Saturday, October 13, 2012

Things English Teachers Notice

Or ECE teachers... or speech therapists...

Before I became a teacher - especially a teacher who works with long-term English Language Learners - there are few things I may have never noticed about my children's language development that I now find both fascinating and wonderful.

Penelope has become ever increasingly articulate. She discusses past events with (mostly) proper past tense (i.e. adding the 'ed' ending, she has some irregular verbs down, but not all), present events with present tense (sometimes confusing verb forms - like "I has" instead of "I have"), and future events with future tense (i.e. 'ing' endings).

She also has a significant number of her books memorized, so she "reads" them to us at night, which is both fun and absolutely adorable. I'll have to try and videotape it tomorrow.

She's also become more logical. She can see cause & effect (well, not all the time), and is getting better at solving problems - both simple and complex. She can spell some simple words, so Bryan and I have to be quick when we spell-talk. She's got her name down pat, can write it and spell it verbally. She can also spell "happy" and most of "birthday" (can you tell we have a lot of family with fall birthdays?). She's amazingly creative, draws free-hand recognizable objects and is almost as good coloring within the lines as I am.

I'm really looking forward to when she starts Kinder... I wish they would let her start next year, since I think she's ready. I've even gone over the new Kinder Common Core standards and she's got many of them down already. I know she's going to love school!!

Surprisingly enough, or perhaps, unsurprisingly (if you work in Education),  there are some striking similarities in what my daughter can do with language and what my students can do with language...

And the more I notice the similarities between my preschooler and my students, the more I am filled with both sadness and resolve. Resolve because I want to do everything I can to prepare my students for life outside of high school - not just college or the workforce, but also to buy homes, cars, or start businesses. And sadness because my almost 4 year old has a better command of proper tenses than some of my 16 year old students.

There are a lot of reasons why my long term ELL students struggle so much with grammar. The English language has some pretty weird grammar rules; it is one of the hardest languages to learn (no, really - check out this link!). Many of my ELL students only speak English at school, which limits the amount of practice they get (and, if you're one of those who say their parents should just "learn English already", please refer to the above link - then go live in Poland and learn how to speak Polish without access to language classes... if you're not willing to do that, then stop the nonsensical demands on people who don't have the resources to gain a full command of the language YOU can barely speak.)

ANYWAY, another reason many of my students do not have mastery of English is because we do not have the resources in place to really address language gaps. Teachers work as hard as they can, with the resources they have, to be as effective as possible. It isn't easy. It IS getting better though - a lot of the training I've received in the last year & change has made me a much more effective teacher, especially when it comes to addressing gaps in language acquisition.

I could go on - because there are many more factors that contribute to the language gaps between my ELL students and my English only students (although, to be honest, I see significant language deficiencies in many of my EO students. This is also due to a number of complex factors).

Regardless of how you slice it, there is a large number of children in California (and in the US) who will graduate from high schools with significant language gaps that will likely be detrimental to their economic prospects. And these gaps will likely be repeated in their own children.

Potty Training, part deux

I can't remember the last time I talked about potty training. I think it was last month... So I figured we're due for an update.

Penelope has been fully trained for almost a year. She started right before her 3rd birthday and was day trained in a few weeks, night trained 2 months after her birthday. I can't remember the last time she had an accident, but the child has a bladder like a steel trap. I'm pretty sure her bladder is larger than mine.

Griffin decided to start PT'ing midway through last month. Or rather, I sort of decided to start PT'ing. He had (yet another) rash and so we did undies at night, which turned into undies during the day. (Side note: while both kids did get the occasional rash when we were using cloth diapers, Griffin's rashes became much more frequent AND much more severe in disposables. Also? Diaper companies are increasing the size/visibility of the "dump the poop in disposables" notice on diaper boxes. Just another plug for cloth.)

The first week of PT'ing was a laundry-fest. We (meaning Bryan) did a load of laundry every day... the second week was much better. Third week we were having days with NO accidents (woot!) and this week has been quite good. The biggest challenge was getting him to poop on the potty - yesterday he finally told me that his "butt hurt" and then pooped on the potty. So I'm hopeful that in the next few weeks I'll be able to say that we're fully day-trained - possibly right around the time of his 2 1/2 "birthday" on the 16th.

He did wake up dry this morning, but I won't hold my breath for night-training anytime soon. Maybe after his 3rd birthday. But I am so happy to be done with diapers during the day.

This is one of the remnants of childhood that I will not be sad to see pass. Potty training and teething are two things that I can leave happily behind me, even as I mourn for other baby-related stages we won't see again.

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Penelope's Growth

6 years: 50 inches, 47 lbs
5 years: 48 inches, 42 lbs
4 years: 43.5 inches, 41.0 lbs
28 months: 39 inches, 33.1 lbs
26 months: 38.5 inches, 32.1 lbs
21 months: 37 inches, 31.8 lbs
18 months: 35 inches, 30 lbs
15 months: 34.25 inches, 28.8 lbs
12 months: 32 inches, 27.1 lbs
9 months: 30.5 inches, 25.1 lbs
6 months: 29 inches, 21.2 lbs
4 months: 28.5 inches, 17.13 lbs
2 months: 24.75 inches, 12.12 lbs
At birth: 20.75 inches, 7.15 lbs

Griffin's Growth

5 years - 3 feet 11.25 inches (47.25 inches), 51 lbs
3 years - 3 feet 5.25 inches, 40lbs
18 months - 34.5 inches, 27.13lbs
12 months - 32 inches, 26.5lbs*
10 months - 31.75 inches, 23.4 lbs
7 months - 29.25 inches, 21.4 lbs
5 months - 28.5 inches, 17.9 lbs*
4 months - 28 inches, 15.5 lbs
3 months - 27 inches, 13.10 lbs
2 months - 25.125 inches, ?? lbs
1 month - 24 inches, 10.13 lbs
At birth - 22.5 inches, 9.1 lbs
*with diaper

Izzy's Growth

2 months: 23.25 inches, 10.8 lbs
At Birth: 22 inches, 8.11 lbs