Thursday, March 24, 2011

The big kindergarten explanation post

I have gotten a ton of questions about kindergarten so I thought I would write up some explanations of some decisions and logistics. If you're not interested in reading about our decision to separate them or year-round kindergarten, skip this post! If you have more questions, post them in the comments and I'll answer.

Separating the boys

In our ideal situation, we would have separated the boys when they were 3. They are not dependent on one another, but we do feel that them being together prevents them from developing particular skills on their own.

To prepare for this, we picked a day care that had multiple rooms for every age. Unfortunately by the time our boys got to the 3s and 4s rooms, the rooms had different curriculums. We (and the director) did not feel it was fair to give one kid a more advanced curriculum since they are twins so we kept them together. Rather than move them to a new day care to be separated, we decided to keep them at a place we know they are loved and delay the separation until kindergarten.

We talk ALL THE TIME about the upcoming separation, strongly emphasizing the positives. We believe it will be great for Nate and Alex to be apart for many reasons. Our strongest reason is that we think it will be good for other people to stop thinking of them as "Nate and Alex." We also think it will help stop people from comparing them directly so much. And it will be good to have different sets of homework. Right now, them having the same homework is difficult to manage because they overhear each other and end up chatting with each other about it.

Even though we talk about the positives, we also listen to the boys' worries and concerns. We are preparing for a transition period. By the time they leave their school, they will have been there for 59 months of the 62 they've been alive! It will be a HUGE change just to go to a new school and then to also be separated will add even more change. Even though they'll be apart at school, they will still ride the school bus together, see each other at recess, see each other in the cafeteria, and be together the 16 hours they're not in school

Overall, when Jon and I talk about our "jobs" as parents, we think of our role as helping our children grow into independent, self-sufficient people. To us, separating them is part of the job, and it seems most logical to do it when they go to kindergarten and everyone is starting fresh and making new friends.

Year-round school

Wake County has multiple choices for public school options. We have traditional calendar schools (off in summers), magnet schools, and year-round calendar schools. When we bought our new house, we narrowed our search down to specific schools in Cary. Our new neighborhood school is a year-round calendar school.

Some parents may not like this, but as a family with two working parents, we are thrilled with the idea of a year-round schedule. The boys will go to school for 9 weeks then have 3-4 weeks off for four quarters. It is much easier for us to get a week of vacation four times a year instead of trying to take extended time off in the summer.

In the year-round calendar, there are four different schedules. They are staggered so there are only 3 tracks in session at a time. The idea is that you can fit more students into a school by utilizing the school 12 months of the year instead of 9.

We got notice this week that we got our preferred track, Track 1. The boys will be "tracked out" (on vacation) for the months of March, June, September, and December every year. We already have a beach vacation planned for their first track out in September, a great way to celebrate their entry into kindergarten!

While we will take some time off at each track, they will go to day camps the rest of the time. Since our county has many year-round schools, there are a lot of options for camps for tracked-out kids.

Was this helpful? And do you have other questions?


Goddess in Progress said...

I am fascinated by the year-round school idea. I don't know of any districts in MA who do it. They are so married to February and April vacations around here... But if we had it, I would strongly consider it. I think it's good from an educational point of view, and I like those staggered blocks of vacation.

And I couldn't agree with you more about the separation piece. Obviously, since I put my kids in separate preschool classrooms. But I really do think that even the best teachers can't help but see twins as a unit when they're in the same classroom, and can't help but compare them to one another. Separate classes have been great for us so far, and I have no doubt Alex and Nate will flourish and will get over the initial adjustment period just fine.


Anonymous said...

Haha, I first read "tracked out" as cracked out. Time for more coffee. Thanks for your detailed explanation!! I am also in MA and can't imagine year round school, but I can see it working in parts of the country where central air is the norm!

JenFen said...

I think I would like year round school if I was on a track like you got. I wouldn't really want the kids on track if they had to go in December because I can't imagine what it would be like to only have a a couple days off around Christmas. Can you say hectic?

Growing up, most of the time the twins I knew were in whatever classes they were assigned that year. Some years they were in the same class and some years they were not. Will you be keeping them separated every year regardless?

All this talk about kindergarten. When did our May babies get some old?

Cynthia said...

Well, you know I agree 100% about separation! We prepared for a big period of transition when A&B entered their own rooms this past September and...nothing. They love it. They especially love riding home together on the bus which is adorable.
As for year-round school, if we had the option, I would be all over it. I'm really jealous that you have that option!

LauraC said...

Jenn, Everyone gets a week at the fourth of July and two weeks at Christmas in addition to their track outs.

Stacey said...

Your post was fantastic! My twins are starting school this fall as well. This year round school seems fantastic. We are working parents at our house so the boys are in daycare. This would be great and would be much easier for us as a family to get time off. Unfortunately that is not an option in our area. I think we have decided to put them in the same classrooom. Our idea behind it was we could do homework as a group, but your argument about them working together is valid and something for us to keep in mind. We are putting the boys into a biligual school so they are going to be learning both french and english at the same time so I thought it would be too hard for us to keep track of the two language curriculums and then two separate curriculums???

Lee Anne said...

