Wednesday, August 4, 2010

First Day of School

Today was the first "official" day of the fall semester for Dean at Children's Garden Preschool. It's his 2nd year there and as I mentioned previously, he is in the Turtle class this year - for now anyway. He may be moving up mid-year to the Dolphin class depending on our decision for when to start him in kindergarten, which I'm sure I'll go into great detail about at another time as I am agonizing over the decision that could potentially affect his education and school experience for the rest of his life. I never knew I'd be making these types of stressful, possibly life-altering decisions so soon!! But I've been doing lots of research and have been in contact with Sue Pennington in Oklahoma, who is a well-known expert in the field of Education for Gifted Children. We had a very interesting long conversation last week about Dean, my options, and her experience with children like him. I have a lot to think about. Right now though her initial suggestion, based on the things he is doing now as a 3-yr-old, is to have him tested (probably a battery of aptitude tests including an IQ test) as she feels he is showing signs of being "extraordinarily gifted" (whatever that means), but basically I am going to have my hands full in the future and will likely need to be extremely involved in his education from the beginning. So not only do I now need to decide when to start him in kindergarten but look into where his educational needs will best be met - at our public school (the one near us is actually better than most on the island, but Hawaii public schools are in a sad state right now) or start looking into private school options, which are extremely expensive. I've only had a chance to explore the cost of one local private school and the yearly tuition for lower elementary school is about $11,000. {sigh}. That's not exactly in our budget right now. However, the more research I do about gifted kids and really look at the things Dean is doing now, the more freaked out I get. Especially when I see how CRAZY fast he seems to be progressing completely and totally on his own. And then I read so much about how children like Dean (and can I just stop for a minute and mention how much I really REALLY hate using phrases such as "children like Dean" as I personally think it is a terrible thing to label any child, but how else do you have this conversation!?) have very distinct educational needs (often termed "Gifted Needs" Education) but that very few teachers are actually trained to meet those needs. So much of the focus is on Special Needs Education (an area that should definitely get it's fair share of attention), but Gifted Needs kids are often completely overlooked. And interestingly, the research is showing that Gifted Needs kids have educational needs that are as different from the "norm" as Special Needs kids. So yeah, I'm freaking out just a little about all of this. All I really want is for Dean to be happy and to enjoy his childhood. The crazy thing is that right now he seems happiest when he's learning, and most of that is completely intrinsic, self-motivated learning. So how do you NOT let a child pursue that?

Anyway....back to the first day of school....

So even though Dean has been attending Children's Garden all summer, the past 2 months have been a pretty laid back "Summer Program" with fewer kids and less structure than the regular school year. But today marked the start of the regular Turtle curriculum.

I tried to get at least one cute "First Day of School" picture of Dean before we left the house, but he wasn't exactly cooperating, as you can see below...

He's still pretty cute though!

Here's a look at what his day will be like as a Turtle:
8:15-8:30 - Outside time in the Big Play yard
8:30-8:40 - Wash Hands
8:40-9:00 - Circle Time
9:00-9:30 - Snack / Potty / Carpet Time
9:30-10:20 - Outside Time
10:20-10:30 - Wash Hands
10:30 - 11:30 - 1/2 Group Journey Into Literacy
1/2 Group Art / Preacademics (switch at the half hour)
11:30-11:45 - Music
11:45-12:30 - Lunch
12:30-2:00 - Naptime
2:00-3:00 - Wake up time, Potty, Snack
3:00-3:45 - Playhouse
3:45-5:00 - Small Yard

We usually try to pick Dean up around 4:30 so he has plenty of time to play outside with his friends after naptime, but it's not too long of a day for him. Right now his best buddies are Maddox and Cole. The other kids in his class that I see him playing with are Jovie and Crash. He is ALWAYS filthy at the end of the day, and I mean FILTHY - the first thing we do is take a bath when we get home. Sometimes we don't even let him in the house, but just hose him off outside!! None of the kids wear shoes at school, but there is a "shoe shelf" outside the classroom where they leave their slippers (flip flops). It's so cute to see all those little slippers all lined up outside the door!!

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