Fall Frenzy

Do you see that? Those red leaves? Last week those were not there. The calendar turned over to September and BOOM the tree-line started to turn.

Tomorrow the kids go back to school. I’ve been back to school for two weeks. Things are going to be the same, but very different this fall. Alice will be going full time to daycare all by herself. For the first time in five years, we only have one kid in daycare!

Charlie has graduated from daycare! He is starting Kindergarten tomorrow, and he is so dang excited! Eddie has always loved school, but starts the year cautiously with some worries. Charlie has no worries at all and cannot wait to start. We have had to count “how many days now?” since early August.

Eddie is starting 3rd grade tomorrow! This means he’s officially an “upper el” kid at their school. He moves to the Upper El” playground and gets to be a reading buddy for a lower el kid. He knows almost everyone in his class, but he is nervous about not knowing his new teacher’s rules or the consequences. He has trouble controlling his socializing, so he worries about whether his new teacher will like him. Spoiler alert: everyone loves Eddie because he is helpful and kind, but sometimes he thinks getting redirected means someone doesn’t like him. We are working on that anxiety.

Eddie is continuing scouts this year as a Bear Scout. Charlie could start as a Lion Scout, but we are not sure if we will start him this year or wait until next year. We are just so busy already as it is because both boys are doing soccer this fall too!

Eddie took last fall off, but he wanted to play again this year. He is a little slow, but he’s got pretty good footwork and I think he could be a good defense player if he practices and tries hard.  He says it’s fun, so we are supporting his efforts and cheering him on.

Eddie is the jogging green shirt in the center of the pic

Charlie is doing soccer for the first time this fall. He is ridiculously excited about it. He is a pretty natural athlete and loves to learn and get better at things. He’s pretty quick and will great on offense. He is willing to go all in and sacrifice his body for the game…which I’m sure will make me nervous more often than not.

Charlie is in the yellow shirt to the left of the pic.

In two weeks all three kids will start Children in Worship (our church’s Sunday School Program) after church. Since Cortney is a deacon and has counting duty this fall, Sunday mornings will be my writing time. This is the first time in a long time that all the kids will be occupied for an hour after church and I’ll get some alone time to work on my PhD application writing. This is giant relief since the weekly schedule of scouts, soccer, and Cortney’s bowling league night had me panicky about when I would actually have time to sit in front a keyboard.

I’m not a huge fan of having something on the calendar every day. It feeds my anxiety and worry that I won’t have enough time for myself which means I will overload on anxiety and then fall into depression.  However, we do have a Game Plan and Plan B’s for when I feel like it’s all too much.

Oh and we took the kids to the zoo as a Fun Family Adventure before all the schoolscoutssoccerbowling madness hits the fan.

And yes, we actually let them choose something from the gift shop. Their minds were blown too. We had a moment of weakness.

Oh and yes, Eddie chose a Snowy Owl because Harry Potter has one. We are reading Harry Potter together. It’s my first time too.

Happy fall.

I miss you all day

Every day when Eddie and Cort come home, Eddie calls up the stairs, “Hi Mommy!”

Eddie takes his hat and coat off, stuffing the hat in the sleeve of the coat.

He sits on the step while Daddy pulls off his boots.

Then he hurries up the stairs to tell me the highlight of his day or to show me the craft he made or to hand me the mail.

I busy myself by getting him a snack and some milk and I ask him what he did at Renae’s house that day.

Usually he starts by telling me he played cars, but eventually he tells me about “circle time” and the songs they sang and the shape and color of the month, the letter of the week, and any other things they are learning.  Lately, for instance, he has been a wealth of knowledge on the subject of bears and caves.

He tells me that bears’ eyes go like this O_O

And last night he told me that his milky cup has the numbers 1, 3 and 10 on it.  He was right.

He is two years old.

He gets up by 7am every weekday and is at daycare until almost 5pm.

He has one more year and then we will be sending him to preschool.  To say he is excited to go to school is an understatement.

He enjoys learning.

He loves asking “why”.

He is like a little sponge…he absorbs every piece of information around him–memorizing songs and books and sayings, roll-playing doctors and mommies and chefs and puppies.

