Monday, August 26, 2013

Don't Get Lost In The Castle #BackToSchool

404,000+ Going Back To Chicago Public Schools Today And Two Of Them Are Mine!

Happy back to school day.

Yeah, I know some of you have been back for weeks.   Some don't start till after Labor Day.   Still, for over 404,000 kids in Chicago Public Schools, today's THE day.   As of 2011/12, there were 404,151 kids in CPS, and two of them are mine.

I've got a 7th grade son heading off to a brand new school today.   He was one of only 120 lucky kids to test in to the Selective Enrollment Gifted program at Lane Tech, one of the best schools in the country.  He's a bit nervous about going from a small, public Montessori school of 420 to an enormous school of 5,000+ that spans a city block!   I'm hoping he'll settle in and warm to the idea, but for now I'm excited enough about it for both of us.   It's a tremendous opportunity and he's set for the next 6 years now.   Woo hoo!  No stressing about getting into a stellar high school.   He'll be doing freshman classes, working 2 years above grade level, with the potential to graduate with a bunch of AP class/college credits!

It's a bittersweet start, as my kids' current elementary that we adore does go through 8th, and many of the friends he's been in school with since age 4 are staying.   He would have, too, if we left it entirely up to him.   Still, once he adjusts, the Jr. High resources are SO much better that I don't have any doubt it's the right choice.   

When school ended in June, the elementary kids made care packages with silly photo booth dress-up photos and notes for all the students leaving.    Among the usual slew of "We'll miss you" notes, there were some creative stand outs.   
"Don't worry about the desks.   Just keep Juggling."

"Just think about it like it's Tepig University."  Mariza

Here are two of our favs from twin sisters who are in different classrooms and wrote the same thing unbeknownst to each other!

Twin-think?   Great minds...

Cha cha cha changes
Du-Jay will have a day of firsts today ...lockers, changing classes, daily city bus rides without the family, all new classmates (except 2 girls from elementary school who also got in), changing for gym class, metal detectors, ID lanyards, even desks! (Montessori kids work on rugs on the floor or communal tables), and more.

Some things remain the same
My daughter starts 5th grade and much remains unchanged for her.   In the Montessori model, classrooms are grouped in 3 mixed grades and kids stay with the same teacher for 3 years, so Sagezilla will be back with the same teacher/classroom this year, with a new batch of incoming 4th graders to mentor.   

This is the year that counts for Jr. High selective enrollment  though, so game on for grades & ISAT scores.   She'll face more academic challenges, but much will be familiar.   Of course we want the best education for our kids... doesn't everyone?!   But we're pretty chill about the grades and don't do private tutors, or pressure our kids to perform.   We advocate, protest & vocally support better schools system wide.   And with our kids, we just love, encourage and help where we can.

Our daughter's passion is still gymnastics.   She's on the competitive team and we just got a new bar/beam/mat for home practice off of Craigslist, to supplement the 4 days a week she has team work outs.  If anyone we know needs more outgrown toys for kids birth-9, speak up.  We've given away loads of things all along, but the attic playroom is turning into gymnastics central & tween/teen "playroom", so we're doing another BIG purge!   Anything not spoken for by friends will be donated to a local women's shelter.

Craigslist photo via the seller whose daughter is on to an obsession with hockey, which works out great for our kid, who is all about gymnastics.

Got any back to school rituals or traditions?
In the past, we've gone to Margie's Candies for ice cream to celebrate the first day of school.   My Mom used to bake us a chocolate cream pie to mark the start of every new school year when I was a child.   This is the first year I'll have kids in 2 different schools across town from each other, and one has gymnastics right on the heels of the school day ending, so our revelry will have to wait.

Here at ChiIL Mama we wish you and yours an awesome transition back to school.   Check back with us like we vote in Chi, IL... early and often for tons of fall fun in Chicago, nationwide back to school giveaways, photo & video filled features, interviews and lots of original content.

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