Friday, August 16, 2013

Back to School, Rural Style

 We start school early, in mid-August. Desert Boy wanted it to start even earlier, as he really missed his friends. So when we went to back-to-school night, he could barely contain his enthusiasm. He picked out his desk, got his school supplies, and played on the playground. The parents learned about the daily schedule and dress policy. Then we went home and made sure Desert Boy was in bed by 8.

 The next morning, Desert Boy was up at 5:30, wondering why he had to wait so long to go to school and start his first day as a first grader. Good thing his dad was up that early!

Living in such a rural area, we don't have to choose between private and public, charter and magnet, one-language or bilingual schools. We have an old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse system. Grades kindergarten through second grade are taught in one town by a teacher and a teacher's aide. Grades 3-6 are in a different town in another one-room school (actually it has two classrooms and a library/computer room, but the main subjects are taught in one classroom and the other one is used as the music room/science room/cafeteria). Grades 7-12 go to a third town where several teachers teach in their specialties and the other subjects are taught via TV/Internet connections. We have a bus system that takes the kids where they need to go.

Class size is small. Last year's graduating class was about five. That's quite large. We don't have any kindergarteners this year. The first grade class has six students. The second grade class has three students, so my son is in a classroom with nine students total. The combined grades in the classrooms seems to work, mainly because we have very talented teachers. The older students help the younger students, and the younger ones see what the older ones are doing and want to do it too. (This especially applied to Desert Boy with math last year, he wanted the harder math sheets. Talk about getting his mom to smile!) Most students go on to college.

We've already told our kids that they are going to college. One morning Desert Girl surprised me by saying, "I can't wait to go to college, it's going to be so fun!" Way to go, pre-schooler, you keep thinking that way!

 Back to the first day of first grade. Desert Boy was ready to be the star of my camera. I love this photo!

 We went over to the bus stop for more photos.

 And a little comparing of who had grown more over the summer!

 But the camera got old, and the kids got tired of the photo shoot. They wanted to get to school!

 Soon it was time for the bus, and eager kids remembered the rules and stayed put until the bus doors opened and then marched in a nice line onto the bus. Good job! Desert Boy lost his backpack over the summer, so he's using a temporary one in a nice bright color that hopefully he won't lose. He has homework four days a week, so he has to learn to bring it home, do it, and take it back.

My husband wasn't such a good student, he wanted to stay out under the desert sun and go running around, so we're thrilled Desert Boy is liking school so much. We're trying to encourage him and also give him good food to fuel his body and mind. My goal this school year is to send as little processed food as possible, especially after learning how artificial food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity and how the American diet includes several times the amount of sugar we need.

Here was our day 2 lunch: left-over whole wheat spaghetti with sauce (Desert Boy picked out the zucchini from the sauce the night before, but he doesn't even know it's whole wheat spaghetti), a whole-wheat banana-chocolate chip muffin (yes, a couple ingredients in the muffin aren't the healthiest, but hopefully the banana helps balance those out!), baby carrots (he still calls long ones adult carrots), and strawberries. Yum.
Maybe part of going back to school fun are the lunches. Oh, who am I kidding? His favorite part of the day is recess!

What's your favorite back-to-school memory?

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