Tag Archives: Elementary School

Evacuation Training: A Look Into American School Evacuation Plans (or lack thereof)

“Even with all of the school shootings reported, there are still so many left unreported. So many names that we’ll probably never know, so many people we’ll never get a chance to meet, so many lives cut short, so many destinies that will never be fulfilled and so many stories with chapters left unwritten.”

  • Anonymous

On Friday, October 9, 2015, I had the opportunity to attend a training for our school district’s Evacuation Plan and Procedures. It was very eye-opening and very sad, if I can be honest with you. Eye-opening because until that day I had not really thought much about this type of thing. I guess you could say that I, like many others, have been quite immune to living in a “safe” town, where not much really happens. So, when the thought of school shootings was presented to me, it definitely opened my eyes, and mind, to what “could be” someday. No one and no school is immune to a tragedy like a school shooting. A bullet has no name on it, as they say. And still I wonder how many people truly think about this when they send their children off to school (or anywhere for that matter).

Some of the most well-known school shootings, we’ve all heard of, began this revolution of evacuation planning in our nation’s schools however, up until recently many of our school administrators, etc. have not truly done their research to ensure that our children remained safe while in their “care”. I learned that majority of our schools, in America, have this “sitting duck” mentality and approach to school evacuations. In my district however, they are changing protocol and educating the teachers, staff, students and families that if God forbid a school shooting were to occur in our district, that there needs to be multiple options for escaping with our lives. Now, instead of being sitting ducks and hiding under tables or whatnot, our children and educators are being given the choice to run with their students or have the students escape if it is safe, they are implementing an announcement protocol and have even gone so far as to implement rally points and ways that students & teachers, who cannot escape, can still possibly survive this type of tragedy.

Even with all of the planning, it is still up to us, as parents and adults, to ensure that we educate ourselves and our children on the awful and scary things of this world. We trust educators enough to send our children to school to be taught by them and “watched” by them while we work or go to school or whatever, but we need to understand that they are flawed human beings, just like we are, and they don’t have all the answers and can and will make mistakes also, even when we need them to not make those mistakes. I think it’s time for us to take a stand and reach out to our Superintendents and Politicians and join PTAs and do whatever else we must do in order to ensure that ALL of our school districts are preparing for the day that we hope – and pray – never becomes a reality.

I urge you to think about this, to speak with your families – especially your children- about this, and to truly equip yourselves with your own district’s protocol and plans for this particular thing. You may find that everything is A-okay or you may find that things need to be reevaluated and new procedures need to be put in place. Visit your local school, Regional Office of Education or contact your Representatives and let’s start a movement to make our schools safer and our educators and students better prepared for the “what if’s” of this day and age.

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Homeschooling: My Thoughts

Why this topic, you ask? Let me give you a little history and maybe then you’ll understand why this topic is now coming up.

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I was almost always a straight ‘A’ student throughout my elementary school years. Every club and every sports opportunity that was presented, I took advantage of it. There is nothing that I hated about school but there are things that I disliked (and that I still dislike) about the public school system. I don’t have any personal experience with being homeschooled as a child. I am a product of the public school system and proud of it. So, you may ask what gave me the desire to do something so outrageous as homeschooling my own children?

Ever since my children were little I’ve known that I wanted to homeschool them. I even went as far as homeschooling my older girls who are now ages 11 and 9 years old and heading to 6th and 4th grades this school year. The only reason I stopped homeschooling was because of going through my divorce and having to work more often, which left me with very little time and energy to even think about continuing to homeschool. On top of that, I couldn’t see how anyone, including me, could realistically homeschool their children while also being the sole provider.

Martin-Luther-King1However, the desire to homeschool never went away. In fact, it has only gotten stronger over the years. Although the thought of working from home “full-time” takes me completely out of my comfort zone, I truly believe that God is giving me the grace to be able to homeschool my children again, and for good this time. I am still struggling with whether or not to continue to send my older girls to school, since they have been doing well in that environment, but we’ll see.

My 9-year old has struggled to stay afloat in the public school environment since she is more of a kinesthetic learner and needs to touch things and move around often in order to truly learn a particular subject and they just don’t allow for that in most schools. Also, she has already experienced her fair share of being bullied so that is another reason for my concern with sending her back to school this year. However, instead of making my children’s decisions for them, I usually talk to them (especially the older ones) and I let them have a voice in how we proceed in most, if not all, situations. This will be no different. If they stay in school it will be because they are prepared to stay and because we feel it is the better choice for them at this time.

Homeschooling, to me, is more than just being able to teach my children of our Christian values. It is being able to have my Children-Quotes-461children learn in ways that really allow them to master a subject and not merely just memorize the correct answers for a test. I don’t care what anyone says, many of us adults can barely remember algebra or even what an adjective is. And when our 3rd graders bring home their homework and expect us to help them with it, we sometimes have to Google what ‘this is’ and what ‘that is’. That’s ludicrous in my opinion! It also shows that we learned things merely to pass various tests and never really mastered MOST of the subjects “taught” to us.

