Friday, September 27, 2013

Fun parts and time limits

There are so many things a child has to experience early to appreciate. As a mother of young children I feel such pressure to give my kids opportunities to explore kid offerings.
Oakland has an attraction called Fairyland. Walt Dis.ney borrowed ideas from fairyland when designing Disneyland, so it has that type of nursery book feel. Fairyland is for kids 2-7. My kids love the place and realizing the age to appreciate the place is brief and with full day school, I feel restricted in activities we can do. Going on Saturday, with Saturday crowds is not in my definition of enjoyable.
I signed QT and myself up for a kid art class, he and I do storytime at the library and we have our visits to museums. TR loves school but I enjoyed taking both kids and watching them experience things together. On storytime day QT and I go to a coffee shop for hot chocolate, we go to the park and then the library. We were in L.A. when TR was 3, so QT is having different experiences than his sister.
QT loves the zoo, and will look at and discuss single animal for 10 or more minutes. TR goes to the zoo, tries to speed through to get to rides. Being able to take QT by himself is a good thing for him, but I am not much of a fan of the animals, so I have to focus hard on being interested.
TR prefers the aquarium, and I get that because zoo animals are not very exiting. I have been to the zoo close to closing, when the animals are awake and that is interesting.
From books to read, lessons to impart, experiences to have, kids require time and money. The brevity of time for early childhood, especially on top of work and school, makes me feel behind.
While full day kinder takes time from family and family activity, TR loves it. This week the kids got 5 sight words. TR learned hers by Tuesday. I personally don't know why kids who are being introduced to letter sounds would need to learn words but that is just me. TR's school used Letterbooks, which we both love. The kids start on C, then O, then G. The order is based on the shape of the letters. Those three letters are based on a circle. Each letter has its on book and the kids spend about 1-2 weeks on each letter, which is writing it, sounds it makes and it's use in words.
I am a fan! I enjoy how her teacher informs us of what she is teaching, why and how the parts fit together for long term education purposes. It is great to know the plan.
M battery is done....... Peace! And have a great weekend.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

API v. Other stuff

I tend to believe that parents who care about API believe all thoughtful, concerned parents also care about API.
I have so many parents start school conversations by mentioning API. I will feign like I care, no point in expressing views I wasn't asked about.
I read a Washington Post article and I liked this part:
Ranking schools is a disservice because it short-circuits the process of discovering what really counts — whether or not any individual school is a perfect match for a particular child in terms of engagement, academic programming, level of academic rigor, extracurricular offerings, etc. Rankings don’t help families narrow down or synthesize the information that matters to them; rankings trick people into thinking some criteria matter more than they should.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/private-schools-leader-vs-me/2012/07/11/gJQAPWP8dW_blog.html
I like the above writing because it captures my feelings on finding a school that fits. Lots of parents are consumed with API scores. If my child is learning, I don't care about the high or how low the scores. I do not get what is so satisfying about test scores.
I don't want or need a house in a high performing district. Tuition is cheaper than oppressive property tax and mortgage. A home in a good district probably comes with a mortgage of $1-2 million. That would be property tax of $15 to 20k each year. Tuition is cheaper and it ends.
But even if we had such money to burn on taxes, private schools suits our needs better. I wanted recess, I didn't want the testing pressure put on kids or teachers, I wanted a school that let kids have water and snacks at their desk, like real people get to do. Mr A attended private and he wanted his kids to do the same. Rankings were not what I was concerned about. I think parental support determine more than the school, so my list of important factors are not tied to rankings.
For some reason my father decided to tell me to buy a house in a city that lies inside of oakland. I would love to have a house in that city but not for the schools but for location, and because the crime there is nearly non-existent. It's amazing how a city that sits inside of Oakland can have almost no crime, when Oakland is lawless. The price not to live in oakland but to be smack in Oakland is high. I saw a 2 bedroom sell for $1.2 million last month.
My father did not bother to ask me my preferences. He focused on API scores and figured I did too. I listened politely because I doubt my views mattered to him. Anyway, I am okay with folks wanting what they want for their kids, but it's annoying when people assume I don't have a plan for my kids. I planned my kids and I have a plan for them. I sorta feel like people think black people do not plan their children and therefore need guidance in planning for those kids.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Two weeks in

We are concluding our second week of school. I believe we made a great choice of schools. The school is an amazing environment and they did not waste time on beginning the process of educating the students.
We are 5-6 minutes from the school, but in traffic the drive is 20+ minutes. The roads are parking lots. I can only speculate as to where this traffic comes from. The major freeway, known as Nimitz has been undergoing work and is a disaster. I think people are using the freeway near me as the alternate route to San Franciso and downtown Oakland.
I have to get in the traffic of two schools and apparently every parent at these two schools have to drop the kids off. When I was a kid, most people attended the neighborhood school. Now schools publicize test scores and tell parents which schools are failing and which are doing well. The schools I have to pass are high performing and by the look of the traffic, very few live close enough to walk to the schools.
I pass by multiple schools, on my way to TR's school and traffic does not exist at those schools.
I am hoping eventually the excitement will fade and kids will be on the bus...... If there is a bus. What also alerts me that most of the drivers do not live on the area, is that the school is accessible by two roads, but the other road is nearly empty. People who live in the area, probably know they do not have to wait in that line that looks to be over 30 minutes.
I was taking the back roads but with this traffic, when I come down the hill, I hit traffic. I plan to find a route that won't require me to leave home an hour early to travel 5 miles. One of the mom's lives in downtown Oakland and because her commute is against traffic, she gets there in 10 minutes. I do not consider these roads as traffic. It is oppression!
Other than the traffic I love the school and on the bright side, when I pick her up, there is no traffic.
TR seems very happy with her school, and I admire how disciplined the kids are being taught. TR comes in and insists on doing her homework. I was trying to get her to eat dinner but she said homework first. She is excited to go to school each day and has made friends with her schoolmates in varying grades.
The school feels like a home. This morning I went into the kitchen and got a glass of water. Its nice to have cooked meals on campus.
Now if I could figure out how to fly to the school everyday and escapee traffic . . . . . I will really enjoy my experience.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Time Management

Today TR told me that she enjoys her kindergarten. She says she gets to play inside and play outside. The teacher gives them free time and sets the timer for the time they will get. When the class is being really great. The teacher adds more time to the timer.
I was very excited to get that information because TR has been silent about what she does at school. She then told me that her 1st grade teacher gives non-candy treats when the class is great.
TR tells QT all the things he will have to look forward to when he starts at her kindergarten, so I eavesdrop on those conversations. I am not sure why my 5 year old wants to limit our information.
This year is the 100+ birthday of her school, so all of the students and staff took a group photo. The photo is on the schools website and TR is in the front posing and smiling.
This week we will have to manage school and gymnastics. My mother will pick TR up from school and I plan to feed both kids when she arrives and then we will head out for gymnastics. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. I hope TR can handle a long and busy day. Preschool was on different days than gymnastics, so we could rest before class. This week, my daughter will pull 12+ hour day.
I am hoping that I get organized enough to pack dinner so she can get a nap in the car instead of coming home to eat dinner. The other challenge is homework days are also gymnastic days.
I need sleep to be prepared for the week,