And as a teacher, my heart leaps to see my boy fall in love with learning.

To him, learning is just a part of being a kid….and he can’t wait to keep learning.

Every day I see kids who are not interested in learning at all.  I wonder when that happens?

At what age does learning become more of a chore than part of the excitement of just being?

Recently it has become federally mandated that all schools offer Kindergarten all day every day.  When I heard this, the only frustration I had was that they will not give more money to schools to staff and operate this, but they will take money away if districts don’t comply.

So either way, districts are losing money.

But this past week I have seen other concerns that never even crossed my mind:  parents worried that their five year old is not ready to be in school all day, every day.

I honestly think this didn’t worry me because I know Eddie already handles being away from me all day, every day.  He already handles learning and routine and getting up early.  He already thrives on being with other kids and taking directions from a “teacher”.

I know in a couple years he will do half day preschool, half day Day Care.  So all day Kindergarten the year after that seems natural.

I know this isn’t true for every child though.  And I know that most of the concern (at least from those on my facebook timeline and in my twitter stream) is mostly from moms and dads who stay at home with their children.  Those who will go to having their kids home to not having them at all.

And I can empathize with the anxiety these parents have because at one point, I had to go from being home every day with Eddie to not being home with him at all.

Aside from being a mother, though, I also know why schools need to go to all day, every day Kindergarten.

Currently, our country is in the process of changing from State Standards and benchmarks to Federal ones.  I think this is a good idea for many reasons (mostly due to consistency of test scores and knowing that a freshman in Iowa is hitting the same standards as a freshman in Maine), but that is not what I am going to spend time on here.

The “Common Core”, as they are called, are more stringent than what a lot of states are currently using. (Michigan is already pretty close on our standards matching, so we don’t have as much work to do to realign to the new federal requirements. at least at the high school level.  woot to that.)

However, in order for American students to reach these new standards, all day Kindergarten is necessary.

The public complains all the time that American students are behind the rest of the world (I could do a WHOLE other post on this subject); these new standards, in theory, will help ensure that ALL American students will be learning the same things.  That instead of state-chosen testing, there will be an identical test given to all students–from those in New Orleans to New York City to Los Angeles to Appalachia to wee little West Michigan.  No more 2+2 being a standard for high school algebra in some states, but higher level-almost-calculus being a standard in others.

Scores from all 50 states will be equitable.

Or at least that is the plan. (I have opinions on this too…and how funding is needed…but that is another tangent for another day).

To meet these common standards–to stay at the “correct” level–kids need to go to school all day, every day starting in Kindergarten.

I believe this is doable.

Not just as a mother, but as an educator.

Of course, this re-emphasizes my belief that ALL kids should be mandated to go to preschool and that it should be government funded…but maybe that is another post too?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that to me, school is not the “end” of being a kid.  It’s a continuation.

I’ve heard the argument that “kids should be allowed to be kids,” but I don’t know what this means.  Being curious and learning about the world is part of being a kid.

Learning to read and do math and understand history is a great part of being a kid.

Their brains are ripe for this knowledge to be introduced.  They are prime for instilling a lifetime of curiosity and questioning…and learning.

Are all kids ready?  No.

But they will be.

And as a parent you know your child.  If they need an extra year of pre-school or need to do Young 5’s to ease in, do it.

Both of my brothers did preschool twice.  It was what my mom and dad felt was right for them.

You know what is right for your child.

But make sure when you make the decision, it’s about your child and not about you.

While you might want to keep your child home forever, unless you plan to home school, you can’t.

So do what is right…for your child.

****UPDATE****

Since posting this I have had the opportunity to chat with my superintendent.  Kindergarten is NOT necessarily compulsory and their rules/regulations are still set by the state.  That being said, the state of Michigan (and many other states) are mandating that Kindergarten be full day in order for students to be prepared enough to enter first grade and tackle the rigors of the new standards.

That being said, parents do not HAVE to send their kids to preschool or Kindergarten, but it is my opinion that unless you are homeschooling your child with a curriculum that is based on the standards of public schools, your child will most definitely not be ready to transition from no school to first grade…neither academically or socially.

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