I am by no means saying that there aren’t great teachers in the public school system, because I believe my children and I have been blessed HowToThink_notWhatToThinkto have some of the best teachers this world has to offer. I am just saying that public school does not work for everyone. Likewise, homeschooling is not something that will work for every child or family. I do think we must weigh the pro’s and con’s of these major decisions and truly understand how each could affect our children’s and our family’s lives.

Either way it goes I am prepared to step into the role of a single, homeschooling parent. Although I rarely see or hear about single parents taking on this role, I believe that when God calls us to do something He also equips us with the tools we need to do it, period. With His grace and leading I know that everything will work out fine.

Lessons Learned (on a drive home)

I was recently in the car, driving home from work, when I decided to turn on the radio. As I sat at a red light, flipping from station to station, I overheard a conversation that piqued my interest. A man began to speak and posed this question, “How can parents continue to engage their middle school child?” I ended up listening to this entire segment – it was one of those conversations that I just didn’t want to miss and one of those times when I didn’t want to get out of the car for fear of missing out on an answer that could very well “change my life”.
For those of you that happen to be new to ReNewed Chick, and don’t know much about me, let me give you a little background before I continue. I am a 29-year old mother of 5. Yes, 5, f-i-v-e. You may have already read this somewhere else – or heard it through the grapevine – at any rate, it’s the truth.
I work full-time outside of my home, serve in the community (and teach my children to do the same), blog, recently continued working on my first book and am now looking into starting an e-magazine…all while working on my second degree. My children range in age from 5-months to 10-years old and there is a set of multiples, twins to be exact, in-between. I am divorced (yep, you got it…I’m a single mom), as if that wasn’t enough, right? Tell me about it!

Continue reading Lessons Learned (on a drive home)

Your vs. You’re

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Okay, maybe it’s just me but does anyone else get frustrated and automatically want to correct someone else’s writing when they use the word “your” although you know that it clearly should be the word “you’re”? I mean, seriously, I feel like a fifth grade teacher grading a bad english paper when I read through some of the things that come up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I know some people just do it because of the convenience (and to save space, especially on Twitter) but I am convinced that some people are just stupid and don’t know the difference between the two. Maybe that’s a little harsh… (no hate mail please!)

If you’re one of those people that use bad grammar yourself, from time to time, but absolutely HATE when you see other people use it, you’re probably a bit of a control freak…kinda like I am. Join the club! 🙂 We have a problem too but we will not talk about that right now, lol. For all of you that don’t really know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, I will tell you so just keep reading.

The definition for the word “your” is: belonging to or associated with any person in general. It is a possessive pronoun meaning that it shows ownership. The word “you’re” means: you are. It is a contraction. A contraction – no, not those labor contractions that all of us who are mothers dread thinking about since we really don’t want to go down that road again, but the grammar lesson contraction that we learned about in elementary school – combines two words and is kind of like the abbreviated version of those words.

A wise woman once told me, “Once you know, you can NEVER go back to not knowing” (so don’t you even try!) For all of my grammar control freaks out there, let’s try to lighten up and put that red pen back in your purse…right now! And for my bad grammar users, let’s try to start posting things that make sense, at least every once in a while, so that everyone doesn’t wonder how in the world we made it out of the third grade!

As always, please feel free to like, share and comment. Remember, sharing is caring 🙂

School Days: Helping My Kids Adjust

On August 23rd, my daughters and I went school shopping. When we returned home from our shopping trip I noticed that I had a missed call from their school. I learned that the school had finally sent me the email that my girls and I had been waiting for…the email that would tell us who their teachers would be this school year. When I read it, I knew that at least one of my daughters would be disappointed since they had already expressed to me which teacher they each were hoping to have.

So, after I read it, I called my girls downstairs, from their rooms, to tell them the good (and not so good) news. Once I told them which teacher they each had gotten, it was time to deal with the “aftermath” – which surprisingly was not that bad. Both of my daughters took the news very well however, their next question was if their bff’s would be in class with them this year. Each of my girls have a bff, already, and they do almost everything with these little girls so this question was already, pretty much, expected.

Later that evening, as I was typing a text to the mother of my 8-year olds’ bff, I noticed that she had beat me to the punch and texted me asking which teacher my daughter had gotten for third grade. (I ended up finding out that her daughter had asked her the same question that mine had asked me.) When I responded back I told her that our daughters are both obviously very anxious to be together for another school year and I informed her of the teacher that my daughter had been placed with for the 2014/15 school year. She texted me back and said “Darn it! I can’t believe they didn’t put our kids together this year.” At first I thought she was kidding around but when I texted back she informed me that she was not and that her daughter did indeed have the other third grade teacher. During our text convo, we promised that we would make sure to arrange play dates and sleepovers and other things for the girls to be able to still see each other. I guess it was our way of helping to nurture a friendship that we both felt was mutually beneficial for our girls.

