Thursday, September 8, 2011

School Days are Here!

I just dropped off Kate for her first day of preschool.  She walked right in and didn't look back.  We had been practicing her teachers names for a few days and I was so proud of her when she approached her new teacher and said "good morning, Becca".  She is such a sweet girl and so excited for her new routine at school.  This preschool is really a structured "mother's morning out" - 2 days per week for 3 hours each day.  They have chapel and music and art and eat lunch together.  She will learn things from adults other than me and meet little people just like her (and little people nothing like her).  I really believe in socializing kids as early as possible and giving them the chance to do things outside the shadow of their parents.  The decision to send her was made even easier by my desire to spend a few hours a week alone with Connor.  Having babies 16 months apart has made my time with him much more rushed and less relaxed than when it was just Kate and me.  Hopefully we can really take advantage of our alone time.


Kate before school this morning

Education is a passion of mine.  I finished my Master's in Education in 2006 and worked as a school counselor for several years.  When Connor was born I resigned and have made the decision to stay home for a few years, maybe until both of my kids are school aged so that we are all on the same "schedule" with snow days and summers and holidays.  We'll see.  I am very career oriented so whether I can stay away for that long remains to be seen.

Being a military family has definitely pros and cons.  One of the issues that has given me pause and some anxiety is how to be sure that both of my kids receive the best education possible in light of PCSs, deployments, and all of the other unique factors that define this transient life.  My husband and I both grew up in homes where we went to school with the same group of friends from Pre-K through 12th grade.  I went to public school and he went to private school but both of us had stability.  We never worried about being the "new kid", our parents never worried about moving to a new area where the "best schools" are either a mystery or have waiting lists 100 kids long.  We don't have the luxury of buying a fixer upper in the best school district and slowly creating our dream home.  We have to look at things one year at a time, one school year at a time, and react in the best way that we possibly can.

I am thrilled with the school Kate is going to this year but I had several advantages:
1.  We knew where we were moving prior to applications being due.
2.  We had lived in the area before and were familiar with the school options.
3.  She is 2.  This is the first year possible for her to go to school.  So I wasn't at a disadvantage to students who had been enrolled in previous years.

We won't always have these advantages.

When I created this blog I wanted it to be more than just my ramblings.  Over the next few weeks I am going to start building an education section for military and other transient families.  My goal is to compile the amazing resources that are out there into a user friendly format.  I will also include tips from school counselors and administrators on things to keep in mind (and out of boxes!) when moving.  If you have anything you think would be helpful to add, feel free to write me.

I hope all of your kids had a great first day!  Here's to a wonderful school year!

6 comments:

Megan said...

I don't have kids (yet) so I haven't given much thought to this, even though I grew up as an Army Brat and had to change schools every few years. I think a section on education is a great idea! When it comes to PCSing, we can never be too prepared! Best wishes to Kate on her first day!

Laura said...

Jill, in this transient life, I've found the children to be more resilient than I could ever be. This past year, they attended 3 separate schools. Especially with Caitie (being older), quickly identifying the 'friendlys' (the go with the flow kids in the classroom) amongst their peer group, I believe helped them transition socially vs. worrying about trying to fit in with specific cliques. We also do not immerse ourselves in many activities. Instead, focusing on one major activity per school year/season, which helps them to form bonds (yet meet new children). With Caitie being older, she does participate in extra activities through school, which are academic related. From an educational standpoint, regarding deployments: I learned of Tutor.com's program for military children, which offers free tutoring online. When you're faced with dinner/homework/bedtime routine for multiple children every. single. night. alone with no relief, it's already enough. When your child starts bringing home worksheets that would be question contenders on an episode of 'Are you smarter than a 5th grader?', you may very well find yourself crying in the closet at some point! So, taking advantage of resources like this, is a great help! My daughter is expected to run through her homework with me and perform the problems independently. Tutor.com, she logs in a few times a week to do example problems of ones that she is doing incorrectly on her school tests. When your partner is gone, it is a help to have that neutral party to run through new concepts that are a challenge. They also offer resources (online math games, etc.) that they can load onto the child's 'whiteboard' screen. Cool program, overall, for school aged children. Finally, having a presence at school is a help (not the same as being a 'helicopter' mom). I volunteer twice a week in the mornings, I see the teachers in passing. They know I'm 'connected' and welcome constructive critique of my children.. I'm approachable and accessible, if they have an issue or concern related to my child's education (or behavior) in their classroom. I get great ideas from them, and the perspective that I've gained from volunteering at school has been invaluable. Hank's teacher seems to have invisible octopus arms! As for little Kate, I hope that she has a wonderful 1st year of pre-k... know that you will enjoy your time with your son, I had that opportunity our first year in Florida with Hank. Hank and Caitie both entered pre-k in Hampton Roads. I firmly believe they are ahead of the curve socially and in reading, because of it. My Uncle is also a director with NAEYC, so I've read most of his materials.. and have always felt that there are benefits to the programs that Caitie, Hank, (and now your Kate) attend.

Karen said...

Kate's school sounds perfect. And how wonderful that you get some one-on-one time Connor. Weston will be able to start a preschool program (pretty much a mom's day out thing) as soon as he turns two. I think he would love it!

Amy said...

I look forward to the education information you plan to share. We are nearing the school age and military life complicates everything.
Kate's school sounds great! I am so excited for her and for Connor getting 1 on 1 time with you.

waseem said...

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Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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