Friday, September 23, 2011

countdown to kindergarten

I snapped this photograph earlier this week - Adelaide on our front steps, ready to go to her first day back at preschool.

Part of me actually kind of wishes that my kid was one of the little children who clung to their moms on that first day of school - but, um, yeah, not so much. After a little cajoling, I barely managed a wave from her. And my soft-focus day dreams of homeschooling my children - which have lingered in the back of my head since giving birth - have by now completely slipped away. (Almost - maybe Reid will never want to leave me!)

And so, the countdown to kindergarten begins. Often, I am thinking of this. Perhaps I have too much time to think rather than do these days, but the thoughts of my girl and school fascinate me.

I really love hearing schooling stories from around the world. And so, to feed my wonderment, I have three questions for you:

1. How did you choose your child's school?
2. What do you love most about it?
3. What do you not like about it?


Anonymous said...

Hi, she looks so cute and grown up!
My daughter (6) goes to a local school (we live in Wales in the UK) and is taught through the medium of the Welsh language. Welsh is spoken by approximately 20% of people living in Wales. Its a tiny country so thats not an awful lot of people. But I'm proud of my culture and language and being bilingual can only be an advantage for my daughter. The school is small and very community focussed. The children all look out for each other and there is no bullying. Parents play a big part and I love getting involved in all aspects of my daughter's school life. I really can't fault it. Every day she skips to school without a backward glance. :) Ceri

Stacy said...

Mmm have you checked out the Waldorf School in North Van? Our kids have been there forever (they are now in grades 4 & 6). My oldest started public school kindergarten in our neighborhood and I never thought they wouldn't go to the public school but after a few unsettling observations we committed to Waldorf. We wanted to preserve our kids innocence and the magical nature they had as little ones. Waldorf has totally done that. We also liked that there was a spiritual (not religious) component because we aren't church goers (and pretty much identified ourselves as pagan) but knew that spiritual education is a huge component. I could go on and on but if you haven't maybe you might want to check out one of the Waldorf Welcomes that just give you an idea of what it's all about (sorry for ramble)!
p.s. they have a tuition adjustment program which is the only way we've been able to do it

Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves said...

We moved to our neighborhood for the excellent school district, and I'm in love with it. My son was in kinder last year... and my favorite part was the singing and the poems and the dancing and the hugs. My least favorite part. The technology. I was so infuriated at the beginning of the year by all the use of overhead projectors and computers (the class had three) and iPads (the class had two) and educational videos and iTouches (the class had two)... but then halfway through the year, I realized no matter how much I love the tactile elegance of a teacher sitting in front of 16 children reading a book, this is the reality of their future. One school district over from ours, they have a bond going to vote to abolish textbooks in exchange for eBooks. I imagine it will only be a matter of time before our district follows suit. You can't stop progress. The times they are a changin'. We must give them the old school at home so they can understand the touch and feel of doing things by hand, but when they go off, we have to let go and know the world they grow into is going to be very different from the one we remember.

Hanna said...

She's beautiful!

Anne said...

She looks ready to explore the world - so cute! My son is also 4 and just started kindergarten. We live in Switzerland where most kids go to the local public school. He got assigned to a kindergarten building that actually has a little semi-wild garden with a tree house and an elderberry tree. They picked the berries and made sirup in class! I hope you find a place that you like for your kids!

Krista said...

My daughters go to a public school that teaches through Russian Immersion-- half the day is taught in English, the other half in Russian. It's amazing-- by first grade they could converse with native speakers. It happened to be our neighborhood school at the time, but since it's a lottery school we were able to keep them in in even when we moved into another zone! I'd definitely recommend exploring an immersion school if you have the option (and I believe French immersion is fairly common in Canada?).

Besides the language benefits, I love my school because it's one of the oldest in the district (my mom and her sibling all went there). Most of the staff has been there for many years. I feel really lucky that my daughters go where they go.

Megan said...

We live in Pueblo, CO and we chose to send our 6 year daughter this year to the school for arts and sciences. It is a public school, but is a charter, so it's run a little differently. We have more flexibility and is run more centrally, rather than on a district level.

