Saturday, September 08, 2007

In other news ...

I won! I am one of Scrapbook Warehouses Queen of the Crops! I was the winner of the contest for the Newport store and will soon go pick up my prize package of $300 worth of scrapbook products. Thank you to all that voted for me! I truly appreciate the support.

The other pressing subject is one that has me constantly worried. It's school. We have fairly good schools here in Scappoose. Sure, the class sizes are slightly large but the schools still have some extra programs and are fairly well supported. They work for most families, but I'm not sure they're working for ours. See, our kids are special. Really. I'm not just saying that. Tristan and Carissa are well ahead of most of their classmates. Chase in particular is a very, very bright child.

I remember our first school experience with Chase. He was days shy of turning 3 and we decided to send him to 3 year old preschool. We walked into the classroom that first day and he asked where the puzzles were. The teacher pointed out the puzzles to him and he just looked at her and said "no, where are the real puzzles?". She had pointed out the board puzzles with 6 or 7 large pieces fit together to make the picture. He wanted what he was used to doing at home, 100 piece puzzles. And I remember the summer between kindergarten and first grade. He read the entire Harry Potter book that summer all on his own ... at age 6! Right now he is reading the entire encyclopedia from A to Z. These things made me realized how smart he was and how hard finding good education was going to be.

This has been an ongoing issue. Each year I have to argue and cajole the teacher into more difficult work for him. Sometimes they will do it, sometimes they won't. Some years he learns quite a bit. Other years are a total wash for him.

Fast foward to today. He's in 5th grade. His spelling words this week include "worse", "skirt", "accident", "hospital" and "remedy". The challenge words include "emergency" and "universe". These words are nothing for Chase. He got them all right the first time I asked him to recite them orally. There is no challenge here. There is no difficulty factor. There is no trying for him. And with 30 kids in her class this teacher doesn't have a lot of time to put together extra lists for him. Sure, she'll do it once I pressure her time and again to do so. But that solves just one one subject of the many he has. School is WAYYYY too easy. He doesn't know how to work hard. He doesn't know what it means to have to study. He doesn't know what it is like to sometimes fail at something. School is no challenge for him. When I'm working in his class I can see his boredom. I can see him fidgeting and standing up and reading when he's bored. I can see how, in coming years, he could totally lose interest in education because of his boredom.

I see how Carissa and Tristan are following in many of Chase's footsteps. I can see how many times they aren't challenged. How they just skate by without trying. How they take for granted how easy things are for them.

We just plain can't afford private school. No question about it, it's just not in the cards for us. But here we do have one more option. That is to send them to a little school on Sauvie Island, about 20 minutes from Scappoose. This school currently has 77 kids total in grades K-6. The kids are in mix classrooms, meaning that the 1st & 2nd graders share a classroom, the 3rd & 4th graders share, the 5th and 6th graders share. Sauvie is used to catering to kids with different ability levels. They offer the opportunity for kids to test out of the "average" level classwork and instead work a grade ahead. They have teachers who take 1 on 1 time with the kids and who have aids in their classrooms to help out. They have extra teachers for subjects like art. They are even considering adding on a Spanish teacher!

There are so many positives to having the kids move to that school. But there are negatives too. The social issue is the biggest thing for me. Chase would have to leave his group of friends that he's made at Peterson. He'd go to a school where there are 10-12 kids in his grade. He would have a much more limited choice of friends and those friends he did make there would probably live near the school, which is fairly far away from us. That's the other issue. The drive. It's 20 minutes. Yes, there is a bus. It picks up the same time as the bus they currently take, but instead of having 3o minutes down time at their school they would be on the bus most of that time. They would get home an hour later than they currently get home. They'd barely be home in time for Tristan to get to Tae Kwon Do.

So I don't know what to do. I'm wracking my brain here considering all the positives and negatives. Considering whether 2 years at Sauvie will make a huge difference for Chase (the other kids would have longer, but Sauvie kids head to Scappoose once they reach mid school). Would I lose my right to have my kids go to Grant Watts again if we decide Sauvie isn't right for us? (We're currently grandfathered in, but if we move them will they let us move back? Or will we have to go to the other school the rest of the neighborhood kids go to? *shudder*) Is it the right decision for them socially? Or should I worry only about their academics?

I'm really trying to make this decision soon, as I don't want the kids getting too invested where they are if they are just going to change schools. *sigh* So much to think about. I just really don't know what to do ...


Catherine said...

We have had a similar problem with some of our kids....there was plenty of "dumbing down" for kids who were remedial, but no challenges for gifted kids.
On the other hand, Bryce has struggled with math since day one...mostly because of problems related to his prematurity, so I have the unique opportunity to view it from both ends. I don't really have any answers, but understand the real dilemma.

Anita said...

What a tough decision! I sure hope you can sort it out and find the right answer for your family. Big hugs.

JulieP said...

Harry Potter at age six? Really? Wow!!!! You truly did need to do something for him and your other children. I see from a later post that you did move them. I think that was the right decision. They definitely need to be challenged.