Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our Family's Back to School

Midwest Moms and family have gone back to school!

For the boys, that means new teachers, old friends, library books, uniforms, and homework.

For my daughter, it means a giant leap into a world she's only ever seen from the outside.

Diving into preschool has been a great adventure for her, and she's enjoying it so much that she complains on non-school mornings that she wants to go. Her favorite things about preschool? Friends, of course. And singing. I have heard her version of "Going on a Bear Hunt" about 734 times now. She also loves learning numbers, colors, letters and shapes. I love watching her grow in this amazing new way.

There is some breaking news, though. Now Mom may be going back to school, too.

Last year, my family had a huge decision to make about whether to keep our oldest son at his current school or to send him to a special program for children identified as 'gifted.'

We investigated the new program and asked a lot of questions. We talked to our son's teacher and the principal of his school. In the end, we made the decision that best suited the needs of our family, and my son's needs as a whole person.

We kept him in his same school, but expressed an interest in providing some supplemental programs to keep the 'gifted' part of his brain engaged and challenged. As his mother and an active volunteer at school, I offered to shoulder as much of that responsibility as I could.

So, I started investigating Odyssey of the Mind. It's a creative problem solving club for students in grades 3 through college. In it, members work on long-term challenges in which they have to create a performance, build a structure, or design a vehicle. In the spring, they bring their projects to a State competition, where they can meet students from other schools and test their creations before a panel of judges. The students also work on spontaneous problem solving, in which they are given extra points for cleverness or good humor.

It's a great program. I thought, "I'd love to have this at our school."

So, guess what? Yesterday, I presented a proposal to our elementary school staff to make it happen.

I was surprised at how nervous I was to be talking to a group of teachers like that. It was like I was automatically transported back in time to 7 years old, getting up in front of the class for my first book report ever -- nerve-wracking! That is, until my son's first grade teacher gave me an almost imperceptible nod and wink... For some reason, that shot me back into reality and I was fine. -- Thanks, Mrs. H!

At the end of my presentation, I gave the teachers a chance to play one of the spontaneous problem solving games the kids use in the program. It was good to see them having fun with the problem and each other. Maybe it made my idea seem more real. All I know was that I left the room to smiles and chatter, and it felt good.

This morning, when I dropped off my boys at school, teachers talked to me who haven't said a word to me before. That felt good, too... like making new friends. It made me feel hopeful.

So, I guess Back to School has been fun for more than just the children in our family. So far, it's been a growing experience for all of us -- even Mom.

- Midwest Mom


  1. This is an amazing story Julia, Congratulations! It sounds like the start of a very exciting school year.

    Your daughter looks *real* nervous in her first day of school photo.. just kidding of course, she looks so happy!

  2. You're such an involved and active parent. I'm sure your kids teachers love you.

    I love that pic of your little girl. She does look thrilled to be going to school.


  3. Darling photos! What an exciting opportunity you have now - good for you - and good for THEM to have you doing this!

    I missed you this summer - hope it was awesome for you. I was up at the lake, limited time on line w/laptop in the coffee shop in town but I managed. Thought of you and your kids doing all the neat stuff you do with them - brought back a lot of memories of when mine were younger.

  4. Good for you! Have fun--I bet you and your son will enjoy OM so much. What a year ahead of you all!

  5. They look happy to be back at the school :) wishing them an awesome year! You as well!


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