I love that the kids have arts and Spanish almost everyday and that it has a mix of kids from different backgrounds. Our school is k-8th, so I really like the idea that my 3 children will all be in school together for a long time. There are only 2 classes per grade and the same teacher stays with the kids for two years.

Location was an important factor too. I always thought my kids would walk to school, but this school was farther away. We had some other neat school choices in town, but I really liked that this school was on the way to my husbands work and really close to his office. It's been so nice (for him, me and my daughter) that he can take my daughter to school in the morning.

We also have a nice private school in town, but I didn't want to feel the financial pressure of having to pay tuition, so we choose the public school.

Right now, I'm working on getting 4 trees planted on the kindergarten playground and am helping to start a school garden. So you can always help shape the school you choose to include things that you value.

My daughter is really happy at her school, and although I wish some things were different, she is really happy.

Nicole Austin said...

i currently homeschool my nine-year-old daughter through our public school district's homestudies program. i love it and so does she! she went to our neighborhood public school for K through half of 3rd grade. we chose it because it was close, it had good parent involvement and a good teachers and a lot of our families in the neighborhood attended. then one day she asked me if she could be homeschooled. we had never really talked about it before. i'm not even sure where she had heard the idea! i liked her kindergarten and 1st grade teachers but i'd always had a few issues with the public school. the over-crowded classes, the teachers' lack of classroom management skills, the chaotic and unruly playground, and the ridiculous drop-off/pick-up "system" where parents would literally through their car doors open in the middle of the street and little kids would go darting through downtown traffic! now we wake up when we want, we take our time in the morning, our days are more free, unstructured and relaxed. we go on fieldtrips with other homeschool families in the program, my daughter can spend as much time as she wants on a particular subject (she loves science--a subject that has been cut profusely in public schools in recent years), i could go on and on! :) we love it.

ash19 said...

Ohhh...she looks so adorable, and I know exactly what you mean out of getting your child to say bye to you. They do it almost as a favour!

Well we moved to Bangalore, India last year and my daughter who turned three started school this January. so to answer your questions...

The place we chose is a montessori which means that she goes to the "small" school until six and then the big one which starts at first grade. We chose the school because it seemed like a place where kids seemed happy, there was plenty of place to play, and the teachers and ayahs all seemed to like what they do.

What I like best about it is that my daughter loves it. Yes, it is sad that she can barely say bye to me, but from her point of view it is a place that she looks forward to going everyday. Also, I am amazed by how much they do everyday everything from "folding" to learning songs to new words!

What I do wish that it has a more student body. we lived in Brooklyn for fifteen years and I have come to expect a certain mixing of cultures and languages around me. There isn't much of that in her school. Although she is learning Kannada (the language) of this place something that only she knows and we her parents don't!

Thanks for the questions. i enjoyed answering it.

tracylee said...

Your daughter is adorable and you are so lucky that she is happy to go to kindergarten!

We live in Auckland, New Zealand, where it is common to go to public school and you are zoned for the local school. However, we managed to get into a very nice school just out of our area that is set amongst a farm, with cows and a great deal of greenery. This is uncommon in the city, so for me it is a real bonus.

We chose this school for it's small size and the good 'vibe' I got from it when we visited.

My son is not a child that has enjoyed being separated from me for school, so we have struggled with that. The teacher makes a huge difference I found and if you can find a school/teacher that 'gets' your child, you are in luck!

I am a graphic designer and only work part time, so have spent this year (our school year is a calendar year) going into his class every Tuesday for the afternoon and teaching the children art -- with his teacher's help.

If you can find a school that you can be involved in, you will find-- as in life-- the more you put in, the more involved you are, the more you and your child will get out of it.

Lastly, what has really touched me about Jett and his school, is his sense of community, his sense of 'his place'... where he knows everyone and feels very at home there! It has given him a greater sense of being a person in his own right, rather than just an extension of me.

Good luck and thank you for a very sweet blog!!

Jennifer said...

Congratulations, sharilyn and Adelaide!

