Thursday, July 18, 2013

School Days Ahead

The signs of school starting are all around: back to school clothes, school supply sales, and school registration. This fall, we will have two of our kids off to school. Harrison will be starting a three year old preschool program and Max will be....stifling tears.....starting kindergarten. Harrison is beyond excited to have something to do that's just "his" and I'm excited for him. He's always been my clingy child and while I LOVE the snuggles, I hope this is a step to a bit more independence and learning to be without me. His program is for a few hours 3 days a week, with the option to add on extra classes such as music, Spanish, drama/acting (seriously, a drama class for a three year old?? I've never met a three year old who needs help being dramatic, but whatever). I'm very excited to see how this school year goes at his school. They use a Creative curriculum there, which seems to be a cross between an academic curriculum and Montessori. This is very close to the way I run my daycare as well: kids learn and play with each other, all while we sing a numbers song or say the alphabet as they play. If they are doing well with an activity, that activity is not interrupted even though the "schedule" says otherwise. Each child is treated as an individual with individual needs. With my daycare, if the kids are super tired one day, lunch or whatever can be moved up so naps can be earlier. If a child wants to lay down at 9:30 am, even though all of the other kids are playing and getting ready for snacks, then that child can lay down. I am slowly realizing this is unique to a daycare as most daycares follow a schedule with not much leeway for kids individual needs. I know with so many three year olds in Harrison's preschool class, it won't exactly be like this, but a creative curriculum seems to be the closest thing I can find to how I run the daycare. Hopefully this means an easier transition for Mr. H.

I have MANY mixed emotions about Max starting kindergarten. For one, he's my baby. My entire life changed the day I had Max (and Harrison and Elizabeth). I have spent everyday of his life with him, with the few exceptions of my hospital stays for having Harrison and Elizabeth and the time I got the stomach flu and he stayed with my parents for 24 hours. There will be no more having a random day off for a special fun day with my kids. Instead, those days will have to be well planned around school, activities, work, daycare kids, and whatever else there may be. It will be odd not having him here during the day. As he's gotten older, he has become my little helper. He enjoys being the Big Kid and helping the younger daycare kids build Legos, share toys, making his little sister laugh when she's super grouchy, and teaching the kids all he's learned in preschool this past year. It will be a change, but I have no doubt he's ready for this change and challenge of school.

My other emotions stem from the fact that we have decided to give public school a try. It's no secret I've gone to parochial school my entire life and my husband went to grade school at a parochial school so I have no idea what to expect with public schools. I grew up with the stigma that public schools were not good and kids must be stupid if they go to a public school. Up until this year, I was adamant that "my children will NOT go to public schools!" However, the reality is parochial schools are beyond expensive and we have three kids to put through school. If we only had Max, I would gladly send him to any of the parochial schools, but it's not just Max we have to think about. The thing I'm most sad about is that the parochial school system provides an unbelievable community and support system. Hell, I owe most of my daycare business to my fellow parochial school grads! I am disappointed my kids won't experience this sense of community (which is only something I have begun to appreciate in the last few years) but as I've said, we must do what's best for all three kids and our family as a whole. Going broke trying to pay for our kid's grade school education does not seem like the best solution to me.

Matt and I have always wanted something different for our kids than what we had for school growing up. We are not practicing Catholics, but we plan on giving our children knowledge of ALL religions. I feel this is something I greatly lacked going to Catholic schools and want my children to understand and be respectful of other's beliefs and practices.

So, we're giving Des Moines Public schools a shot. I've heard both good and bad things about his school, but I'm hopeful and looking at this as a learning experience for all of us. Wish us luck with this upcoming school year!