Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

September 25, 2012

The 5th Grade

Dear Simon,

Here’s a few things about 5th grade (and what’s been happening the first few weeks so far):

1. You have a binder (notebook) that you bring home each day. I love it because it reminds me of being in school – I loved setting up my binders with dividers each year (or semester). Yours has dividers for homework, reading, math, science, and social studies. Your binder was big enough the you did need to start using a new backpack – you’ve been carrying the same blue backpack since kindergarten. I want to encourage you to embrace organization to help make sense of the stuff of life.

2. You are really doing awesome reading right now. No complaints about reading time. In the past two weeks you read The Incredibles, Shrek 2, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. One of my greatest hopes is that you will embrace a love of reading.

3. The bus has been a challenge. Not the bus itself exactly, but the routines associated with it. The bus arrives to school later this year and you’ve been really frustrated that it’s not the same as last year. This year you go straight to your classroom vs. going to the gym. Your frustration with the situation was so high that you needed me to help you get off the bus in the afternoon for about the first six days of school. Your Dad wrote up an agreement with you on Tuesday about expectations and behaviors related to the bus (and what time you arrive and who gets off first in the afternoon) and things seemed to be better on Thursday and Friday. I’m super proud of how you are working on your working-through your frustrations.

4. You buy your lunch just about every day. You check the schedule and if by chance they don’t have something you want you say, “Mom, I need a home lunch today.” You’ve also been doing a pretty good job eating food at dinner that’s not your most favorite. I want to continue encouraging you to try new things – so often they really aren’t that bad.

5. You’ve been really into Google Earth this past week. Checking out some of your favorite places from movies (like Cairo and Nepal from Indian Jones) and from real life (Disneyland, Empire State Building, Dad’s house, your school). I hope you continue to love adventure and travel.

6. You still want to wear your “summer shoes” every day to school. And right now I’m letting you.

7. You’re still going to gymnastics and even though you complain/get frustrated about having to share the teacher with other students it’s been a really great thing for you (and I know you like the activity). We talk a lot about how it’s a time to work your body and your muscles and we are starting to see you get stronger and more confident in class. I’m so happy to have found a form of exercise that builds your confidence – both in body and mind – and one that you actually enjoy (even if sometimes you get frustrated about the other kids).

Here’s a few photos from your the open house:

We love you Simon. So very much. We are here to support you every step of the way.

Love Mom


  • 1.
    Jessica Poelma said…

    Oh I Ali I used to teach 5th grade before becoming a SAHM. It truly is a magical year. Have you tried reading him/having him listen to on tape the Percy Jackson books? I found those to be a favorite among 5th grade boys (Harry Potter too) but they are “big” so sometimes I would have mom or dad start by reading the books to their child. Most of the time through the series or through one of the books the child would begin to read the book on their own.

    • ….
      Cathy said…

      My 5th grader did not have a love of reading but did love the Percy Jackson books. The school librarian introduced them and he couldn’t read them fast enough. Definitely recommend those…author is Rick Riordan.

    • ….
      Ann said…

      Ditto on Percy Jackson! My son also liked everything that Gary Paulsen ever wrote. The Hatchet was his all-time favorite.

    • ….
      Sarah said…

      Mine loves Percy so much I am working on his Halloween costume as Percy. Crafting with celestial bronze is tough! :)

  • 2.
    Lisa B said…

    I am having the “summer” shoes issue with my 3rd grader. Since were in MN it is no longer time for sandals (except for yesterday when it decided to be in the upper 70s again, thereby destroying all my “fall” arguments).

    • ….
      Karin Podolski said…

      We are also dealing with summer shoes with my daughter, despite the fact that she is wearing winter hats and gloves in the morning (Northern IL)…it’s supposed to be 81 today, so she wore capris and sandles…..with knee-high socks. Go girl!

  • 3.
    Lisa W. said…

    As always beautifully written words. Simon is a lucky boy, will certainly have ALL the little things to remember because of his awesome Mom!!!

  • 4.
    Julie said…

    Love your post, as always! Got a giggle from the Google earth reference – must be the age! My 10 year old 5th grader has fallen in love with it! “Look Mom – the Eiffel Tower!!!” Ha Ha – love it!!

  • 5.
    Karen Heisler said…

    Ali, I can’t thank you enough for being so open and sharing with your family life. We have very similar frustrations, struggles AND celebrations, and seeing you document yours is so inspiring. I haven’t taken the time to document our daily life. TRYING to do year-in-life, but life moves so darn fast, I just can’t keep up. I put in the things that I can, and hope to fill in the rest when there is a break.

    Thanks again for your openness and awesomeness!

  • 6.
    Melanie said…

    Thank you for sharing your life and your family with us. It makes my heart smile to read each leap and bound that Simon makes.

