September 28, 2015


I've fallen off the blogging wagon yet again, and seem to have just been focusing on race recaps.  There have been some changes in my family that are pretty significant, and I want to focus on that right now.

School started a little over a month ago---and this time, we're in two new schools!

D is now in 6th grade, which is middle school here.  How I have a child old enough to be in middle school is truly beyond my comprehension.  He's 11!  I remember his first day of kindergarten so clearly-----and now he's out of elementary school and in middle school.  I am continuing to try to soak it all up---it goes so fast. I only have 7 more years left with him at home.  I can cry just thinking of that.

He's made a great adjustment to middle school.  His school is on a block system, which means that he only has 3 classes a day.  They alternate days---one day he has Language Arts, Science and P.E., and the next he has Social Studies, Math and Band.  Because there are only 3 classes a day (plus a homeroom that is the only daily class), each class is 90 minutes, giving them time to really dig into a subject.  But not only is he on a block system, it's a ROTATING block.  So Monday he will have periods 1-3-5.  Tuesday will be 2-4-6.  Then Wednesday it's 3-5-1, Thursday it's 4-6-2, Friday it's 5-1-3, and Monday it's 6-2-4. It sounds confusing, but the kids understand it within a few days.  I actually like it. It means that EVERYONE has every period at each time of the day at some point.  Every child will have math first thing in the morning, when their minds are fresh, and every child will have math after lunch, when they are more sleepy.  Every child will have P.E. first thing in the morning, when it's cooler, and every child will have P.E. after lunch, when it's hot. It's a great equalizer!  And, since there are only 3 classes a day (and really, only 2 academic classes a day) he doesn't have TONS of homework each day. Although, he really does still have a lot.

This year he is in GATE (Gifted and Talented).  He tested into the GATE program in 4th grade, but there really is no program in elementary school, with the budget cuts.  Here, GATE comes into play in middle school. The GATE classes are Language Arts and Social Studies.  He had a choice to be either in homogeneous class (all GATE students) or heterogeneous class (half GATE, half high-achieving but not GATE identified). He wanted homogeneous, and had to enter a lottery for it---and got it. I warned him that he would not be the smartest kid in the class anymore in this type of class, which could be good for him---and he's ok with that.  His math class is the highest there is too (there is no official GATE class for math, but they place kids in math based on their MAP scores).  He's in a compacted 6/7 class, meaning that he's getting a year and a half of math in one year.  Halfway through the year he'll get the 7th grade book.  This also means that he's past the point of me helping him in math.  Luckily, if he needs help, my husband, J, is a math whiz (his dream is to get his masters degree in math). I am great at Language Arts, writing, etc, so between the two of us we have him covered.

He also switched instruments this year. In 5th grade band, he learned the saxophone.  This year he wanted a change, and opted to play the baritone. (Click here to see what this is. I'd never heard of it until this year). He has to practice this most days, in addition to his homework, and also in addition to his guitar (he's been taking guitar lessons since 3rd grade). He has joined the astronomy club (meets once a month after school) and has made a few new friends, although he largely seems to be hanging out with his friends from his old school.  He had a rough start to the year with a few instances of irresponsibility, but now we have a plan that he follows to make sure all homework is done, paperwork is signed, etc.  I'm incredibly proud of him.

On the other hand, my daughter, A, is also in a new school.  She's now 9, and in 3rd grade.  We made the very difficult decision to place her in a special day class. She's been in general ed this whole time.  She's been doing ok, but not great, and between some behavioral problems she's exhibiting and the fact that she needs more one-on-one with reading comprehension, a smaller class was the way to go.  A general ed class has up to 28 kids (and up to 34 in 4th and 5th grade!) and not only does the teacher not have a lot of time for one-on-one attention, but it's very noisy, which is difficult for a deaf/hard-of-hearing kid.  This new class only has 11 kids (it will have no more than 14), and has two teachers.  It's a NSH class (non-severely handicapped) and the only special ed class-type in my district that is is on the academic track.  (We had to switch schools because at our old elementary school, the special day classes were autism classes)  Kids here are geared for a high school diploma, while other special ed classes are geared to a high school certificate.  In fact, their goal is to get the kids out of hte NSH class at some point and mainstream them back into general ed. That is my hope for A.  But, if she needs this class for the duration, then we'll do what we need to do.

She is getting lots of one-on-one.  Actually, she's in the highest reading and math groups, and for at least one of those groups she's the only one in it! I was nervous putting her in this class, but I'm thrilled so far at what I'm seeing her accomplish.  It was hard to admit that she needed more, that she needed special ed, but she does.  I'm proud of her, and frankly, I'm proud of myself and my husband, for recognizing this and placing her where she belongs.  She does miss her old school, and sometimes cries that she wants to go back, but for the most part she loves her new school and teacher.  It's good that we still have Brownies twice a month, because that's where the majority of here friends are and she can still see them. But she's made a few new friends at the new school as well, so that's good.

In short, both kid are where they need to be. Both kids have special needs of sorts, and I've placed them in classes that address that.  GATE or Special Day, each class is geared to my son and daughter, respectively.  I'm hoping that what I'm seeing during this first month continues all year!

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