Tag Archives: school

Need for routine

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I think I’ll just cut to the chase with this…

I hate when the kids have too many days off of school.

When they have a Friday off, I have to try to get more things done earlier in the week so that I don’t have to drag them around on all of my Friday errands. It disrupts my exercise routine as well. This also means that I miss out on my “me” time. I’ve learned in the past few months just how important my “me” time is for my overall well-being. Even if it is just a mere 20 minutes to sit in the house, alone, and do whatever it is I want…I really need to have “me” time. When they have Monday off, I don’t have that last day to finish up my own homework for Tuesday. I also miss out on my “me” time there too. I typically end up saving my grocery shopping trip til Wednesday, which totally messes with the menu for the week. When they go and give the kids a 1/2 day Thursday, off Friday and off Monday, then that messes with everything.

My daily routine at home is all out of whack. Their daily routine at school is all out of whack. Not to mention that this weekend we were visiting my in-laws, so I have a whole weekend of housework that I’m behind on. So yes, I was happy to send them off to school this morning. Even though I had school as well, at least they were re-entering their routine. umm…no. This was just enough of a break that it is going to take them the rest of this week to readjust back to the routine. That means a week of poor home to school communication, lost papers, forgotten belongings, etc.

The first 3 weeks back from winter break were all short weeks (4 days, 4 1/2 days, 4 days). They had 2 entire 5 day weeks before having last week and this week all messed up again. Maybe it just seems worse now, but I don’t remember their schedules being so choppy in the fall.

We’ve known for a long time that Tommy needs structure and routine. Now I’m starting to see that Anna and I need it nearly as much as he does. On days like today, I feel like someone pushed our reset button and we lost “unsaved information”.

Guess I’m still on my soap box

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Oh I had planned to put this to rest for a little while…I really had. But, I just can’t seem to do that yet.

It’s snowing today. I just knew that I’d see some crazy stuff when I picked the kids up from school today. When there’s snow coming down, people drive like idiots and don’t always make smart decisions about where to put their cars and how to get their children to these cars. Sadly, what I saw didn’t fall into that category.

Texting while driving…anywhere…is against the law. Cell phone usage in a school zone is against the law. Put the 2 together, and I’m sure that’s a hefty fine. What did I see? I saw a parent, on her way to pick up her child, TWD in a school zone while it was snowing.  Seriously…does anyone NOT see why that is a dumb and dangerous thing to do??

Of course, while I was parked and waiting my turn to enter the parking lot, a village snow plow  whizzed by and appeared to be going over the posted school zone speed limit. Guess maybe it’s time for a phone call to the village about that one.

School zone common sense

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Some of the parents that I encounter in the drop-off line at the children’s school seem to be lacking some common sense. Lets think about this. There are 400+ children arriving at school each day. I’d guess 300 of those children are arriving by bus and the other 100 or so are being dropped off by parents (either driving or walking). Doesn’t this seem like a place where one would want to exercise caution while driving?

I’ve been dropping Tommy off at school for 2 1/2 years now, so I’ve seen quite a bit. I know that when it rains there are more parents driving and they don’t all know the parking lot procedures. I know that when it is cold, the number of cars goes up as well. I have come to expect these things.

That being said, I’ve seen my fair share of things happen within 2 blocks of the school. Some are just annoying, others are downright dangerous.

  1. While in the drop off line, parents put their car in park, get out, hug and kiss their kid, and some even watch him/her walk to the door before getting back in the car and getting out of the way of others. This happens more often at the beginning of the school year, likely with Kindergarten parents who don’t know the system, but there are a few regulars even at this point in the year. People, if you or your child need this kind of send off, then park your car and stay out of the flow of traffic.
  2. The rules state that children are only to exit their cars on the passenger side. This is for safety reasons, and I think it is a pretty duh kind of thing. Nope…still have parents whose kids exit on the drivers side, possibly stepping right into the path of a moving vehicle. I don’t really know what is up with these parents. Do they not know the rule? Does this not seem like common sense even without a rule? Do they think that they are exempt from the rule?
  3. Once you have dropped your child off and are pulling away from the curb, you need to check behind you to see that you have clearance to do so. This should be the same as pulling out of a parallel parking space. Sadly, this is not 2nd nature to these people. I almost got hit today by someone who just pulled away without even looking over his shoulder. When people drive like this, it is even more clear why the rule in #2 is a necessity.
  4. When the parking lot gets full and the line is backed up out onto the street (as a result of car volume and made worse by #1 above), things become more difficult. It is a residential street (which is good), but traffic will back up in both directions. This becomes more dangerous because those just passing through will insist on pulling around this stopped traffic. Add to this, that some parents pulling out of the parking lot see all the stopped traffic and do not anticipate that someone might be pulling around. I’m surprised that his has not resulted in an accident yet, as I watched one nearly happen this morning. Oh…and did I mention that the entrance of the parking lot is at the edge of a curve in the road? This curve then becomes a blind curve when filled with backed up cars. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…accident waiting to happen.
  5. Another rule states that children are not to be dropped off on the street that the school is on. There are many reasons why this is the case. Nevertheless, you’ll still see parents pull up along the curb and dump kids out every now and then.
  6. Children are to cross at the crosswalk.  Another total duh kind of rule. Still…you see it from time to time. With all the traffic nonsense that I’ve already described, I don’t know how anyone in their right mind would think that letting their child run across the street in the middle of backed up traffic on a curved residential street with morning sun blazing in one direction…but still it happens. We also have parents who park their cars on the street and walk their kids across the street…and most of them do not utilize the crosswalk. I guess crosswalks are only for school children and not parents. After all…one might have to walk an extra block to the crosswalk and back.

