Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Round-Up!

Yay! At long last we're teetering on the edge of "formal" education. Nicholas will be entering Kindergarten in the fall. Can I get a HELL YEAH and/or IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME?!?! As a June birthday, he's on the younger end of the age range for his class, but he is very, very ready for Kindergarten. And so am I. The Kindergarten Round-Up was last week and he's officially enrolled. Unless we change our minds about sending him to the local public school, which is possible but unlikely.

Nicholas going to Kindergarten doesn't make me feel sad or nostalgic. I know so many mothers feel this way - that they're little baby is getting so big and going off to school and all. But me? I LOVE my kids getting older (I don't, however, love that that also means *I'M* getting older, too, but that's beside the point). Babies just aren't my thing. I sighed a big sigh of relief when Nicholas turned 3. Preschoolers are more my speed. Toddlers are better than babies for me, too. As trying as Lauren is at 2, I much more enjoy it than the first year of life. For me it's all about getting to know who my kids are. What they like and don't like. What moves them. What excites them. What they think about. You don't get that sort of interaction with a baby. Babies are cute and adorable and you love them, but I've always been happier as they get older [shrug]. So Nicholas going off to Kindergarten is, in my opinion, a huge milestone to be celebrated vs. mourning the end of his "at home" years. This opens up so many doors for him! New friends! New experiences! Some good, some bad. But that's what makes it so engaging for me. For both of us.

The Kindergarten program at the public school nearest us seems to be a very strong one. One of the biggest reasons we moved to this area is for the schools. This current year is the first time the school has offered all-day Kindergarten. We were tempted to do the all-day program with Nicholas, but we've opted to go another route. It seems the "academics" section of the K programs all happens in the morning anyway (or afternoon, if you're in the afternoon 1/2 day session. We live on the side of the boundary line that goes to the morning 1/2 day session). You have to pay for all-day kindergarten - about $280/mo - for your kid to eat lunch, take a short nap, and then get free choice time. They might get some extra help from the teacher on supplemental reading or something, but it's mostly unstructured time. There doesn't seem to be an educational advantage to the all-day option, so we're skipping it. We are, however, planning to enroll Nicholas in the Spanish after school class. The school has several after-school classes you can choose to enroll in (for a fee, natch), and one of them is Spanish. They also have a science class, a baton twirling class (no joke, they offer a baton twirling class. I thought they were kidding. They weren't), and a few others I can't remember right now. But Spanish is good. So instead of spending the money on after-school babysitting we'll spend it on Spanish classes. And soccer.

We met the teachers, and they're all quite competent. That is, if you can accurately judge competency by a single meeting. But they seem to be good, nurturing teachers who've been around awhile and have lot of energy. Which must be a requirement for teaching Kindergarten, I would think. They have 3 teachers in total: 2 teach all-day Kinder, and one teaches both the morning and afternoon 1/2 day sessions. She's Nicholas's teacher - Miss Crabtree. Doesn't that sound straight out of a sitcom? Miss Crabtree? She's the youngest of the bunch and appeared to be about 14 years old when we first saw her across the cafeteria. Upon closer inspection, she's in her late 20's and has been teaching a few years. She may be young, but she runs the class very efficiently. She has to - she has only from the hours of 8:15 - 10:50am to squeeze in the curriculum to a class of 18-22 five-year-olds. Thankfully the school gets a LOT of parental support in the form of volunteers and they do most of the prepping for her so she can devote all her time to actually teaching. Works for me. I just wish the hours were a tad longer because, c'mon, 2.5 hrs?? That's barely enough time for me to run any errands or do something with Lauren before school is over for the day.

The good news is that ALL kindergarteners get to ride the school bus. Once you're in 1st grade you must live 1 mile away or further to ride the school bus. We're about .8 or .9 miles from school, so we may not be bussed next year. But this year we're bussing it all the way, baby. Do you know how much time that's going to save me?? I won't have to load up both kids into the car, drive that short distance to the school but have to park far away from the door, unstrap the kids, walk Nicholas into his classroom, then reload Lauren and drive back home, only to barely have time to do anything before having to reload Lauren back into the car and go pick up Nicholas from school. By riding the bus, I only have to walk him to the bus stop, wave good-bye, and walk back inside. Then be ready to meet him at the bus stop a few hours later. Very low on the hassle scale. I'm stoked, and so is Nicholas. A win-win. I always have the option of picking him up, of course, or walking to school with him (which we'll do on nice days), but it's so handy to have the bus for the icky rainy days, of which there are LOTS during the school year. Most days, in fact. I just hope we can continue to bus it next year and beyond.

So yes, my baby is about to start Kindergarten and we couldn't be happier about it. I think it's the beginning of a very exciting time. I can't wait to see what the year brings.

Comments:
I am the complete opposite! My little girl won't be five until September, so we have the option of sending her or waiting another year. I am waiting another year and wonder if it is because I can't let her go!!! My favorite age so far is 3mo - 2 years!!! I love the cooing and the cuddling. The just learning to walk and getting into everything! But, I really "listened" to what you had to say - there are many positives of growing up and I have to start focussing on those b/c it is going to happen no matter what I do. So, thanks for the post!
 
wow, sounds like you have it all nailed down!
 
How exciting!!!!!!!! Nathan loves the bus and so do I lol.

The local preschool here offers that and we both love it! :)

CONGRATS on the big milestone hon!
 
I agree with you. I have enjoyed my children getting older. There is so much more we can do together. Although, unlike you, I know the first day of kindy will be bittersweet for me.
 
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