Thursday, May 19, 2011

End of Preschool, End of an Era….YIPPIE!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE ChildsWork. As a matter of fact I’ve loved ChildsWork since 2004 and sometimes with 2 kids at the school at once. Our family has spent a total of 8 years with CW.

I was a mom with a 3 year old and a baby back in the spring of 2004. We were in a play group. As with any play group there are always the moms who know everything. They have investigated the BEST schools and day cares and always have a babysitter that is just a little bit better than yours. Dang it. One day the conversation turns…..”Where’s little so-n-so going to preschool next year?” WHAT? Am I supposed to be on that already? It’s only February. “Oh yes, if you’re not on the list by now well you have no chance to get into the very best one……the one we’re in.” Dang it again.

I started my frantic search. I had been given lots of names by the mom who started my panic. “I am a good mom, I am a good mom……. How could I have let it go this far?” I went to lots of little schools in basements of houses. “At Butterfly Farts Preschool we think that the children already know everything. That we merely need to let them show us the loving beings they are meant to be.” REALLY? They haven’t met half the kids I know. Next I went to Co-Ops (not really knowing what that was all about). First of all we didn’t get in as most had one slot and 500 applicants. And secondly, ahhh, when my kid is at school I want to be out to coffee with friends, working out or at work. I get plenty of kid time when they’re not at school. And so it went…. School after touchy feely school. “Is this what preschool is meant to be?”

And then I checked out ChildsWork. Now this is what I was talkin’ ‘bout. Kids playing, being involved, teachers that were in it up to their elbows and parents that were at the school (but only when they wanted to be….in other words, not required to be there weekly). I was blessed to tour the school and spend time in Debbie’s Class on my first visit. The thing that I loved the most was that Debbie talked to the kids like they were people. She gave them choices within reason and expected them to act like people. In other schools that I saw the kids were treated like they couldn’t possibly understand what the sing-songy teacher was saying. It struck a chord with me. I remember when I was little and people would talk to me in that sing-songy tone. I distinctly remember thinking, “I’m short, not stupid.” Debbie talked to the kids like they were just shorter than her. I believe that in most cases, when you treat a small person like they have a brain, they will use it. What I saw reflected that. I was IN!!!

Or so I thought…because I was so late, I was wait listed. But a month or so later I WAS IN!!!! Or I should say my daughter was. I felt like I had won the lottery. And as it turns out I really did.

Since our first year starting in 2004 we have been a happy ChildsWork Family. I have been to 8 Family Nights and many more performances. In the early days there was separation anxiety at drop off. By the third kid he was pushing us out the door. “Aw, my baby….. look at….OK, I get it, I’m gone.” Really, he pushed me. He had watched his sister and then his brother go off to school since he was born. He was at ChildsWork when he was 4 days old and has been ever since.

We’ve spent a total of 8 school years with ChildsWork, 8 amazing years of growth and development. My children have been given the basis of knowledge and more importantly the desire to learn. When a kid at ChildsWork has a question they aren’t always given the answer. Often times their question turns into an investigation. Don’t we all learn better by investigating rather than by being fed information?

Letters have been a game….What’s in the “L” Letter Box today? What happens when I shine a light through a color? Two colors? Why does it become a different color? What makes a volcano? Where does rain come from? What is my community? And so much more….. And all these questions lead to amazing answers. When my 4 year old started talking about how the earth moves to make a volcano I was thrilled. He wasn’t told that, he investigated with his class and they discovered the answer together. They were very excited to figure it out. Then they played “Volcanologist” in the lab that they created. It is a natural progression of curiosity that leads to learning. Kids want to learn and ChildsWork gives them the base. They lead the discussion and discovery process. They are gently being guided and are learning how to learn. That is the best gift that a school or a teacher can give a child, the yearn to learn.

So as I sat in the audience of 50 parents, 30 sibs, 20 grandparents and about 1000 recording devices I was happy, thrilled really. I have been to my share of Family Nights. They have all been wonderful in one way or another. My kids have participated fully and also fallen off of stages. I thought “I won’t have to go to another one of these.” But how blessed are we that we had this privilege? We ended up at the right school because Butterfly Farts and all the like schools were full but we came away with so much more.

ChildsWork accepts all kinds of kids from all kinds of families and my kids learned to not question who a parent or a kid should be, that a family just requires love. They learned that learning is FUN. Teachers are there to help you learn and to help when you don’t quite know what to do. Success is in their hands and can be attained by working at it. All these lessons are their basis for success in school and life. As we finish our last few days at ChildsWork I am a little sad that this part of raising kids is over. But I am more glad that we had the experience. I couldn’t be more pleased to call myself a ChildsWork parent. It’s been a privilege and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oregon Trail

I wrote this while laying in bed last month in the middle of my Oregon Trail Experience. This was the day after I had been tortured by my book group about going out in the rain to have, what I expected, would be a trying time.
I am not a pioneer. I am a bit more of a princess if you want the truth. I have been given the privilege, yes Becky, the privilege of going with my daughter on her 4th grade over night to learn about the Oregon Trail.

I am here because I love my daughter and she wanted me to go. I am certainly not here because I love camping, being cold and being rained on. It is April and it snowed this morning. Seriously, there was snow here.

As the time drew near for this trip I found myself wanting to go less and less. Sophia, on the other hand, was growing increasingly excited. She kept on asking me if I was excited. I would respond, "Hell no!". OK I am not that mean I, of course, would say that I too was excited. One of the biggest problems was the weather. It started raining on October 1st and it hasn't stopped.....or at least that's what it seems like. In all seriousness there has been measurable rain 38 of the past 40 days and I believe it has rained EVERY day. I was not looking forward to standing and hiking in the rain for hours.

With this "oh so high" expectation how could I be disappointed? I couldn't. I am usually a "Glass half full" kinda gal but in this instance I had a totally empty glass attitude. The beauty of this attitude is if my expectation is met then there you have it. If it doesn't suck then it's a success. If I actually have fun then it's a wild success. I figure I can't go wrong.

The bus trip here took about an hour. During that trip the weather started out cloudy and as we progressed it started to pour. Crap, I was right.

Upon arrival the rain ceased. We went through about 2 hours of instructions, set up and getting situated. It was a bit excessive.

Time to get started, we went to stations to learn about life on the trail. We moved from station to station through lots of mud BUT there was no rain. And at one point we saw the ball of fire in the sky! We learned about building cabins, cutting and splitting wood, candle making, grinding grain, map making, fur trapping and what the pioneers needed to take with them for their trip. If you were ill prepared, you died, PERIOD. We learned that there were approximately 14 grave markers for each mile of the Oregon Trail. That is 28,000 deaths! Yikes!
After our stations we cooked our hamburgers for dinner on hobo stoves. The kids loved that.

Our late evening was spent in a ho down in the gym. The kids all learned the Virginia Reel. Sophia was going to be my partner but then changed her mind at the last minute. I didn't have a partner so I didn't get to dance. Oh well. They had a blast. I know I sound like an old biddy but, why can't we have dances like that any more? The kids had so much fun, it's social and there's no pressure. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids having fun.

The last event of the day was the campfire which, in this case, was inside. It was too cold out. There were some camp song and each of the 3 schools performed a little skit or song. Being prejudiced like I am (and right) our's was far.

We finally got the kids in bed at 10. They were tired but all stayed up talking until 10:30. I finally said "enough" and the party was over.

Tomorrow we have a few more stations and then we're headed home. So far it's been fun and a pleasure to be a chaperon. See, now I'm "Winning!" I expected nothing and it's better than that. I say you can't go wrong when you assume it will suck and then it doesn't.