Our daughters (6 and 3) go to a beautiful Montessori school near our home. I had worked in a Montessori school as an assistant when I was 20, and I knew I wanted my own children someday to attend such a school until they were 6. The school we have found goes beyond age 6, so for now, we're sticking with it, keeping an open mind. This school has a lovely community of parents, and our girls' teachers have been exceptional. The setting (on the Indian Ocean) is amazing. After a challenging time getting my younger, very attached girl settled into her school day, we are all very happy with our choice. We were lucky to get into this school, as it is extremely in demand in this area. It goes to age 15, so it has to complete standardized testing as do all schools here. Last year, it was the best in the state, so you can imagine the wait list! That demand is actually what I don't like so much about it, because we chose it for the philosophy and the Montessori approach to independence and respect of the child. We aren't concerned about academic development at this age and aren't using the school as a springboard to academic mastery. At times, I too daydream of homeschooling, thinking of things I'd ideally like better than we have...but we feel very fortunate for our girls to be in such a good place.

Wishing you and Adelaide the best start she can get!

Michele said...

For me the first days of my kids schooling were exciting! They were off on a new adventure and learning so much. I couldn't help but be excited. I always felt like partners with their teachers. I am happy we chose the school we did. Now they are nearing the end of their k-12 years, with my oldest just graduating high school last spring. This is the part that is hard! In kindergarten, you know they are coming home every day. Mine will only be coming home now for a little while longer. Where did the time go? Its goes so fast once they hit school I am nearly dizzy!

Ahh so many choices! Choice of schools is certainly a luxury we all have these days. Decide what is important. A Christian education was important to me and I am glad I chose this for them. Whats better than sharing the love of Christ with them and preparing them for eternity with Him? Not sure if you are a Christian but if you are please seriosuly consider this option.

Robyn O. said...

I home-school my three children (ages 4,7, & 9) and this is our 4th year doing so. There are a thousand different reasons that led our family to this decision....but, I'd say one of the biggest was TIME TOGETHER! This life is short, and childhood even shorter. We just really wanted this time to cultivate relationships with each other at home...and guess what, it's working :) We love being together and it is such a joy to see my kids becoming each others friends as well. There will always be people/things trying to separate you from your children explaining that THEY ARE THE EXPERTS and they know better what your child needs. When I decided to trust myself and my instincts I found the courage to bring my kids home! I have been so blessed by this. Obviously their are hard days too...but, no matter what educational path you take we all have some bad days, right! It's just when you home-school you're kids get to see you have it up close and personal. Perfect environment for character training! ha.ha. You will make the right decision for your family...and remember you have the freedom to change your mind along the way! Blessings to you as you continue to love and nurture your precious babes!

PS. One more thing I've discovered along the way is that I can tailor our education to suite my childrens individual interest...we are all so unique! One size does not fit all :)

Rhonda said...

YOur daughter is so sweet! Love the photo of her!

I homeschool my almost six year old. She is doing some kindergarten work and some grade 1 work. She is starting to read now and loves to learn. I did have her go to a Preschool for one year, so she could learn some basics, and play with other children. I told her we decided to homeschool her and at first she didn't want us to, but now, she is having so much fun, she doesn't really even know she is learning while having fun! There is nothing I don't like about homeschooling...Maybe ,here in MInnesota,USA, I would like to see less homeschooling laws. We, as Parents, are our childrens first teachers, and I want to comtinue to be my daughters teacher.

Excellent questions!
HAve a happy week!

tacklehug said...

