Monday, September 8, 2014

And We're Off! Nia's in Pre-K 4 and My Thoughts on Diversity in School

Happy Monday! Today starts Nia's first full week of Pre-K 4 (last week she only went two days). It's amazing to see how tall far she's come:

She definitely misses her little buddies from Pre-K 3 but has one friend from last year whose classroom adjoins hers which has been comforting. The Pre-K students have class in trailers, a controversial topic that came up last year when her school was possibly converting to trailers, and you know what? It's just fine. It's more about the actual teacher and learning experience than what it's housed in, as long as it's safe, which it is. The room is set up neatly and efficiently which is key!

Here are a few pics I took from her first day (all poses were her idea O_o):

I've also had a few thoughts about diversity running through my head while observing the demographics at Nia's school. Preschool is subsidized where we live, regardless of income, and while most parents vie for a coveted Pre-K 3 spot which grandfathers you in to Pre-K 4 there's a definite "white flight" of sorts that happens between the two years. This is mostly due to the low performing schools in our city overall that the Pre-K 4 programs are housed in. Nia's school last year, and classroom specifically, was a wonderful array of ethnicities. This year it is too but interestingly, I see not one white face. I've written before about the topic, but I would never want to live or raise my children around people who only look like them and as we prepare to move to New Hampshire this is something that I'm thinking about especially as my children's identity develops. I've already started an action plan to make sure my kids will be around other families of color, but I do know the reality that my kids will probably be the only brown faces in their New Hampshire classrooms. There were a few years of my schooling that I went through the same thing, and it was very isolating, but I came out the other side OK. 

Besides diversity of race the socioeconomic diversity is an issue too. Nia's school is mostly low-income families and this definitely plays out in it being a low-performing school. When we signed up we knew we wouldn't have her enrolled for her entire elementary experience but received counsel from a local educator who runs her own school here and had surveyed the area schools. She told us with confidence that the Pre-K program at our local school was sound, hence we were confident in Nia attending. Part of me is thankful that we're escaping our local school system before having to enter the world of private school which seems to be the norm of our socioeconomic peers although we will have her attend private Pre-K 4 for one year since there isn't universal Pre-K in New Hampshire. While the public schools in New Hampshire are excellent, Mr. Lovebird and I will always take the home education of our children very seriously. It starts with us!

How was your kid's back to school transition been? What is diversity like in your school system?