Tag Archives: school

The Kindergarten Follow-Up

We went, we played, we cried. Well, my daughter cried.

So, everything went well at my daughter’s school at first. She tried playing with a lot of toys. Amazing how she just picks something up and starts playing with it. About halfway in, the kids went to the library where the kindergarten teachers did story time. The parents went back to the kindergarten classroom to listen to the Principal talk. Nothing new, but some parents asked questions. That’s when it happened.

The kindergarten teacher brought our daughter to us. She was crying. Why? Because we were gone. She had no idea that we’d left her there without us. Well, the meeting was over anyway, and it was time to leave. But she didn’t want to go. She cried again, saying she wanted to keep playing. I explained to her that everyone is going home, so we can’t stay. She was angry.

Hopefully, when school starts, she won’t be crying when it’s time to go home.

My Daughter’s First Day at School, Sort of

Tonight, we’re going to my daughter’s school. While she’s visited it when we registered her for kindergarten, this will be her first time seeing her classroom and meeting her classmates and teacher. While we don’t know which teacher she’ll have, and we don’t know which classmates will be hers, she can spend some time at the school that she didn’t want to leave before.

When we visited it the first time, my daughter cried when we left. She didn’t want to leave at all. She saw kids having fun, and she wanted to start right at that moment. Tonight, I wonder if she’ll cry when we leave.

When she starts school in September, I think she’ll be okay. She’s been in the situation where she’s been picked up by a driver and dropped off at a place full of kids. And she had no problem coming home, either. She’s used to this. She’ll be able to socialise with other kids, and hopefully, she won’t behave selfishly like she often does with toys. She’s more cooperative than she used to be, but I wonder if she’ll listen to her teacher.

Another thing is that she’s only four years old. She’s starting kindergarten earlier than most of the other kids. She can handle being in the class with other kids and a teacher, but can she handle doing what she learns? Her English isn’t the best. However, the teachers are experienced with kids whose first languages aren’t English. While she’s only four, there is a choice we must make at the end of the year. Another year of kindergarten, or is she ready for grade one at five years old? Only time will tell.

Anyone else have young children starting school or recently started? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Japanese School for My Daughter

At the moment, my daughter only has my wife to speak Japanese with her. But today, we met a couple families whose husbands are Canadian and wives are Japanese. Both families have several children older than my daughter.

One of the topics that came up was the Japanese school. There’s one here in Edmonton, and it apparently has around 130 students. We’d like our daughter to attend, so she can meet other kids who speak Japanese, and she can maintain her Japanese fluency. That’ll be very good for her, as she’ll be able to be fully bilingual. It’ll be great for her future. I hope she likes it.

Progress in Canada: Phone Calls, Banks, a School, and Driver’s License

It was an interesting day today. What happened today changed tomorrow’s plans.

First of all, because of my wife’s permanent residency basically being approved, I called the call centre for immigration to see if she can land in Edmonton. They said it’s possible, but with such short notice that she was given, it may not be possible to get an appointment in time. So, we may have to go to the border with Montana and make a U-turn. Both of the representatives I spoke to were very kind and helpful.

Then I made another phone call. This one was to the elementary school my daughter will go to school. They were very friendly, and asked us to visit the school and register our daughter in the afternoon.

So, after lunch, we went to the school, filled out the registration, and discovered that she can get bus service! That’s excellent news. She’s now registered and will be attending kindergarten next September. We also found out there’s a parents only orientation next week on Thursday. That should be interesting.

Later on, we went to a few banks to get some information about accounts. The credit unions seem more promising. We also checked the mail, and much to my surprise, the translation of my Japanese driver’s license had arrived! That means I can get my driver’s license tomorrow.

After dinner, I took my daughter out to the park to blow some bubbles, and saw a great sunset.

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Nice way to end the day. Tomorrow, my daughter meets one of my aunts for the first time, and I’ll get my driver’s license figured out. And we’re going to see a movie.

How was your day?

Prayer in Public School? It’s the Twenty-First Century!

I read a fairly short article on Huffington Post Alberta, which I agreed with. But that’s not the interesting thing. On Facebook, there was a rather heated argument.  And I got myself involved in it briefly.

There’s a woman who was supporting the Lord’s Prayer being recited in public schools in Saskatchewan, and a lot of people argued against her, saying that the prayer infringes on non-Christians’ right to be exempt from it. In Canada, you cannot impose your religion on another person. The woman argued that since the others were asking that the prayer not be said in class, they were infringing on her children’s right to say the prayer. But that’s not what they were saying at all. They were saying that her children could pray however they like, but the other children should not be forced to do it. She went absolutely nuts. I chimed in with my own little comment:

Your kids can pray whatever they want whenever they want. That is their right. However, that prayer should not be forced on other kids who may not be Christian. It’s a public school. Atheism is not being taught. School subjects are being taught. Religion doesn’t come into it. Religion is a personal thing and should remain private. Your kids can pray if they want, but don’t make mine pray to something they don’t believe in.

