Ch…ch…changes

It has been a very busy time in our household since the start of the year.  We have been busily preparing for some major changes in our life, and then had to throw in a month long business trip out of the country for Matt.  All in all its made for some hectic times around here.

The first thing we had to deal with was middle school.  As I wrote a few months ago Brendan had the opportunity to tour an alternative middle school and get into a program that only they offer.  He did decide to take that route which meant a lot of paperwork for us to get him transferred to the new school and to wait and see if his in-district transfer would be approved.

While we waited to hear on that, he was busy every Saturday morning playing with an elite local orchestra.  He didn’t have to audition for it, but he did have to get a recommendation from his teacher.  Most kids I know wouldn’t willingly give up 2-4 hours of their Saturday morning for 8 weeks, but Brendan was more than happy to.  He loved sitting around with kids his age who were doing the same thing he was.  He was quite sad when it ended, but that brought along his next opportunity.

The same group that sponsored his 8 week camp were holding auditions for their upper level orchestras for the following school year.  We spoke to Brendan’s private tutor, who also happens to be a member of the same orchestra and asked if he thought Brendan was ready to audition.  He was fully on board with it and agreed to help Brendan prepare for his audition.  We had just 3 weeks to prepare (most kids have longer since the auditions fall at the same time of year every year, but since this was the first we’d heard of it three weeks was all we had).

We figured with the amount of prep time we had that this might be a long shot, but if nothing else it was a good opportunity for Brendan to go through the process and prepare himself for next year’s audition.  He was very nervous while he waited for his name to be called, but the staff at the audition site did a great job of trying to relax him.  He came out of the audition very confident that he’d just nailed it.  I’m still skeptical, but unfortunately we won’t know for sure until the end of June.

Meanwhile we’ve been busy prepping for someone else to go into a new school as well, Miss Kaylee.  Up until a couple of years ago the cutoff for a child to start school in our district was October 15, meaning Kaylee would have qualified to go to school this fall.  I thought for years that that date was quite confusing because some kids weren’t yet 5 when school started and others turned 6 just a few weeks in.  Evidently someone else was thinking along those same lines because the cutoff date got moved to July 31.

That meant that Kaylee would have to wait one additional year to start school.  It would also mean that she was one of those kids that would turn 6 just a few weeks into the school year.  Had this been my boys I totally would have waited the extra year.  While both were ready for school academically, neither were really up to snuff socially.  Brendan had his IEP team to help him with the transition, but Cameron has just had to deal and mature in his own time.

With Kaylee we were concerned about waiting another full year.  We put her into pre-school a few months after she turned 3.  She started in February, while everyone else had started the year in August.  When I met with her teacher in March I was told that Kaylee was outperforming pretty much every other kid in the class.  And this after she’d only been there for a month.  Socialization wasn’t an issue for her either.  She’d inserted herself into the class with ease and was able to get along with just about everyone in the class.

This fall we moved her up to the kindergarten prep class because it met 3 days a week instead of 2, and every day she spent at home with me she was bored out of her mind.  It was a risk because at our preschool you can only take one year of the kindergarten prep class, so if we didn’t get her into preschool she would have to move to a different center.  But it was a risk we were willing to take.  And just like last year we were told in October that despite being the youngest in the class she was outperforming her peers.  Socialization, still not a problem.

So we did our research and found that we could submit her name for early kindergarten entrance.  The process involved with doing that was by far the most complicated thing we have done with any of the kids to date.  Once we got onto the waiting list, we were mailed a packet of information.  This packet included all the legal mumbo jumbo that goes over the rules for qualifying for kindergarten, a list of things that we needed to obtain, and a two page questionnaire about why we thought our child would be a good fit in kindergarten.  After that there was a mandatory parent meeting, and if you missed the parent meeting you couldn’t test your child.  Period.

Then came the actual testing itself.  The test was $100, non-refundable.  Then Kaylee was matched up with a psychologist and tested for academic prowess, social and behavioral skills, and finally IQ.  I knew that Kaylee would have no issue with the first two, but I had no idea what her IQ was.  And the school district would only accept children whose IQ was in the 98th percentile for their age group.  In Kaylee’s case that meant no less than 130.  Knowing this we went through with the testing anyway.  Yes, we might throw away $100, but if we didn’t take the chance we’d never know if she could have done it.

At the parent meeting we were given the statistic that for every 50 kids who took this test only 1 or 2 qualified for kindergarten.  As it turns out my daughter was one of them.  This meant more registration papers needed to be filled out, doctors needed to be scheduled for a physical and full eye exam, and pre-school needed to be notified so Kaylee could be included in their little graduation ceremony.

During all this we haven’t forgotten about Cameron.  While he’s not starting a new school he is going through some changes of his own.  He joined the boy scouts at the start of the school year, and it has been a very up and down experience for him.  He always seemed to have fun when he was at the meetings, but it was such a pain in the neck to get him to go.  Our deal was that he had to stick with it through first grade, then he could decide for himself.  He was unsure what he wanted to do until the boy scouts went through their end of year banquet.  Being recognized for his achievements and getting his new rank was enough to make him want to move on to the next level.

It makes me very glad that I have always given our kids a time frame which they have to stick with something before deciding they don’t want to do it.  If I didn’t Brendan would have quit the saxophone two weeks in, and Cameron would never have realized how much fun the boy scouts could be.

Next year should be very interesting as we all adjust to our new changes, but I’m looking forward to them proudly.

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