Sunday, August 23, 2009

First Day of School

As difficult as it is to believe, Anna had her 1st day of Kindergarten and Aiden started 2nd grade. The summer just flew by and so has the last 7 years. Anna has been waiting to go the kindergarten since Aiden started school, so it was very exciting that it was finally time. That first morning they woke up at 5:30am got dressed, brushed their teeth, made their beds and came downstairs ready to go! I woke up to Aiden saying "what time do we leave for school". He was a little disappointed when I told him, not for 3 hours! With that much time we were able to have a great breakfast, watch a show and make sure they looked their very best. I took them in to school so I could get lots of pictures and make sure that Anna was going to be okay. When I took her to her classroom she found her desk, sat down and said "bye, mom". I was shocked! I expected a completely different scene which included me having to pull each of her arms off from around my leg and convincing her I would be back before she knew it. But instead she barely even acknowledged me as I tried to pull myself away from her! I waited at the door for a few minutes just to confirm that she was really okay and that she didn't change her mind that she still needed me but she was completely fine. I walked Aiden over to his room and his class was all lined up. In front of the line were 3 boys who reminded me a lot of Aiden. They had plenty of energy and were goofing around with each other as they waited for the teacher. Aiden saw them, walked to the back of the line and looking at the ground whispered to himself "stay away from them, stay away from them"! He knows the expectations at his new school are high and he has been preparing himself for a great year! He has even memorized the first few classroom rules; including following directions the FIRST time given, keeping hands and feet to himself, staying in his seat and only speaking when called on (all areas he struggles with :) So I thought it was remarkable that he decided first thing that he should avoid all temptation to goof around!

It was a long and difficult decision to choose where they were going to school. I wanted them to go to their home school, Entz, so they could go to school with kids in the neighborhood, but I also loved the idea of having them at Highland Park in Gilbert where I work. At the same time I had heard amazing things about Challenger Basic School, a charter school in Gilbert. The advantage for taking them to Challenger was their cutoff for entering kindergarten was the end of September where the other districts was September 1st. So with Anna's birthday being September 26th it would be easier getting her into Challenger. Or so I thought. When I contacted Challenger I found out they had a very long waiting list. Since we didn't expect them to get in there we decided to do early testing for Anna so she could go to Entz. While we were waiting to hear back from Mesa, we got a call that Anna had been drawn in the lottery for admittance to Challenger (later I found out there were over a hundred names on that list). They still didn't have a spot for Aiden, but I went ahead and signed Anna up. Aiden was going to have an incredible teacher at Highland Park, a young, new, male teacher that everyone wanted so I was okay with having him go with me. But just a week before school started Challenger called and a spot had opened up for Aiden. We left the decision up to Aiden and he wanted to go to school with Anna so we enrolled him at Challenger as well.

Even though it has only been a couple of weeks, I know that everything happens for a reason. Challenger is an amazing school and we are very fortunate that Aiden and Anna are able to go there. Anna has learned so much already and she has made lots of new friends. She loves her teacher and art class! The first few days I picked her up she was beyond exhausted. It is a very long day and with everything they do she is drained when she comes home. But after a quick snack she is ready to do her homework and always finds the energy to play with her friends. I have been concerned that she will have some difficulty because she is only 4 but her teacher emailed me after the first week and said she is doing great! Aiden is also doing amazing and is absolutely thriving in school. The very structured enviornment and back to basics academic approach is a great fit for him. He told me on day 4, "I love my new school, I never want to leave. I love the math, writing and reading!" But even with all that love he was still struggling with following the class rules. Unfortunately for Aiden he was given my gift of gab and he has a difficult time sitting still and not talking to everyone around him. In his class when you break a rule you have to turn your card. So for one offense you turn it to yellow, for a second red, etc. He was able to get a green card the first day (I found out later that it was probably because the teacher didn't turn any students card the first day :) but then every day after he came home with a yellow or red card. I knew he was doing his very best but a lot of it is just his genetic makeup. So on day 6 I took him into my bedroom before school and had him kneel down with me and we said a prayer that he would be able to do well, stay still and focused and be able to control his need to talk. When I picked him up that day he was beside himself. He ran over to me and shouted "I got a green card"! On the way home we talked about what he did differently and he said "I prayed". He truly had a testimony of the power of prayer. He knew he was successful because he asked for Heavenly Fathers help. In that moment I was just as grateful for Aiden's abundant faith as I was for his green card. Everyday since he has reminded me that we need to have our morning prayer together. One morning we were in the car on the way to school when he remembered. I told him to go ahead and say his prayer while I was driving and he thought that was just great. Last week he got 4 out of 5 green cards! That's better than most of last year :) Each and everyday I asked him why he was able to do so well and he answered the same, "because I prayed".

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