Monday, September 29, 2008

Week 5: Yes, another entry in the K-12 saga.

Thanks all for your suggestions on motivating Rosie. We have some action! plans! underway which I'll describe (eventually). After receiving that message from Rosie's teacher 2 posts (and weeks) ago, we were informed that the very next day Miss M. had been hospitalized (blood clot in brain--Yikes!). There is a substitute in place, but she may not be back in the classroom for possibly a month or more (Rosie painted her a lovely get well card). I left a few VM messages to the assistant and an email during the week to find out some details on Rosie's situation with the classwork, but didn't get any feedback. Until this past Wednesday.

On Wednesday, she was sent home with a large folder packed full of unfinished assignments, all coloring/cutting/glueing projects, each with a sticky note indicating the date that the assignments were to be returned. Oh, and a ziplock bag with a couple locks of HER OWN HAIR inside. WTF?? No explanation.

After leaving a freaked-out message with the school's office staff on Thursday, I finally talked with the substitute, Mrs. S, who had been substituting for one week at this point. She gave me this information:

"Rosie is distracted and unfocused. She hasn't finished a single assignment since the first week of school. When she is working, she leans forward so far, her nose is practically touching the paper. When she isn't working, she is fiddling with her hairband, her jewelry, her buttons, her chair. We would appreciate it if you didn't send her in with hairbands or jewelry. She ignores authority and refuses to work any faster no matter how we present the assignments."

When I asked about the hair, I was told that "she was working alone, separated from the other children in hopes that would eliminate distractions. When we discovered she had cut her hair, she told us that 'it was in the way.'" They had taken her hairband away...

The good news is that on Wednesday evening, we had a heart-to-heart with Rosie on how important finishing work is in the Kindergarten environment. Her preschool didn't mind if she wasn't engaged, but in Kindergarten, she is learning how to develop skills and habits she'll need to be a good student. On Thursday afternoon, she was sent home with "Terrific!" and "Nice Job!" on the assignments that she finished that day. Hooray! Progress.

Even so, that evening, getting Rosie to focus was almost impossible. We set her up at my craft table in the basement while I worked on the computer, but she would only color for a few seconds before announcing, "I'm done." It didn't help that Dash was watching cartoons in the next room.

Here's what we did:
Gave her a place to work. Her room is cluttered and distracting and there isn't a place for her to work. Friday, I went to the Container Store and bought the desk piece for her Elfa shelving (I've been meaning to do this for years). I also picked up several bins for her to stash all her stuff in.

Eliminated distractions. We declared that this would be a no-TV weekend, until she finished her assignments. No going to the pool, or playdates, or games as well.

Gave her a haircut. No explanation necessary. :-)

All Saturday, in between visiting Grandma Ikiko, ballet class, going to a work-BBQ, and helping Rosie along, I set up her room. I dumped out all her random toys and put them in the new bins, moved her old craft desk into Dash's room, and set up the new Elfa desk. The room looked pretty freaking cramped by the time the desk was in (the door won't open up all the way, for example), so I had to make further adjustments on Sunday.

Sunday, I moved her bed and wardrobe-closet to opposite sides of the room. I installed shelves to get items off the floor. I moved her largest toys down to the basement. Auntie M and I took Granddad Jim out with the kids for an after-lunch outing in Old Town (it was his birthday last week), and I finished up when we got back. By the time dinner came around, everything was done. Rosie's first few assignments were complete, her room was rearranged (hopefully easier for her to de-clutter on her own!), and she got to watch a TV show. I got to have a drink. Nothing else got done this weekend. No laundry, no dishes, no shopping, no maintenance.

Oh and by the way, Sunday was our 11th wedding anniversary. What did Monkeyrotica and I do to celebrate? Clink our wine glasses together over dinner (that he cooked) while the kids watched Spongebob. Happy Anniversary, baby! I hope we are getting the message through to Rosie: we do care and her schoolwork is important to us. She is a sweet little girl and this is new ground for all of us.


  1. The schoolwork motivation saga never really ends :-) That's why I posted last week about loving my son's schools' online grade book. Pure genius and keeps me in the loop daily as to how to keep him on time with his home work. Parenting is such a roller coaster ride!

  2. Christina, I'll have to go check out your post (Google Reader only shows a line or two of your entries, so I can't always read the whole item)!

    The toughie here is that Rosie has 45 minutes to finish these 1-page assignments in class. They aren't assigning homework and all the other kids are finishing.

    I don't know where this rollercoaster is taking me!!


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