Today was the first day of our new afterschool solution, and all indications are that it went well. Yippee!
After Mae was suspended from her school’s after care program for two days in December for fighting in two separate incidents on consecutive days (although Mae insists that one incident involved poking a classmate, not punching as the teacher claimed), it became even more clear that she needs a more structured setting. We searched for alternative after care programs over the winter break, and found a neighborhood program that seemed awesome — small groups, dedicated homework time, close adult supervision, and access to a master teacher with a background in behavior modification. We visited, and Hubby and I liked it. Mae liked it too and wanted to start right away. Alas, her school is too far off the program’s bus pick-up route. I began searching for another transportation service.
Within a day or two of posting a flyer on the school’s community bulletin board seeking a person or service to provide transportation to the neighborhood program, I was approached by the school’s office manager, Mrs. J. She informed me that she runs an after care program from her home. When she finishes work at 3:15 pm, she takes her son and two other children to her home. She was looking to expand. The kids have 20 minutes of free time, then a snack, homework time, and more free time. She takes them to the park when weather permits and to the library every other week. Bingo! Mrs. J knows Mae well (not least because of the many visits Mae has had to the office since she began school there at age 3), and Mae has a good rapport with her. Mae also knows and likes the other children, although they are in different grades (kindergarten through 5th) — one of the many benefits of a small private school. When I told her about the planned change, I was afraid that she would worry about missing her regular group of friends (even though she doesn’t always treat them as well as she should, she really does love her friends). To the contrary — she was excited.
When Hubby picked Mae up today, he said she was happy, and Mrs. J reported that she did very well. Her homework was complete (and initialed by Mrs. J to show that she had checked it). Having homework completed before she comes through the door allows Mae to have more play time at home, which is really, really important to her. One of her biggest gripes about our evening routine (homework, dinner, play, bath, bed) is that she doesn’t get enough play time, and that has led to many, many a meltdown at bath time. Tonight was calm and peaceful (well, as much as possible for life with a 6 and 3-year-old).
Our hope is that this arrangement with Mrs. J will work out for the long-term. I believe this type of setting is a much better fit for Mae, and that it will give us more and better quality family time in the evenings.
(P.S. I submitted the application for Mae to be tested for the county’s talented and gifted (TAG) program — thanks to her awesome teacher for taking time out of her report card prep day to complete one of the forms on the same day she received it, which happened to be the application deadline. If Mae tests successfully and gets into a TAG school, I’ll have to think long and hard about leaving her current school. Sigh.)