Now, it was on to daughter number 2. She actually asked me if she could call and speak to her bff so I let her use the phone to call her. When she got off of the phone she had the biggest smile on her face so I knew the news she had received was good. I asked anyway, just to let her tell me and have her moment of excitement. Isn’t it always worth it…to see our children happy about something? 🙂 My daughter exclaimed, “Mom! Mom! My bff and I are in the same class again this year! I cannot wait to start school now! I hope we get to sit next to each other!!!”

It’s so crazy to me because, on the one hand, I was so happy for my 10-year old daughter but, on the other hand, my heart kinda broke a bit as I listened to her because I knew what I had to tell my 8-year old and I knew that she would probably be very hurt after seeing how excited her sister was and she would not get a chance to feel that excitement this time. So, I decided to wait but that decision was quickly thwarted when my 8-year old came up to me and asked if I had heard back from her bff’s mom. I couldn’t lie to her and I couldn’t postpone telling her, as much as I wanted to.

The conversation went something like this:

Me– “Yes, honey, she actually texted me before I got a chance to text her.”

8 year old- “And???” *her eyes bright and full of childlike excitement*

Me- “Well, her mother said that she got the other teacher this year.”

8 year old- “Oh.” *silence*

Me- *walking over to hold my precious girl* “You know, sweetheart…this does not mean that you two can’t be friends and her mother and I are both going to make sure that you both get together as often as possible so that your friendship can continue.”

10 yr old- “Well, the 3rd graders all go to recess together so they will still be able to see each other at school too.”

Me- “Is that true?”

8 year old- “Yeah.”

Me- “Awesome! So see there, you all will still be able to play together on the playground and spend some time together during the school day.”

8 year old- “Yes, actually, we will. I didn’t think about that.”

*…we hug each other tightly and I try to take it all in because I know this is a moment that I will not forever but also one that I will never forget.*

10 year old- “And both of the 3rd grade classrooms are right next door to each other and I think they might even go on field trips together too!”

8 year old- “I didn’t think about that either. Thanks! I needed that, sis.”

*…the girls smile and hug each other too.*

I’m aware that it will not work out this way for everyone and that there will be other situations in the lives of our children that will be a lot harder/tougher to handle – and will require a deeper/different answer/response – but I would bet that all children just want someone who will listen and care about the things that they care about.

Now, I said ALL of that to say this… So many times we, as parents, put off and devalue the things in our children’s lives; that we feel is not that big of a deal and that they should just “get over”. Many times, it may be, the things that hurt or concern them seems trivial to us but if we put ourselves in their shoes – or simply think about the things that probably mattered to us when we were their ages – then it is pretty easy to respond in a loving and caring way to their worries. Sometimes, all our kids want is to know that we care about what they care about.

While we may sometimes have to “fake it”, isn’t it better in the end to have a happy child, that wants you in their life because they know they can talk to you and you will listen, than to have an unhappy child, that wants nothing to do with you or your advice about their situations?

I know that it’s definitely not always going to be this simple (or this easy) to speak into the girls lives, in this way, or to help them to resolve problems that they may encounter in their lives but I want to have happy, well-adjusted children who will be ready for the world and who will include me in their lives, always.

I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my mother so my mission has been to change that with my own children, especially with my daughters. I highly value the mother/daughter relationship (and just the relationship between a mother and her children period, whether they are male or female) and believe that it is one of the most important relationships to nurture in this world. When we get old and gray, it is not going to matter what career we had, how many degrees we earned or even how much money we made – all that will matter will be whose lives we touched and who touched our lives – and my children’s lives are some of the lives that I have a hand in helping to mold and am able to touch everyday. How I raise them will determine who they will become and how they will treat others. So, in essence, you and I are going to touch hundreds, thousands, even millions of people through the lives of our children and grandchildren. Something to think about, right?

I know that some people feel like you cannot be your child’s parent and their friend – that you HAVE to choose one or the other – but I tend to believe differently. I want to be their friend and be able to laugh and joke around with them but I also know that I am their parent and I must set the rules for them to follow. I know that I am capable of drawing the line when I have to, so I am not too worried about the naysayers.

We all have to do the things that will work for us because no family (or situation) is exactly the same. Sometimes that means making the hard decisions while other times it’s as simple as a hug or being a listening ear. In the end, and in all things, I just want to ensure that my children know that they can come to me for anything and that I will always love them, no matter what!

Until next time…stay blessed!