Tag Archives: First Grade

Not the Same School

30 Jul

As the school year came to a close in June, Aidan said goodbye to her elementary school. The plan was to move from Lewisville to Richardson a month before she begins first grade.  I felt sentimental during the last time I walked her home after school. We made that same walk so many times, often snacking or sharing a cool drink on the way. Aidan said we could come back from Richardson sometime and do that walk again. I smiled, quietly knowing that her idea would never actually happen.

A few variables prevented that move to Richardson from happening, but we got some surprise news this week that still means Aidan will not be going back to the same school. Oh, she’s going back to the same school building. It retains the same name. Yet something else has changed.

The latest public school accountability ratings in Texas means my daughter’s school has been downgraded from Exemplary to Recognized. It’s a change shared by many schools around the DFW area and around the state. The story was covered by numerous media outlets, including my ex-wife’s radio station, KRLD, a CBS property.

A year ago, the designation of Exemplary or Recognized didn’t matter to me. I wanted her in a good school but I wasn’t aware of the differences. After investing months in her education—and countless hours helping her develop reading and math skills—the change is significant. Even before this news, I was already responding to the normal summertime loss of skills developed in the classroom.

Now that I have this news, helping Aidan do homework in the coming year becomes even more important to me. She’s a bright girl and I want to inspire her to challenge herself more inside and outside the classroom. I also want to facilitate her exploration of new subjects and activities. This may be the year she begins to learn to play the piano. We may also consider signing up for a sport, such as soccer.

I have a feeling we’ll be watching less TV in the coming year and spending more time engaged in educational activities and outdoor recreation. I’m even thinking of setting up an agreement where she has to earn her hours of TV. I think the new brand of structure will be a valuable part of her experience as a first grader.

She doesn’t know anything about the ratings changes. She doesn’t even have an understanding of how different first grade will be yet. She does know that new experiences are coming her way. As August begins, new clothes and new school supplies will accompany the start of a new school year. While she’s enjoying the excitement of all that newness, I will be reminding myself that her school’s new ratings will challenge me to step up my commitment to her education.

Sure, I’ll pause to take plenty of pics of her first day of First Grade, then it’s all business from that point on. That reminds me, I also will need something new before the school year begins: a new wallet filled with cash. I wonder if I can find one at Marshall’s.

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Home School Me

12 Jun

When my daughter brings up a topic once, I know she’s interested in it. When she brings it up twice in the same day, it must be highly important. I don’t know if she overheard a conversation her mother and I had with a mom who home schools her children, or if she simply was struck by inspiration, but she asked me if we could home school her.

As a caring father, I like to know where my daughter’s ideas come from so I asked her directly. She said she didn’t hear anyone talk about home schooling; she simply thought it would be a way to spend more time with me and her mother. She makes an excellent point.

Her mom works 11 am – 7 pm. I work as a freelance writer and actor so my schedule tends to be fairly flexible. We could conceivably start the school day at 8 am with two hours of lessons from her mother, followed by an hour of teaching by me, then lunch. Even lunch time could provide an opportunity for learning as we make recipes together or discuss nutritional value of different foods. After lunch, I could teach for another three hours, covering subjects such as English, Math, Science and History. Music lessons from me would be more music appreciation than anything else, as we listen and discuss various styles of music from the last century primarily. We could also sign her up for formal lessons and the piano would be her mother’s first choice. I would enjoy handling physical education duties, and could incorporate plenty of recreation time into the average week. It all seems manageable on the surface.

As I chatted with Aidan about it, I didn’t have all of these thoughts in my head. I was more focused on investigating what thoughts she had. I suppose she may imagine a lack of structure and more flexible views on rules at home versus at school. She didn’t actually say that but it seems reasonable knowing her as I do.

Rather than give her the answer of no, I explained to her a few basic ideas I have about home schooling. My first comment was about how we could start home schooling this summer. She didn’t seem to like that idea. I explained that home schooled students tend to be in class year round, although I have no idea if that’s really true. I simply remember one home schooled student telling me something similar to that at some point. I wasn’t trying to coerce Aid into dropping the idea; I was just taking away some of the perceived attractiveness of staying at home to learn. I did provide a counterpoint though: I said despite the longer school year (most likely), the school days would tend to be shorter because she would be the only student and that would allow us to cover material faster.

I don’t think the potential shorter school day felt promising to her. She seemed to be stuck on the notion that she would have to be in class during the summer. Telling my six year old that she could be “in school” all summer was probably equivalent to telling her she can’t have any more sleepovers.

Now let’s see how quick she is to bring it up again