Saturday, July 18, 2015

Continuing our re-integration into "Normal" life

Jake, engaged in his "required" summer reading while
camping with Andy.
So what happens after we buy cars, rent homes and find jobs?  Jake goes to school of course!

That was a question I got quite often..."Will you keep homeschooling Jake or will he go to school?"  While I would truly love to continue homeschooling, I think given our circumstances, it's in everyone's best interest for us to give the public school system here in Florida a shot.  That process has been a real eye-opener for me.

In talking to other cruising families that have made the transition back to land, I was under the impression that it would be a fairly easy process.  I don't know if FL is just different or what, but it has been a royal pain in our butts to get things started.

Our first step was to get Jake registered.  Sounds easy enough...fill out some forms, get some shots, well visit, etc.  (Incidentally, all those shots Jake got before we left have left him so vaccinated that 6 years later, he's still good).  There's one thing that put a kink in things.  Jake's birthday is in September.  He's that 9 year old that can either go in the fourth grade and be the oldest kid in class, or go in the fifth grade and be the youngest kid in the class.  Andy and I have spent many hours discussing this and feel that the fourth grade is where he needs to be.  He's never been in a formal school and doesn't know the ins and outs of that whole routine.  While he's ahead in many areas and would probably do well in the fifth grade, there are some key areas where I feel he would just get frustrated and needs further instruction (anyone that went to school with me will find it no surprise that writing is not my kid's favorite subject).  And while I hate to even imply that he's not been "socialized" (indeed he's one of the most social kids I know), the fact is, he has way more experience with adults than kids and I think it will take him some time to get used to the types of interactions he'll have with kids his age.

I communicate all of this to the registrar.   They didn't want to take my word for it.  They were worried he might be bored.  OK, so that' s new one...I thought sure recommending he go in the lower grade would get me out of any extensive process.  Not so....She informed me that I needed to create a "portfolio" for Jake.  She explained that I needed to provide samples of his work, a summary of his situation, details about what he knows, what he doesn't know, his learning style and numerous other items.  I stressed a bit about this, but did think it was a good idea and if they insisted on assessing him for the fifth grade, this would be a good way to do it.

Imagine my surprise when I get an email from the assistant principal asking me what day is good for Jake to come take his "tests."  Huh?  Tests?  Who said anything about tests?  It turns out they wanted to test him in reading, writing, math, science and language arts.  In one week.  Have I mentioned that Jake has NEVER sat for a standardized test before?

The next week was a huge stress fest...Long story short, after a few tests and a little boy in tears, they decided I was right and he should go into the fourth grade (For the record - Jake would want me to tell you this - he did REALLY well in reading....proud, proud mama).  I tried hard not to get Jake stressed out because of my feelings but I don't think I was very successful.  But if you get right down to it, it was a test for me...did I do him justice?  Did I do my best so that he can do his best?  Should I have been more strict?  Less "field trips,"  more "structure?"  I hate to fail on my own...but I really hate to fail my kid.  In the end, I still feel confident of our decisions and I think the result is exactly what we hoped for...it just could have been easier to get there.

I'm only sharing this to help prepare any others for the whole re-entry process...I know he's smart, I know why they wanted to test him, I get it...I just didn't think it was a good idea.

But now he's all ready to go.  We have new school clothes, lunch box, supplies, etc.  He's excited (sort of) about making new friends and learning from someone besides his dad and me.  And I'm excited for him.  I loved elementary school.  I loved riding the bus.  I loved playing with my friends.  And I loved my teachers.  I hope it's the same for him.

Here are some pics from a camping trip Andy and Jake went on recently....

We traded our crocs for alligators.

Catching tadpoles

They brought a whole cooler of these home to release in our
pond out back.  They thought we needed bullfrogs.

8 comments:

Nancy, Ethan & Zada said...

I hope you have the chance, even for a few minutes, to sit one-on-one with Jake's teacher before school starts...being able to do that, on Z's "re-entry" and "first school ever" was a good, good thing and any and all contact with the school and teachers is a good thing. I hope the school year goes well...it's a big step, but Jake is a great kid and I bet he handles it well - even if the kids won't know half (if not most) of what his life experiences are all about.... ;)

Just a Minute said...

I think you made the right decision on the 4th versus 5th grade, and glad they saw it too. Jack's b-day is Oct 5th, so he was in the same situation. Being the oldest in class is a big advantage, especially for boys. I read a study years ago showing a correlation between teenage suicides and June/July babies which the researches speculated was due to the stress of being youngest in the class and always struggling to catch up.

Click here for Seattle Fishing website said...

This is our life with and apple or berry on our hands today.

Click here for Designs by Gary Volk said...

Jake looks so bored. LOL

Deja vu said...

Just curious to know where you landed in Florida? We visit the Panhandle quite a bit and would love to meet up to talk about cruising with an only child.

The Crew of Savannah said...

Hi Deja vu. We landed in Jacksonville, for now, but are considering the panhandle in the not so far away future. send me your email address or find me on facebook (monica mckaskle) and we can try to keep in touch. We feel so far away from the cruising community right now, would love to talk to someone and pretend we're still out there!

Deja vu said...

I sent you a "Friend Request" on FB. Jason Ellis

Have you viewed petstore Puppy Sale said...

They should put a sign for all those people who are afraid of crocs like me.

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