I can't believe Nico has finished first grade!
Nico has been blessed with amazing teachers so far, starting from his early childhood program through kindergarten and first grade. This year, he had a wonderful Chinese School teacher on Saturdays too.
We've been so lucky that Nico has had teachers who have really taken the time to get to know him and nurture him. This year, I told Nico's first grade teacher, Mrs. Polanco, that he was having some cultural identity issues. She invited me to come to the class and give a cultural presentation as part of a social studies unit. I gave two presentations, one about Taiwan and another on Lunar New Year. Mrs. Polanco encouraged Nico to help with the presentations and she had an especially great touch when she asked him to teach the class how to count to 10 in Mandarin. When he wrote the characters on the blackboard and led the class in reciting the numbers, she exclaimed, "Thank you, Professor Nico!" Nico floated for the rest of the day and even talked about it again when I tucked him in that night. Even weeks - and months - later, he said he was going to grow up to be a professor (and a bowler and a father).
Throughout the year, with Nico's writing assignments, Mrs. Polanco gave him feedback that showed she was paying close attention. She'd write "Yummy!" when he wrote sentences about food. When he wrote too much about diapers and poo, she'd say, with a smiley face, "Nice sentences! Next week, let's try to write without the Captain Underpants sense of humor."
On one homework assignment, he wrote a paragraph about whales, using as many words of the week as possible:
Whales live in the Pacific Ocean. They don't each whiped (sic) cream. They can not catch a ball. They can not match things. They don't have a chin. They can not chop things. They can't be our pets.
Mrs. Polanco wrote on his paper, "You made me laugh!" When Nico wrote jokes and special instructions for her on his work (e.g. "Turn the page for a big surprise!"), she complied and replied with messages of her own.
When we went on trips out of town, Mrs. Polanco encouraged him to keep a travel journal. Each time he did, she had him share it with the class. She also sent back wonderful handwritten notes with his journals. One read, "Wow, Nico! Perhaps you will follow in your mom's footsteps and become a writer! Wonderful, fabulous, fantastic work! I liked your attention to detail and beautiful drawings. Way to go!"
On one of his stories, Mrs. Polanco wrote, "Nico, you are a very talented writer! I can't wait to buy your best seller book one day. Keep up the FABULOUS work!"
In doing all of this, she helped Nico understand the power of language. When I was growing up, I was fortunate to have teachers who nurtured my love of reading and writing. I'm so happy Nico is experiencing this too. Thank you, Mrs. Polanco!
I hope our streak of fantastic teachers continues this fall!