I am so on board with your thinking! We separated the boys at age 3 (LONG story and they even go to separate schools) and I really think it is the best thing we ever did. We are 6 months behind you age-wise, which means a year behind you school wise. It will be interesting to me when mine go to school because they will be going to the same school for a change but still in separate classes. I am excited for you guys and know it will end up being a wonderful experience for them both. Hardly anyone realizes we have twins until they ask how old they are now. It's pretty funny to me. It's been cool to see their interests change and grow since they are not together all the time.

Starr said...

Hi. My name is Starr. I would like to say that you have two very beautiful boys. And I pray that God blesses your family with an life full of endless joy and health.

I am a photographer and photo-editor in the making and your amazing photography of Nate and Alex is what drew me to this blog and I fell in love with the boys in no time. You inspire me and I would like to know if I could use a picture of Nate and Alex and mess around and add Justin Bieber in there (since you mention they like him) as a surprise gift for them. Their smiling faces have brightened some of my worst days in my major depression. Please follow me and let me know what you think? Thank you so much.

Jennifer said...

I love the idea of year round school. It is much easier as a teacher....when kids are off for three months straight they lose so much and we end up spending a huge amount of time relearning! I really can not believe we are talking about our boys starting kindergarten though!!!

Joanna said...

When I first learned about year round school, I hated the idea. You can't get rid of summer! But the more time I've had to think about it, the more I like it. Now, I just wish it was an option around here.

As for separating the boys, I think it's going to be great for them and really help them develop into the individuals that they are. They each have such distinct interests and strengths that I think this is going to work wonderfully. You know, after the initial adjustment.

Mommy, Esq. said...

I wish we had year-round school in MA.

Amy L said...

The year-round school option sounds great to me. Even though we still have a couple of years before C starts school, I'm already thinking about how it is going to be hard to lose the flexibility of when we take vacations. I'll be interested to see how it goes!

Ginger said...

Wow! I really like your year-round option. I wish we had that option where we live. With the boys' challenges I think it would be so much easier for them to have short periods off rather than one long period over the summer. We will probably separate our boys at some point too. And most likely that will be kindergarten or first grade. We are about to start preschool two days a week for the first time and I am not willing to separate them yet. One stress at a time for transition reasons. Anyway, I really wish we had that option around here...maybe the private schools here have the option because we are also thinking public school won't be the way to go with our boys....anyway...thanks for the post! So interesting!

Fawnsy said...

You know whats best for your boys and it sounds fab! I to like the idea of all year round school!

erinlaughs said...

I think I could separate my girls when they move up to the next room. I don't think I will, but the thought has crossed my mind.

I'm anxious to see how the kindergarten separation goes. My thought has always been to separate in first grade, to give them each other in kindergarten when it's really that big leap. But, your logic has pros as well.

Being able to take vacations during off times and not being held to spring break is fabulous! Especially if you have good day camp options for the other weeks they're off.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

This is what I love about blogging - being exposed to different ways of doing things.

Here in South Africa, we start school in January every year (it differs per province - here where we are in Jhb 2nd week, in the Cape where I'm from, 3rd week). We have two weeks holiday after the 1st 10 weeks, then three weeks in June/ July, another week in Sept and about 5 weeks in Dec/ Jan.

Private schools work slightly different but the amount of holiday is the same.

Nicola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky @ Our Sweet Peas said...

So awesome that you have so many options. Small private school=few options. The boys will be in the same class but we will try and make the best of it. It would be nice for them to be seen as individuals. Even their Sunday school teachers ask if they have the same personality. UGH. I think it will just mean we will have to work harder to show them they are different and that is a GOOD thing.

Stacey said...

You've really made me think here. My grade-level team collaborates on most everything, but once in a while I send home a different homework assignment than my teammates. I always feel bad about this thinking it makes things so confusing for the twin families. I never thought it might be considered a good thing!

I'm still confused about your schedule a bit. Does that mean that some classes rotate classrooms?

I'm sure your boys will do extremely well!

Writerswife said...

I love this statement, 'we think of our role as helping our children grow into independent, self-sufficient people." It is very much how I view our role as parents.

Best of luck with all the changes.

Anandi said...

Wow, I would also pick year-round school in a heartbeat - it just makes so much sense.

Did I understand correctly that this is public school?

Pam said...

Year round schools sound like a working parents dream. Unfortunately, our school district doesn't have it.

The separation idea is one that is on my mind now because my 3 year old boy/girl twins will be starting in a new Montessori program this fall and we need to decide if we want them together or apart. I'm torn at this age. I know that it would be great for them but they would be apart for 9+ hours since lunches, recesses, etc. are all different in the new school. Probably good for them but harder for me as its nice to think that they are watching out for one another (when in actuality they are likely not!). Anyway, your post is good food for thought.

Karen said...

You make year round school sound appealing. And it definitely makes it easier for working parents.

I think next year is going to be an adjustment for our May babies as they head off to school for the first time. It makes perfect sense to me for you to separate the boys for kindergarten.

Stacey said...

What are you going to do for child care during the breaks? A dual income family wants to know! Charlotte doesn't offer year round school so we'll have to supplement with after school care and camps in the summer.

Jill said...

As always, you've given me lots to think about and consider.
We've never had the option to separate at preschool. The more I think about it and watch them change and interact, the more I'm inclined to separate for kinder.
And year round school? Your track schedule looks sweet. I've started wondering what in the world we'll do during summer vacations.

Sandra said...

Hi Laura!
Good for you for your thinking and planning going into this decision and doing what's best for your boys/family.
Mostly I'm just stopping in to say HI!