Hi Sharilyn,
I live in Australia (a lovely little city called Adeladie!) and I have 4 children, my eldest has started Reception (first year of "big school") at the age of 6. We chose our local school from word of mouth around the neighbourhood. Unless you choose a private education here, we are "zoned" to certain schools, which makes choosing the right home when buying even more difficult. We were lucky in finding a lovely little house which was smack bang inbetween 2 lovely schools. The fact that my next door neighbour has children who attend the same school/ kindy is an absolute blessing as we share the drop off/pick ups. I still have to contain myself when dropping Charlie at school - seeing him in his uniform, looking sooo grown up and proud of himself is heartwarming, i find it hard not to linger on the see you later cuddle.
Question 2 - I love that Charlie has made some really great friendships and has adjusted to school life with relative ease:
Question 3 - It was very hard at first to hear of his lunch breaks spent playing by himself during the first couple of weeks - many of his classmates had begun their schooling the previous year and had already formed their friendship groups. He would come home and tell me that he didn't know who to play with so he just played by himself in the sandpit (awww, heartbreaking stuff!) He would sometimes say "my class played chasey today and I tried to join in but I didn't know who was who because they all looked the same" - (this was Charlie's first experience in a large school which enforced a uniform!!!) I hope this short experience of his will help him to form empathy for others in similar situations!
Thankyou for the questions, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the responses.
Your children are devine and will thrive in any environment as they have such a caring, loving mother.

tacklehug said...

whoops, just noticed I spelt Adelaide incorrectly, sorry!!!

izaskun said...

hi Sharilyn,
oh yes what a headake was for us... the school choice.
Our daughter (4) goes only in the morning to a local school. As we live in the spanish basque country, the basque, minority language turns into a majority language at school. Oihana is happy there.
To choose, important to me, listen to my feelings (better than anything else), little school (everyone knows each other's name), not far from home ( if possible walking or biking), and a school that respects young persons, their "rythms and blues" -needs- (the little ones need as much respect as the older ones.
Best luck to you all

boysrus said...

I grew up in BC and the Yukon, going through the French Immersion program. I thought I had to box up the childhood dream of my children being bilingual when I married an American, but we happened to have moved into a very progressive school district that offers immersion in several different languages. There is no French (yet?) but my oldest is in Italian and his brother will soon follow suit.

I love the school for the size (small!) and the relationship between the administration and the teachers. I love that the school recognizes that children learn in different ways and makes it standard practice to try to reach as many different learning styles as possible. I love that the three target languages at the school foster an environment of cultural tolerance. And I love that the school is very very welcoming of parent volunteers.

Ask your local schools to do a tour. I sent my husband on the school tours and he definitely knew which ones were not right for us, and which one was -- there is a big difference from school to school and that's why we have intuition to partner with our brains!

Bobble said...

I've been reading your blog for over a year (at least!) and I love your designs... and your little anecdotes.

I live in rural southern Nova Scotia and my kids went to the local French (not immersion) elementary school until my son finished grade 6. We chose it because it was close, French and small (100-150 kids) and that was what I liked best about it.

What I didn't like were the stories I heard about kids bullying each other and not getting along, although my children weren't really involved in those situations.

We are now in our second year of homeschooling since my son was not too keen on going to the (much bigger) local high school and my daughter would not hear of going to school while her brother got to stay home.

So now I'm teaching grades 8 and 4 and we're all learning so much. And I get to do things like German and penmanship which they couldn't get in public school.

Jeannie said...

1. Unfortunately, I don't have a choice except public school for my little one. At least my kid is going to the school that I went to when I was little but I know I'll need to supplement teaching what they are not doing a good job of.

2. I like that I went there as well but really that is a bit superficial...but unlike me, so if people have a choice, I think it's important to look into them.

3. The big classes don't allow the teacher to sit with one child who may need one on one time. So that is where I come in to make sure my kid keeps up.

Good luck to ya! Love your blog :)

Anthony Spence said...

Hi Sharilyn, I would like to give compliment to your baby..She is looking Adorable and seems very happy..

Buy cialis said...

Excellent photo!! it reminded me when I take my little daughter to the Kindergarten, by the way the child in here is so cute!! I want to take her at home in order to she playing with my little daughter..

Holly said...

I chose my son's elementary school because it uses a Montessori approach--which is important for him since having choices and not being strapped to a desk much of the day is how he best learns. But I also loved how light filled the school is, and all how children's art covered every wall, everywhere you went. The principal of the school is also very important, they create the culture and set the tone for the school--ours is a superstar, so committed, emphasizing recognition of individual development and achievement, rallying the parents to get involved and stay involved-- I feel very fortunate to be in the school we are.