School Rules – What would you chose?

standard December 2, 2011 7 responses

It’s no secret that I’m struggling this week. There are so many balls in the air that I don’t know which to catch first and frankly, I’m sorely tempted to let them all crash to the floor while I go off to Hawaii for a quick jaunt in the surf. Instead though, I’ll sit here, sipping a Gingerbread Latte, dunking my donut and I’ll rally. It’s what I do best.

Since, beyond arranging for childcare and entertainment for the kids, I can’t actively do anything about the fact that my husband is having surgery next week, I’m noodling the school issue.

Let me ask you a question. Below I’m posting two sets of school rules. You tell me which one makes you want to go learn. Maybe it’ll help everyone understand why I’m struggling so much with what to do with the kids next year.

School 1, where C has been for two years now. As posted in each classroom. 

School 2. One of the school options for Little L’s Kindergarten.

1. Treat others and their property with kindness and respect
2. Take care of school property and treat campus with respect
3. Use playground and school equipment the way it was intended to be used
4. Do not use abusive language, gestures or physical aggression
5. Do not throw sand, stones, dirt, tanbark, pebbles or rocks
6. No personal toys, sports equipment, cards or electronic devices are allowed at school
7. Bicycles, scooters, skateboards and rollerblades must be stored off school grounds or in the bike storage area. No riding in the hallways.
8. No gum allowed on campus
9. Do NOT leave campus unless signed out by a parent/guardian in the office
10. No student, or unauthorized adult shall be in the! classrooms, library or multi-purpose room without supervision or !permission.
11. Report problems at school to an adult. Students who witness problems and fail to report them are just as responsible as those who caused the problem.

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The end result is going to be the same: respectful kids in a safe environment. It’s just that the first set of rules are… I dunno… more friendly? Easier to want to follow?

If you’re anything like me after the third NO in the second set of rules your eyes glazed over and you started skimming.

If you’re like most people you felt inspired by the first set of rules. They’re rules that apply all life long, which is the premise of the school. They teach the kids lessons that will be valuable their entire lives.

It’s a tough conundrum. Environment #1 is a private school meaning the kids don’t grow their neighborhood community through school. Environment #2 is a public school, so we’d grow our local community, but lose on the school environment we love so much.

What would you do in our case? Which would you pick? (For the sake of argument, assume both schools rank similarly as far as academics go, the distinction lies in the realm of emotional education.)

The Education Question

standard November 28, 2011 1 response

First there was preschool. Then there was preschool again. And when we figured that out we had to start thinking about Kindergarten.

And even then it wasn’t over.

Because the school we found, that we adore, is 40 minutes away from our house.

On most days the commute is fine, long, but fine. Round trip, home, to school, to daycare, and back takes an hour and a half, but we deal. On other days, the commute is painful.

On days like the one last week, when I get called at 5pm because C has just fallen off the monkey bars, the 40 minute drive feels downright absurd. (For the record, I did the drive in 30 minutes. Don’t tell.)

C was fine in the end, but the issue brought the distance issue into debate again.

Little L is supposed to start school with her sister in the fall meaning, that, if we stay in the house we currently own, M will live 45 minutes away from work, the girls will live 40 minutes away from school, and I’ll be bouncing around working from home and from whatever coffee shop I end up in that day. I hate being that far from them all day, but at the same time, I hate being in coffee shops for hours on end.

The ideal situation would involve moving closer to both work and school, but the areas further north are exponentially more expensive than the place we currently live. We’d be able to afford either a house up there or the school… but not both.

C is in a school founded on the Education for Life principles. Their goal is to teach the kids everything they need to know academically while also teaching them how to be self reliant and how to interact well with others.

When C and Little L are grown I won’t care in the least how many AP classes they’ve taken, what classes they’ve aced. I will however want them to be self confident girls who aren’t afraid to think outside the box and follow their dreams.

I worry that if we send them to schools that place more importance on test scores than on emotional growth, that they’ll grow into girls who feel pressure to conform.