  • 7.
    Bridget said…

    Thanks Ali for the inspiration. We’ve recently moved and my 3rd grader is having a trying time with the change from his old school to his new school and the transition to 3rd grade. I’m going to write up something similar so we can look back and see how he overcomes his challenges. Thanks for always sharing such amazing glimpses of your life and insporing us to do the same.

  • 8.
    JosieK said…

    Simon is amazing..and you’re amazing. Thank you for sharing your life moments with us…both happy moments and challenging moments. My 3rd grader is advanced and basically learning and reading at a 5th grade level..and basically acts like a 5th grader as well…his teachers warned us that with kids who are advanced come challenges as well…and we know that now. And, like you, he knows we support him and only expect what we know he’s capable of. Google Earth is big around here too!

  • 9.
    Cherylle said…

    As a teacher, I just had to write and share one of my favorite authors.The Little Wolf books by Ian Whybrow iare a hoot. Even as an adult, I laugh out loud each time I read them to my students. The first book, Little Wolf’s Book of Badness tells how Little is sent to his Uncle Bigbad (yes, say it fast as one word) to learn the nine rules of badness. Little’s voice shines through a series of letters sent home to his parents, his brother Smelly Bref, and his cousin Yeller. When I say certain things in the classroom, the students say, “You sound like Little Wolf!” I know you and Simon will not be disappointed. Another one of my favorites is Little Wolf’s Haunted House of Horrors. There are several others in the line, even a book of poetry.

    Cherylle in CA

  • 10.
    M said…

    One is never too old for the excitement of a new school year. It’s been fun following Simon’s progress.

    Since she knows that I am a scrapbooker and photos are important to me, my daughter sent me a photo of her “First Day of School” yesterday- as a college Junior!

    • ….
      Karen S. said…

      My daughter did that too….she is a senior in college and said “my last first day of school – ever!” she is going to be a teacher so I think she’ll have many more first days!!

  • 11.
    Lourdes A. said…

    I loved the original Gordon Korman books at this stage (This can’t be happening at McDonald Hall, The Nickname game, I want to go home, etc.) There is even one called Radio 5th Grade which he might enjoy.

  • 12.
    Nancy said…

    I love school teacher’s cursive! So beautiful!

    Great post Ali. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  • 13.
    Bekah Doak said…

    Ali, thanks for showing and encouraging me to document the struggles as well as the joys of parenting a child with ASD. My 4th grade Aspie daughter is really struggling with reading/homework this year. I like the contract idea, think we’ll give it a try! Are there positive AND negative consequences built into this?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Bekah – that one in particular was a combination “acknowledgement” and “acceptance” (he needed to acknowledge that things were different and then accept them). If he didn’t he would lose privileges here at home (movie & game time) and if he did he would receive something he’s working towards (a new costume). We started a reward chart at the end of the school year and need to start it back up again.

  • 14.
    june w said…

    Wow! It has been a very long time since 5th grade. How I would love to have a letter from my mom about my school year. I remember the party we had for my teacher because she got married….but that is about it. I thoroughly enjoy your memory keeping!!!

  • 15.

    What a beautiful letter to your son. My 6th grader moved into Special Day Class this year and it’s been a struggle at times also. I find so much joy when I pick him up and he has had a great day…I love seeing these kiddos overcome whatever is in front of them that day be it big or small!!!

  • 16.
    Paula said…

    I smiled at the “shoe situation.” My daughter has been wearing her winter boots since school started here in Florida back on August 16th. Most days have been in the 90′s and most of the 9th grade girls are in flip flops and sandals. One of the conditions she has along with Aspergers is tight heel cords, so she walks on her toes despite the orthopedic boots and exercises we’ve tried. Kids would imitate her, so the boots are her solution. So far, none of the kids have questioned it, which is a great relief. If we can let our kids have some creature comforts amidst the ups and downs in their day, I’m all for it :)

  • 17.
    Anthea said…

    Hi Ali
    Haven’t messaged in a while.
    But you have described so well the frustrations of a new year at school for Autism/Asperger’s children. We are going through some of the same issues only with a 15 yo, it’s so good to see someonelse celebrating the successes and working through the adversities.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • 18.
    Grandma Shelley said…

    I don’t usually comment on the personal lives of people I follow but this really touched me…you’re a GREAT mother!

  • 19.
    K said…

    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I feel compelled today. This post (and so many others) brought a tear to my eye. You are such a hardworking, fantastic mom. As a special education teacher and a mom, I especially want to thank you for this. I know you already know this, but you are raising remarkable kids!

  • 20.
    Lisa said…

    So cool to see Morning Meeting listed on Simon’s schedule. We do Morning Meetings also in our school. Love them.

  • 21.
    sam said…

    I agree with you and thankful to you for this post and I also know few of school for Learning disability where trained experts teach childrens with learning disablities and I want to share this with you all…please regards

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