These past 2 days, I’ve seen things that go beyond the “usual” antics. I don’t understand why people do these things. Are they really that concerned that their child might be late for school? Is it their own schedule and the possibility of being late for work? Is it a  failure to realize that they’re putting their child in danger? Sure, I want to make sure that my children aren’t late for school, but I’m not going to put their lives in danger to be sure that happens. Yesterday, for whatever reason, traffic in the neighborhood was backed up more than usual. Parents were clearly becoming impatient.

  • One parent let his/her kids out of the car while stuck in the backed up traffic. Those children then proceeded to run the remaining block or 2 to school.
  • 2 other parents pulled around the stopped traffic (on the blind curve), used driveways to turn their cars around and then let their kids out on the side of the street as well.

Today though, what I experienced really proved to me that some parents are putting their children in harms way. When I pulled up to the stop sign where the crosswalk is located, there was a minivan pulled up along the curb on the other side. It was halfway out into traffic and its back end was at least partially blocking the crosswalk. One would assume that a child was being unloaded. I came to a complete stop. I looked at the crossing guard. He did not raise his stop sign for me, but I could tell by the look on his face that he was concerned/confused about what was going on across the street. Without his signal for me to remain stopped, I looked for traffic and began to pull through the intersection. At the moment, a child (that had been dropped off where he shouldn’t have been, by a vehicle that was blocking the crosswalk) came running out from behind the minivan and across the street. The crossing guard barely had time to put up his stop sign (and FWIW the crossing guard did step out in front of my car) for me to stop before hitting this child. I was aware of the car, aware that a child was likely being unloaded, and that this was a bad situation. But I tell ya…watching the way others drive around school, I’m not so sure that others would’ve been so aware of what was going on there. So yes, I probably should’ve just stayed stopped until I knew exactly what was going on. The thought that I could’ve hit a child, in a crosswalk, right in front of my children’s school really upsets me.

The good news about all this is that I brought it to the attention of the principal yesterday and she was as concerned as I was. She called me this morning and we spoke at great length about the situation.

 

I don’t do closure

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The dream of not having to get up and rush out to work everyday is finally within my reach.  It’s so close, I can almost reach out and grab it.  In just over 2 weeks, I will walk out the door at my current place of employment for the last time.  Standing between me and that day is what seems like an eternity.

Sure, I’ve had these plans in mind for months.  I’ve been working on making them happen.  I’ve been looking forward to my new start.  But now that it’s so close, I have to face the reality.  There is going to be closure.  Let me tell you, closure and I are not good friends.  Take the excitement I have about starting school and embarking on my new journey.  Add to it a strong dose of anxiety about new, unknown territory.  What you have there is already an emotional tidal wave.  Top it off with the fact that everyone and their brother here at work is going to want to say goodbye to me, and you’ve got yourself a really big mess.

This is a reality that I knew would come.  Right now, the excitement is pushing through pretty strong and is drowning out the anxiety.  That surely won’t last.  I expect that by the time I return from our vacation, the anxiety level will be maxed out. 

On my last day, my group is having a “going away lunch” for me.  While I do appreciate the gesture, I don’t want to have to stand in front of people and say goodbye.  It’s going to be tough enough to have people come to me one by one.  At the lunch, I’m sure there will be some expectation that I’ll say something to the group.  There will also be people there that I don’t really feel the need to say goodbye to, but I’ll probably have to do it…as a formality. 

I don’t want to have a grand sendoff.  I just want to leave quietly…like I would any other day. 

Of course, I’d still do a major happy dance in the parking lot.

A new chapter

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Last Tuesday was Tommy’s last day of first grade.  I am a bit sad to see it come to an end, as I think I will be at the end of every school year.  On the other hand, this year has been an intersting chapter in our lives, and I’m happy to say that we’ve survived it.

Academically, Tommy is doing well.   His report card shows that he excels in reading, performs at grade level in math, but is behind in writing.  His teacher reports that he is reading at an end of 2nd grade level, which we are very proud of.  Math, I think he is capable of much more than he gives himself credit for, but we have time to work on that.  Overall, pretty much what I expected.