I worry that if we stay put and send them to the school we love that we’ll go nuts with all the driving we have to do.

Like every time we’ve had to face the school issue I wish I had a magic wand I could wave to make a perfect solution appear.

Leaping Into Learning to Read with LeapFrog

standard September 2, 2011 Leave a response

When my daughter was about to start school for the first time I softened the blog with a fun DVD featuring Tad’s first day of school. You know, Tad, the cute LeapFrog frog? He and his friend Lily bounced around a classroom showing off all the things my baby would be discovering for herself in just a few days.

That video was a staple in our house for weeks. I already loved LeapFrog, but this only cemented my belief that they really knew what kids need.

Later I learned that LeapFrog builds toys backwards. Instead of starting with a cool concept and manipulating it to tie in an educational component, they start with the educational component and, with the help of educators, grow it into an awesome concept. Neat, right?

This year LeapFrog is jumping into the learning-to-read arena.

Well, no, that’s not true. LeapFrog has been in that arena forever – impressively so, but they are mixing it up a bit with a fun new game for their Explorer, their newest hand-held game console.

LeapFrog LeapSchool

LeapSchool Reading innovates in that it allows a custom path to reading. Instead of serving up a “one-size fits all” game, this game allows the child to focus on areas that they’re passionate about (or at the very least interested in). Five friends — each with a different interest from music to cooking – guide the games and make learning to read fun. And as we all know, they don’t even realize they’re learning when they’re having fun! (Learn more about the game and get to know the friends on the LeapFrog LeapSchool site!)

My 6-year-old is a pretty good reader already, but the 4-year-old is desperate to teach herself so she can catch up. She latches on to any reading game we give her and keeps impressing us with her ability to sound out letters and words. With LeapFrog and LeapSchool we might be a step closer to having a really early reader in the house!

This post was sponsored by LeapFrog as part of the Fill the Backpack campaign. As always the thoughts, opinions, and stories contained in the post are mine and mine alone.

If you missed it, check out the Fill the Backpack giveaway of the year – $750 worth of awesome back-to-school goodies to make your year sweeter.
Want to check out other Fill the Backpack posts? Visit the Splash Creative Media bloggers. They’ll be thrilled to have you!

Life lessons from a 4-year-old: Family Love Dinner

standard April 22, 2010 9 responses

“Mommy? Are we doing anything fun tonight?”

We were in the car, battling traffic, and I knew she was really asking me if we were going to McDonald’s or not.

And we weren’t. Which meant that I was about to have a major tantrum on my hands.

“Nope! No fun tonight. No fun at all. This is No Fun Tuesday!”

My quick ploy seemed to work. C cracked a smile. I repeated myself and called her out on her smile. It grew. A giggle escaped. I admonished the laugh and the one after that. Soon enough both girls were laughing hysterically. Crisis was averted.

As their laughter died down C grew serious again. I glanced at her in the rear view mirror, she was looking down at her hand and her mouth was moving. I turned down the radio and asked her to repeat what she said. She looked up and spoke up.

“You know mommy, it’s a fun night when we all have dinner together. That’s all.”

I instantly felt terrible that I had assumed that fun could only be had at McDonald’s and then I felt doubly bad that M was at home at that very moment preparing a dinner for us that wouldn’t be ready until after the kids were in bed.

We have dinner with the kids a few times a week, when we can get our acts together and everyone’s meal on the table by 6:30. Some nights we just can’t manage it and I hadn’t noticed how much the kids craved our family dinners.

I made a snap decision and called home to ask M if he’d be willing to change our plans.

“Guess what!” I called back to the kids after hanging up. “We’re going to have family dinner! Family fun dinner!”

The girls cheered and clapped. Then C looked up at me and smiled brightly, eyes shinning.

“Babe. I’m sorry. I thought that fun meant that you wanted to go to McDonald’s.”

“Well, that’s a different kind of fun.” My wise daughter explained. “When we have dinner all together it’s not just family fun dinner. It’s family love dinner.”