|All ready for KINDERGARTEN!|
This was a BIG year for Amelia. Kindergarten is so much more structured and academic than preschool is -- or than kindergarten used to be, for that matter. They actually had weekly spelling tests during the second half of the year!
|Photo with her sisters, who seem less than thrilled...|
At the beginning of the year, Amelia could identify all letters, and could write all of the uppercase letters, and most of the lowercase letters. She could spell her name and a handful of common short words, and knew what sounds most of the letters made, but was just beginning to sound out simple three- and four-letter words. She could identify most numbers between 1 and 20, but could only write a couple of them.
|On the long (two-and-a-half-block) walk to her new school|
The girl can straight-up READ, and has been able to for at least six months. She is undaunted by the length of words and the length of books, sounding out four- and five-syllable words with a speed that amazes me and tackling (picture) books of all lengths, from 20 pages to 60 pages. And she WANTS to read. All. The. Time. (It's awesome.)
|Finding her nametag and meeting her teacher|
She knows dozens of "sight words," and can indeed identify them instantly. She can write complete sentences, including proper capitalization and correct punctuation (most of the time). She knows the difference between long and short vowel sounds, and understands the role of the silent "e".
|Getting settled in her new classroom... with some old friends!|
And her math skills! Amelia can now count past one hundred -- by ones, by tens, by fives -- and can write out all of the numbers. She can read a math problem and then solve it using pictures and numbers. She can add one-digit numbers to one-digit numbers, to make either more one-digit numbers or (small) two-digit numbers. She can also subtract one-digit numbers from other one-digit numbers and (small) two-digit numbers.
It's seriously incredible. Thank goodness for awesome teachers!
Ramona has had a great school year, too.
|SO happy to be going to school!|
At not quite four, she has another year of preschool after this one, so for this pre-pre-kindergarten year, we had her in school just three mornings a week. She may have been happier going four or five mornings a week, though, since she was always bummed on the days that Amelia got to go to school but she didn't! Next year. :)
|Note that everyone seems more cheerful for Ramona's first day than they were for Amelia's.|
She has grown up so much this year. Where she might have had difficulty transitioning between activities at the beginning of the year (read: moving from an activity she was enjoying to one that she was less enthusiastic about), by the end of the year she was cheerfully picking up with her friends and getting ready for the next task.
|Walking the Freedom Trail to school... and peeking in the window upon arrival|
Ramona has also made some "academic" advances this year, moving from circling her name upon arriving at class, to filling in two or three missing letters in her name, to writing out her whole name. She can also now identify most letters, write about half of her uppercase letters pretty successfully, and tell you what sounds most letters make. She can count past 20, can identify several numbers, and can even write a few of them, but still needs help with identifying and writing most numbers.
|All signed in and ready to begin her day!|
Ramona will be returning to the same preschool next year, moving up to the (pre-kindergarten) Sea Turtle class, along with a handful of her current classmates, to join several kids from other classrooms. And she'll have the same teachers that Amelia had last year, which we are thrilled about because they are so wonderful.
Looking at these pictures from their respective first days of school reminds me of just how different these two girls are...
Amelia was super excited about her first day of kindergarten, but she was also REALLY nervous, and cried a little bit as we were dropping her off. (You'll notice that she's not really smiling in the pictures of her in her classroom.) To be fair, it was kind of a zoo. There were 22 kids in her class, plus 2 parents apiece for most of them, and many youngers siblings... Add in two teachers she didn't know and a new school, and it was just a little bit too much for my sensitive little girl! After we got her set up with some familiar faces at her table and gave her a couple of hugs, she was completely fine -- in fact, at bedtime that night, she whispered to me that she couldn't wait to go back to school the next day -- but it's a pretty accurate depiction of how Amelia often reacts to something new: reserved, a bit cautious, and in need of gentle coaxing and reassurances.
Ramona, on the other hand... I don't think that shy will ever be a word used to describe her! She trotted all the way to school on her first day, giggling the whole time, so pleased both to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones. After she got all signed in, she hugged us goodbye, but never gave us a second glance as we left. Again, to be fair, Ramona had attended the same school for a semester last year, and even had one of her old teachers again, but even so... She has no problem asserting herself in a roomful of people she doesn't know, and will chat up anyone -- the crossing guard, the guy ahead of us in line at Dunkin Donuts, the kid on the neighboring swing at the playground -- about anything -- her current favorite toy, the book she read last night, what she ate for breakfast, her cats... The possibilities are endless.
They are definitely different kids, but they do share the same attitude toward school: both LOVE it, and I hope they continue to enjoy it for a long, long time... Though hopefully not on our dime after college! :)