Jenna and Skye started school today. We are excited the girls are in great schools and have excellent teachers. Jenna is in a multiage (1st and 2nd grade) class at Fairfield and Skye is in a multiage (3rd and 4th grade) class at Burns School. We had never heard of the multiage concept but think it will be great. Not all the classes in their schools are multiage so we are fortunate they were placed in them. The advantage, we’re told, is that the younger pupils can be assisted by the older ones or work at an advanced pace while the older pupils benefit from tutoring their younger classmates. We’ll see how it works but I think it’s a promising idea. Being in a multiage class environment with two teachers also means they’ll have the same teachers and classmates next year. It was neat to see the teachers and students interact at the open house last night. They knew each other and had a good rapport. I think the continuity will be beneficial especially early on in the second year.
Friends and family who know that Skye was a first grader last year may be wondering why she is in a third/fourth grade class this year. Yesterday we finally won our long battle to have her placed in a grade appropriate to her academic level. Last year in Kansas we asked to have her placed in a second grade class and were told it was against the district policy. Her teacher was able to arrange to have her attend a second grade class. She was technically still a first grader. This was acceptable to us only because we knew we were moving. We were hopeful Maine would be more accommodating.
The principle at Burns School initially denied our request to enroll her in third grade. We asked him to consult with her teachers in Wichita and scheduling conflicts prolonged their communications. When we met with him to present our case last week he again would not acquiesce. He had many concerns about “skipping” her because he didn’t know her and didn’t know us. Every parent, he said, thinks their child is a genius. He was concerned she would be overwhelmed in a class of older pupils where she wouldn’t be the star. While we appreciated his time and geniune concern we knew enrolling her in second grade was the wrong decision for Skye. So I argued my case in a letter to the district superintendent. Two days ago Skye was evaluated by a reading specialist and yesterday she met with a teacher who evaluated Skye’s abilities in mathematics. Skye did awesome!
When Kirsten and I met with the principle after the examinations he felt better about letting us enroll Skye in third grade. Although his concerns remained he allowed us to make the decision. We had made up our minds two years earlier and were elated to have finally won. We hope Skye will find challenges in her new class and learn what it’s like to have classmates who know the answers before she does.
Skye considered herself a second grader last year. Therefore, while putting her in third grade is technically skipping, enrolling her in second grade would have been tantamount to holding her back. She is where she needs to be and is excited to be there. Because her classmates consist of third and fourth graders she’ll be able to do math with the fourth graders and other things with the third graders. It’s all going to work out beautifully!
Today Skye got to open a box in class because she was so polite (her words, not mine). It contained a watermelon which the class ate outside. Also, the cafeteria is huge and she can sit wherever she wants. The fourth graders in her class are assigned third grader “buddies”, so Skye has someone to show her around. She exclaimed, “You should see the art and music rooms! They’re amazing!”
I think her favorite part, although she won’t say, is being a third grader. She finally feels validated. She was frustrated doing long division and fraction arithmetic at home and addition, subtraction, and graphs at school.
Jenna is excited about her teacher, Mrs. O’Neill, who she met yesterday when Kirsten took her to Fairfield to show her around. She is also excited that there are twice as many boys in her class as girls. She didn’t say much when she got home today but it was obvious she likes her school and is excited to be back with kids her age.
She didn’t eat her lunch today because her sandwich was squished. The lunch lady was telling kids to eat neatly and Jenna was afraid the sandwich would make a mess. She left it alone and only drank her water. Tonight Kirsten bought her a plastic container so future sandwiches won’t be smashed.
Since the end of the last school year I quit my job and we moved to Maine. All of our time has been spent as a family on one adventure or another. So today the house was quiet. Hayley especially missed her sisters. She kept bringing her toys to wherever Kirsten was so she’d have someone to play by. Kirsten softened up on the rule about leaving toys in the bedroom when she realized Hayley was lonely and missed her sisters.