly, as a kindergartner, they should really just be developing the basic skills of reading, aka, reading top to bottom, left to right, and recognizing common words (and, it, is, etc.). So as far as doing a book report in Kindergarten, that sounds absurd. But do stay persistent, it will help in the long run. But don't forget that he is still a kid. Also, work on a reward system. Such as, you say these 3 sight words, you get to watch TV for 30 min, then say the next 3 sight words, more tv for 30 min (or whatever time length you want). Hope this helps. I miss you and your family so much, and I hope I get to come visit soon! Hope you guys are doing well!

  6. I have one in K and one in 1st grade and experienced the same (both adopted from Russia 3 yrs ago). We found that a large part was the pressure they feel not to make a mistake (being right pleases you), being tired after a full day of learning time and the fact that every kid learns differently. They have homework even in K every night too which can be a bit much so we sometimes took clues from them and chose to skip a night...but when they were on a roll with wanting to try, we did extra. Our daughter was the same with the flash cards (give her a choice, she got it , one at a time she lost confidence in herself and could not do it even if we did the same thin 5x in a row. Now that she is in 1st grade, she is a different girl and love school. Be patient, give him lots of praise and you judge when he needs a break. What worked with her confidence is to remind her of all the things she did not know how to do but with her trying she learned ( riding a bike, using the potty, letters, sounds for each letter, numbers, etc.).

    Our son (her bio brother) is now repeating everything we struggled with her on. Since we now have "experience" we are not as stressed with him :)

    The other thing we realized is with the kids being adopted we worried about every indication of the kids struggling to learn was because of the prevalence of learning disabilities with adopted children. Sometimes the struggle is just the normal part of learning..... What helped me here is that I volunteered a few times in her class and observed her class. When I saw others had similar challenges with new concepts and that she was just like everyone else it helped us put things in perspective.