Okay, so we've officially been at the new school for a week. Eli is loving his new teachers, and REALLY loving some of the activities he gets to do. He is much more relaxed and a lot happier. His teachers go out of their way to reach each child at his/her level, and I can already tell a difference in Eli. First off, he's a lot more enthusiastic about what he's learning. Second, the teaching style is so different, and Eli's learning a LOT more. The teachers are very creative, and a lot of physical movement is incorporated into the learning. His previous teacher relied mainly on coloring pages and activities that revolved around coloring. At his age, coloring is the precursor to writing, so it IS important....but it's not the only activity that can be done with kids his age. In the last week, Eli's done everything from painting, cutting, coloring, attempting to write letters/words (he had begun writing at home before we started the new school), decorating letters with mosaic tiles, learning about Latin America, practicing "weather words" (rainy, cloudy, sunny) and time words (months of the year/days of the week), and recognizing all of his numbers (0-9, in both handwritten and digital forms). The lessons for this week include for the children to learn numbers 0-30, follow patterns, and to write their letters and their names. We have always worked with Eli at home and discussed things like this as he became interested, but the activities he's doing at school have lit a new fire under him. And seeing his new friends so excited about learning is giving him such a positive attitude. Even when the teachers are working with the class on the letter "B", they include questions like, "What words start with b?" and "What words end with b?", so the lesson reaches the kids who really don't know the letter, as well as kids (like mine) who need to think a little more. LOL....I only know this because when we left school, Eli was happy to point out his work, and he gave me the entire rundown on what words start with "B" or the "buh" sound (banana, bus, book, bed, etc). Then, he started asking about other words, "What does 'Sadie' start with? It doesn't have a "buh" sound in it." He is re-interested in reading since his teachers are so encouraging and sweet, and is now "pretend reading" books to his stuffed animals (the children are encouraged to "pretend read" books to one another - this consists of telling a story about the pictures in a book). He had also previously been interested in telling time and dialing phone numbers....and the learning he's done this week has enabled him to now do this very independently. He was able to dial Grandpa's phone number by himself yesterday...and although he did have to ask for Grandpa's phone number, it's only a matter of time before he has it memorized : ).
Even simple things are better...such as recess time when it's rainy. At his old school, when outside time couldn't be done, the kids stayed in and had a free-for-all. At the new school, the teachers have a variety of planned indoor activites for the kids during inclement weather...like Wii dancing (which, apparently, Eli is REALLY good at....I wish I could have seen this!). I also love that I get an end of the week report card (with a folder of his work for the week) on Friday. This was an unexpected treat, and it was really nice to have individual comments and suggestions for him. It was also a nice change of pace; previously I just spoke to his teacher at the end of each day. His teacher would only tell me whether he had a "good day" or a "bad day," and I wouldn't get much else (except the coloring pages sent home a few times a week).
We did, however, have our first school-related meltdown last night. Eli was very excited (and VERY overstimulated). This was partly because Patrick and I broke our own rules about screen time during the week and let Eli play Wii on a school night. This made it very difficult for him to settle down for bedtime, and a meltdown ensued. He was upset that he couldn't stay up late (because it was a school night) and came apart emotionally. It was slightly reminiscent about what we'de seen before the school change, although he was mostly frustrated that he couldn't have his way (rather than anxious about the following day). He was all smiles and giggles this morning, thankfully. From being excited about his "Star Wars" shirt, to being happy about his "cheese hearts" I included in his lunch, he was very content when I took him at school this morning.