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Three Cheers for Ruth! November 19, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Books, Parenting.
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Ruth started reading Three Cheers for Becky, a Barbie book, today, and she’s doing awesome!

This book is notable for her because of several things:

  1. It is a chapter book
  2. It has very few pictures
  3. It is worth 1 Accelerated Reader point – her first book to be worth that much

We are very, very proud of her.

Listen, my children October 31, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Parenting.
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On Monday, Ruth asked me to tell her a story before bedtime.  I couldn’t think of a good story on the spot, so I told her I’d tell her a poem instead.  This was perfectly fine with her of course, because it delayed turning her lights off.  I quoted her the following:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference.

She liked it because of the big words and the imagery (and because she has a certain penchant for poetry, I think).

On Tuesday before bedtime, she asked me to tell her another poem, so I told her I’d tell her a new one if she memorized the first one.  So she practiced a little and went to sleep.

Tonight (Wednesday), she informed me that she had stayed up late last night memorizing “Two roads” so that she could learn a new poem tonight.  I asked her to recite, and sure enough, she had it down.  This put me in the position of having to come up with a new poem on the spot – something I should’ve known I was going to have to do anyway.

I asked Mandi if she had any poetry books and she started looking through one for a poem for Ruth.  While she was doing that, I remembered that I had read “Paul Revere’s Ride” to Ruth back in August at Campmeeting and that she had really liked it.  I said, “Oh, Ruth, I just remembered the midnight ride of Paul Revere”.

“I already know that one,” she said.

“Well, I read it to you once at Campmeeting, but I don’t think you know it,” I said.

“No, I know it.”

“Ok, then, tell it to me,” I said.  “It starts like this, ‘Listen, my children, and you shall…’.”

Ruth said, “‘…hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.'”

Needless to say, Mandi and I just about fell over.  I had to confess to Ruth that I was wrong and that she did, in fact, know the poem.  So, I went in the other room to find my book that had that poem in it, and when I was out of the room, Ruth told Mandi, “Oh yeah, I remember the rest of it now: ‘…hardly a man is now alive’.”

We were both flabbergasted.  I suspect Ruth is a genius.  If so, I’d claim dibs on being the one she got it from.  🙂

Pledge to the Texas Flag September 7, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Drollery, Parenting.
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Not everyone knows the Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas Flag, so it is fortuitous that we now have a kindergartener learning it for the rest of us.  Here is what she recited for me tonight:

I pledge alleedance to thee, Texas, one nation over God, one and invisible.

Follow up from “Exemplary schools” post September 5, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Education, Parenting.
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This morning over breakfast, I was still thinking about my post from last night on the concept of “exemplary” meaning that 1 in 10 students cannot make 60% on a basic skills test for their grade level.

At breakfast, I asked Ruth a paraphrase of the question that I pulled from the TEA’s website for 3rd grade math:  Which of the following has the most sides – circle, square, triangle, or octagon?  Ruth said, “Octagon.  It has 8 sides, like a stop sign.  Ask me a harder one.”

Keep in mind that she’s on her second week of kindergarten, not finishing her 3rd grade year.

Ruth’s first book July 10, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Parenting.
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Ruth finished her first book today!  We are very proud of her, and she is very proud of herself.  She got to go to the bookstore today and pick out a new book as a surprise.  Tell her how proud you are of her next time you talk to her.

Kindergarten pre-game concerns July 10, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Education, Parenting.
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With our first kid merely weeks away from beginning kindergarten, I have begun to try to imagine what she is going to encounter in school.  Though I know she’ll do fine in school, both academically and socially, I have some concerns, mainly surrounding the things I have not seen over the last several years.  For example:

  1. I’m not close to a single other family that shares my views on education and the methods and importance thereof.
  2. Despite living and working in a highly-educated, tech-savvy, university town, I hear very little discussion among parents on topics related to academic achievement.
  3. When parents do talk about school, typically, the conversation is usually more centered on special programs, fundraisers, or athletic events that are peripheral to academics.
  4. Despite working at one of the largest technology employers in Austin for nearly ten years, I never personally saw a school representative inquire about things like field trips, guest lecturers, or career-focused curriculum development.  Note, we at the company did a tremendous amount of outreach and the schools were always happy to have it – I just never saw that initiative coming from the schools themselves.
  5. Few parents – even educated professionals – seem to place more than nominal value on knowledge.  In the past two days, I’ve had coworkers chide me (goodnaturedly, of course) for being able to divide 16 by 25 in my head and for using the word “née” in conversation. 
  6. I’ve never heard anyone outside of the school system express pride in their school being “Recognized” or “Exemplary” by the state.

It is not fair to our kids or to their teachers to go in to school thinking that it is not going to work, and I do not think this way.  I do think, though, that evidence of complacency and apathy of education shows in the priorities that people have.  When the most educated people I’m around on a day to day basis deprioritize academics, it makes me wonder what school will be like where a purer cross section of educational levels is represented.

For our soon-to-be-kindergartener, I don’t worry about the academic or social concepts she’ll learn in school – I worry about the opportunity cost of what she could be learning, but doesn’t, because the environment is one that either values education less than I do or prioritizes it lower than I do.

Thoughts on reading and rewards July 8, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Books, Education, Parenting.
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Reading has been on my mind a lot lately, especially a Ruth is starting to read more on her own and as we have the first day of school quickly approaching.  I have a semi-formulated (or semi-unformulated, depending on our outlook) plan for creating some structure and incentives around reading at home.


Whom do you believe? July 2, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Parenting.
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Here’s a new study that found that children begin to lie as young as 6 months:


This reminded me of one of Mandi’s experiences with another mom when the other mom’s kid – I think 4 or 5 years old at the time – denied something that Mandi actually saw him do.  The other mom told Mandi that she believed his story over hers, saying, “My kid is at an age where he always tells the truth, so I have to believe him.”

From personal experience, I can say that our daughter started trying to lie about different things at a pretty young age – certainly before age 2 – though I don’t remember when.  Our son has not tried to lie about something yet, to my knowledge…but I’ve got my eye on him!  🙂

You can look at those little lies as cute, unimportant, or inconsequential – and on the surface, you might be right.  However, those little lies are also the first signs of rebellion, which is not cute, unimportant, or inconsequential.  It has long lasting effects – namely, more rebellion – if not checked.  It’s easier to correct a 3 year old who wants to lie about a 3 year old issue than to correct a 13 year old who wants to lie about a 13 year old issue.