You see, she claimed that her children were being taught atheism. They weren’t, of course. I presume that she believes that the teaching of evolution, the big bang, and science in general is the teaching of atheism. It’s not. She later said that scientists believed that the Earth was flat. Actually, that didn’t happen. I added this:

Late to this conversation. Judy, it’s been know that the earth is round since the times of Ancient Greece. No one suggested it was flat after that. Anyone who captained a ship knew the world was round, because they has to take that into account when calculating their location and direction.

The belief that Columbus thought the world was flat is completely wrong. He knew the Earth was round. He was trying to find a shortcut to India across the ocean. He just ended up running into a few islands in the Caribbean. But that’s another story.

Back to the original topic. The teaching of religion in public schools should never be something forced on students. If you include one religion, you must include the others. If you have prayers in class, they should be silent, and should never be forced on students. Nor should they be shamed into it. Like I said on Facebook, religion is a personal, private thing. It should never be imposed on others. And public schools are for learning the skills needed to become a functional adult in society. Leave the teaching of religion to churches.

One other thing, she wouldn’t respond to this. Someone asked her that if she follows the Bible religiously, does she obey Matthew 6:5-6? Prayer is not to be done publicly, but in the privacy of your own home. Anyway, I’m staying out of that. I’m not going to argue scripture, because I find it a pointless activity.

What do you think? Should kids in public schools have to pray? Or should religion be kept out of public schools completely? The comments section is open for a little debate. But keep it civil, please.

What’s Your Favourite Period of History?

I like history. I like it now, but I didn’t always enjoy learning about it in school. But even then, I liked history. I guess I just didn’t like having to write essays about it. But what we learned was quite interesting. I remember learning about the Aztecs in grade six. I remember learning about Russian history in junior high school. I remember European history and studying about the World Wars. It was all fascinating.

I like looking at the history of countries, how things have changed over the centuries. Even now, looking at current events, I think about how this will be history. And what happens now shapes our future, just as our past shaped what the world is like now.

When I think about history, I often wonder about what my favourite time in history is. I think I’ve mostly been interested in ancient Greece and Rome. But I also like Japanese history. What is your favourite period of history?

High School Reunions

My twenty year high school reunion is happening this weekend at a golf course I used to work at. It’s on the other side of the world. It’s just six months too early. I would have loved to have gone.

People change, and I’m quite interested in seeing how people change. A lot of the people going to the reunion I’m in touch with over Facebook. After we move to Canada, I’m hoping to meet up with a few of them, catch up, actually talk with our mouths using our vocal chords to make sound. That would be quite the novelty. Facebook is great, but there’s nothing better than seeing old friends, and even old acquaintances, in person.

I wonder how much they think I’ve changed. I used to be this skinny, shy, quiet, geeky nerd. You know the type, they’re always in those high school movies. Well, except I wore a t-shirt and jeans, and never wore glasses. I was into Star Trek. I was painfully shy about dating, so never went to the prom. If I went to school with you, do you remember that’s the way I was?

How have I changed? Well, since I can’t attend the reunion, I’ll tell you. I’ve filled out a bit, though I guess you could still say I’m thin. I’m not shy anymore. I’m still somewhat quiet, unless I get into a conversation with you. Geeky nerd? Yes! I still am. But I’m also very active outdoors, often walking very long distances, hiking, and doing a lot of nature and urban photography. I still wear a t-shirt and jeans, but I also wear a suit to work. Still don’t wear glasses. I’m also still into Star Trek, but haven’t really watched it in quite some time. I don’t need to date, since I’m married, and I have a three-year-old daughter.

So, how are you doing? Who wants to meet up for lunch or drinks or something next year? I know I’m looking forward to it. And I hope there’s a 25 year reunion. I’ll be there!

Teaching Introverts and Shy Students

When I was in school, I was not only an introvert, but also quite shy. I was the very quiet kid who didn’t like speaking in front of the class. Reading reports in front of my classmates was one of the worst things I could’ve been asked to do.

A lot of teachers say it’s a good thing to get kids to speak in front of class like that. Did it help me? Did it allow me to “come out of my shell” a bit? Not at all. Each time was terrifying and didn’t make things any better. That’s not to say it doesn’t help others, but in my case, I didn’t get over my shyness until I was in my 20s and had a job involving talking to strangers over the phone. My confidence developed because of that, and soon after, I was promoted to Team Leader, which is a supervisory role. I was then talking in front of groups of people doing project briefings. And now, I teach. I’m always in front of people talking to them. I don’t get nervous about it. I’m confident in my lessons. My shyness went away, but my introversion remains.

What’s the difference? Shyness is a personality trait that leads to social anxiety. There’s a fear of speaking to people, being the centre of attention, and a strong desire to just get away from everyone. Eye contact is difficult, using a louder voice is nearly impossible, and sweating is often profuse while having to speak to or meet new people. This is something that can be changed, but people shouldn’t be forced to change. That can cause an even stronger social anxiety.