A couple weeks ago, I had the follow-up meeting with the school psychologist and Tommy’s teacher about the observations and rating scales.  The report was a lot for me to digest at once.  I hadn’t realized that the method the psychologist was using for the observations would actually allow her to quantify Tommy’s percentage of time on and off task.  Wow.  I knew that he had a problem with attention and focus, but I had no idea just how prevalent it was in his school days.  Not only does the report provide numbers, but she has also included a short narrative description of what she observed at each session.  It was like having a birds eye view into the classroom. (which I’ve often said I would like to have!)  During her observations, he was reported to be on-task ~50% of the time.  His off-task bahviors are predominantly passive, with motor not far behind.  In other words, when he’s not on-task, he’s either staring off into space or wiggling and fidgeting.  It is clear from this report that we need to follow up on this.

In the days following the meeting, I spent a lot of time talking to other parents about their experiences with their children.  I went in search of recommendations for all sorts of medical professionals.  I pondered this quite a bit.  I didn’t really know which way to go, who to see, or what to expect.  At some point though, my mommy instinct kicked back in and I was able to see more clearly.  I wanted to take him to someone who would look at the whole picture, not someone who would read this report and slap a label on him.  I wanted to be confident that we had considered all the options.  Obiously there are attention and focus problems so ADHD is a likely possibility.  But, what about anxiety and self-confidence and social skills?  Do any of those play a role in this?? 

Based on a recommendation from another parent (which was backed up by Tommy’s OT), I chose to contact a clinical psychologist.  What she will do is a full cognitive assessment.  It will take place over 3 sessions of ~2.5 hours each.  After all the tests are scored/evaluated, she says we will have a better picture of “why we’re seeing the types of behaviors we’re seeing, and what we can do about it.”  Sounds right on target with what I was looking for.  We’re on the calendar for these sessions at the end of July, so it will be done before school starts.  I’m anxious to see how this goes.

Thus, we begin a new chapter.

anyone fluent in 1st grader?

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While there is an expectation that 1st graders will demonstrate more responsibility than they did in Kindergarten, I still think that a few basic rules apply.  The one that I have in mind today…

If there isn’t a note from the teacher about it, then it likely isn’t true.

No, I don’t expect the teacher to send home notes about everything, but the most important, critical information definitely does come to us in writing and not by word of mouth from a 6 year old. 

Last night at dinner, my son said something about school lunch today.  It went something like this…”Mommy, the teacher said that we have to bring something for lunch tomorrow that we don’t have to throw away.”  I admit, I dismissed the comment at that time.  We were trying to get dinner on the table, but Tommy was still struggling (big time) with completing his homework.  I thought perhaps he was just trying to run a diversion so that he might get out of finishing his assignment.  I had fully intended to go back and try to decipher it.  Unfortunately, I forgot.

This morning, his statement popped into my head again, but it was one of our more chaotic mornings.  We were very crunched for time, so I didn’t mention it to him.  After all, I pay for him to get school lunch, so what he “brings” for lunch is non-issue in our house.  But, as we raced into the circle drive a mere 3 minutes before the bell was to ring, he said it again.  There was a sense of panic in his voice, that seems to have stuck with me today. 

Tommy: “Mommy!  The lunch thing!” 

Me: “There wasn’t a note in your folder, so you’ll get school lunch like you always do.”

Tommy: “but Mommy…the teacher SAID!!!”

Me: “What Tommy, what exactly did she say?”

Tommy: “She said that we’re supposed to bring something for lunch that we don’t have to throw away.”

Me: “Well…I didn’t have a note, so I don’t know what that means.  I’m sure you’ll have lunch today.”

The fact that he said the exact same thing both times is a bit troubling to me.  I’m very curious to see how this little story ends.  Anyone else fluent enough in 1st grader speak to venture a guess as to what the teacher might have actually said??  Did I make a fatal mommy mistake??

Best words I heard all week

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Friday morning, I had a meeting with Tommy’s teacher and the school psychologist.  This meeting was to address my request that Tommy be evaluated.  I must admit, I was really nervous going into this meeting.  I knew what I wanted to get out of it, but I had no idea if I would have to fight for it, or if it would just be handed to me.  When the psychologist called me to schedule the meeting, she said that it was to discuss the process, and “when and if” Tommy would be evaluated.  I feared the worst. 

 Like I said, this meeting was their legally required response to my request.  They recognized my concern that he might be falling behind.  Because he is currently performing at grade level, there is no justification for a full evaluation.  But…there are other things that they can and will be doing.  The psychologist will be doing “time on task” observations and the teacher and I will be completing what’s called a Connors Rating Scale.  From this, the psychologist will compile a report and likely make a recommendation that we seek a medical diagnosis.  OK…I’m good with this.  (This is not exactly what I thought we’d get, but I’m glad to see that they want to do something.)  But, one of the biggest questions I still had was about what would happen next year.  Before I even had to ask, they assured me that Tommy is “on the radar” as a student who needs assistance, and that “he will be placed in a supported classroom next year.”  If we do end up with a medical diagnosis, then he will get a 504 plan.

 Umm…wow!  My faith in our school district has definitely been renewed.