Introverts have an actual physical difference in their brains than extroverts. The brains of many individuals have been examined, and it was determined that introverts have more than a personality difference, it’s physical. They’re likely born that way. Introverts gain energy by being alone. They spend energy while being in social situations. A party is tiring, but that doesn’t mean an introvert doesn’t enjoy parties. They may like them in moderation. I personally don’t like parties, unless it’s only good friends or people I like. I’d prefer not to be overstimulated by a lot of strangers coming to me for some small talk. Small talk is something introverts find tiring and pointless. We want to talk, but we want to talk about deep subjects, not shallow small talk. This reluctance to speak to strangers seems to appear like shyness, but it isn’t. And also, introverts tend to take their time to answer. That hesitation isn’t shyness, it’s just that the answers are being well thought out. Introverts like precise and effective communication. They want to get to the point, cut out the unnecessary details, but be very thorough about giving all of the important information. They are excellent communicators when they need to be, can be excellent leaders and decision-makers, and are great judges of character. One of my abilities is to adapt to different personality types. I find it remarkably easy to get along with just about everyone. Not everyone sees my true personality, but I learn about others’ personalities and adjust my outward “personality” accordingly. It’s like I’m a chameleon.

When teaching introverts and shy people, it can be a bit different. I understand both introverted and shy students. For adults, they tend to be more in control of their shyness and introverted tendencies.  Kids have a lot more trouble with it, though.

For shy kids, they don’t want to talk. They’re quiet, they notoriously difficult to get to say anything, and they rarely talk to their classmates. They often look down or look around at anything but other people. Patience is important for the teacher, but also finding a way to build the student’s confidence.  Confidence is the main issue with shy kids.

For introverted kids, they are not necessarily shy, but are also often quiet, especially in larger groups. Get an introvert in a small two or one student class, and they are more likely to talk rather than listen. There’s hesitation when they answer. This isn’t shyness. This isn’t nerves. This is just them formulating their answer in full before they answer. They’re perfectly capable of having fun with other kids, but they’re also likely to be more serious. Although, I have had introverted kids laughing a lot, while extroverted ones are incredibly serious, but very talkative.

I think in both cases, patience on the teacher’s part is important. For shy students, take time to get them to feel more confident. They’ll likely feel better as they get to know other students, but are likely to shy away from speaking in front of large groups. Introverts need time to answer, because they want to have a thoughtful and precise answer. Speaking in front of a large class may not be a problem in their case, but it is draining if they have to do very social activities.

In my case, being both an introvert and a shy student, I had the misfortune of being afraid to speak out in class. However, I felt more comfortable in small groups of about three or four people, and I would offer my thoughts, and often take a bit of a leadership role.

So, teachers, if you aren’t an introvert, and you don’t fully understand what it’s like to be an introvert, please try to understand that forcing them into an extrovert mould is likely to backfire. It’s not in their nature to behave like an extrovert. Speeches in front of class aren’t exactly helpful. Group work is better.

This post is in response to an article that appeared in the Huffington Post.

Teachers, introverts, and anyone else, what are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments below.

Dear Teacher

It’s that time of year. The kids go back to school. I thought I’d share a post made by Eric, aka stomperdad. He’s a parent who understands what teachers go through.

All In A Dad's Work

Dear Teacher,

Today is your first day of school, again. Though, I know today really isn’t your first day. You have been at inservices enhancing your teaching methods. Those inservices, which use up your precious classroom time. A time you use to get your classrooms in order. Figure out your desk arrangement and where to sit your new, eager learners even though you nothing about them. A time you use to decorate your walls, bulletin boards and chalk boards. This, I know, is no easy feat. But you’re creative, you’ll have no trouble. Your walls and boards will be adorned with bright colors and all things educational. Regardless of the all meetings and inservices, your classroom will be open, ready, and eager for new learners.

Those inservices that use up your precious planning time. You get very little of it in a normal day. So little, in fact, that you…

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But That’s Not My Name

My name is not very common. Jay Dee Archer.  Well, there is an American who’s been in trouble with the law, but I think his name is hyphenated.  But aside from him, I don’t think you’ll find anyone with the same name as me.

It seems everyone gets my name wrong when they first meet me.  In elementary school, I always had to correct the teacher. It’s not Jay, it’s Jay Dee. This continued all through junior high school and high school.

Then I come to Japan. I’ve been called Dee Jay, Joy, Jamie, Joy Dee, you name it.  Many thought Dee was my last name.  As a foreigner in Japan, it’s also not easy to convey the pronunciation of my name to others.  Typed out in Japanese, it’s アーチャー ジェイディー, or Archer Jay Dee.  But today, I went to get my annual health checkup done, and they had my name as アーチャー ジェイビー, or Archer Jay Bee. They kept calling me Jay Bee.

But I guess my name is unique enough to attract some attention. Think it’s good for an author’s name? Or do I need a pen name?

Does anyone get your name wrong?