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November School Schedule: Love/Hate

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Today is the last day of classes for the week for PPS schools, and many other area schools also have Friday and one other day off for Veteran's Day. Then, there's Thanksgiving week, which we have off entirely, but for a half-hour of parent-teacher conferences per child. Not counting Thanksgiving Day, which nearly all working parents have off, that's six days off school in one month.

I love it, in the mornings at least; I'm just not a morning person, and not having to bundle kids off to school seems like a great thing -- until it's noon and I can't organize the kids to go on whatever errands I have planned. I suspect that I get more done, writing- and housework-wise, on a typical day off school than on a regular schoolday. And my evenings are so much calmer -- no worrying that I get all the homework/paperwork/clean socks/breakfast food ready for the morning.

Lots of my friends, though, hate it -- both at-home and working parents, for different reasons. The at-home parents who crave schedules and something to keep their children engaged during the day are lost; the working parents have extra responsibilities juggling alternative care.

Which camp are you in -- the love or the hate? Ignoring politics for the moment (I know we have the shortest school year on the planet!), what would you do to make it better (if you could do anything)?

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My kids call it "no school November" and I just roll with it but honestly don't like it at all. My older child will take the opportunity to catch up with big projects in school my younger ones will start asking for playdates, etc and since I run a business from home other moms assume I'm avaliable to host every single day and so the push starts. It's a busy time of year for my work and so just bad timing.

It's hard for us because it takes Sept and Oct to get a routine going... and then we just lose it in Nov. We are not PPS and we had 4 3-day weekends in a row for in service and conferences. Then we have one week of real school before 3 days for Thansgiving. The free time was fun at first, but then it gets weird to be on/off with school and we will have to get used to a full schedule all over again... only to repeat at Christmas break time. Still don't get why school is out for conferences... can they not get subs or send in the office staff to do it (as we did for preschool conferences)? Why are inservices always set up near holidays... wouldn't it make more sense to spread things around?

As for the week before Thanksgiving off for conferences, I feel this is a great idea--especially since we all know so far in advance. Often, due to many people going out of town for Thanksgiving, that time can be a low attendance week for many schools. I think this a wonderful solution. And, yes, I am a working parent. We plan ahead for it, take some time off, and enjoy being with our kids (and sometimes their friends, too, as we all help each other out with this) on a rare weekday when they are usually in school. Our family looks forward to it--we have lots of laughs, family time, enjoy late breakfasts, start doing fun holiday projects, go for hikes, chill out together and relax.

I am in the middle, partly since I have some etxra time off this year. So will enjoy time with the kid and family. More concerned with getting out of routine re: homework, reading, school in general.

ARG! we're a 2 parent family - both working full-time, and i don't know how to do this. my heart really goes out to single parents! we pay for camps and added care - which is a strain. but it's also hard that my kids see their classmates getting a break while they're still up and scrambling at 6:45 every morning. i always thought the kid-wrangling and work schedule would be easier to coordinate as kids got bigger, but the move from pre-school (open 7a-6p every day except the big 6 holidays) to kindergarten (late starts, in-service days, a WEEK off for thanksgiving) is just crazy. i know we have much to be thankful for - 2 parents, 2 jobs, public school we like, kids that almost never get sick and require more time away from school and work etc. - but i admit that i hate november.

My daughter has always been able to roll with changes in the schedule, and when she was younger I always had day care that aligned with the school schedule--if school was out, they offered all day care for school-aged kids. It's always worked out for us.

I'm taking the next couple of days off, although highschooler is old enough to stay at home without me, and will be working on a huge biology project. I'm just trying to burn up some vacation days before I lose them at the end of the year.

I think that schools do the inservices and other days off around holidays because absenteeism is so high around holidays. A few years back PPS had school on the Monday of Thanksgiving week and attendance was very sparse.

I'm in the love camp. My boys both enjoy school, and I love the structure, but there is just something lovely about having days off. I often work weekends, so for me, it's a luxury to have the weekday free from routine. I actually feel like I get a "weekend" with this happens. And I don't mind the time off from school in general. They're still learning, even out of the classroom, and it slows things down a bit.

No school November. This is when continuing to be a homemaker really pays off. I'm home. I love the time to make complicated meals, bake cookies and help them with the inevitable English paper assigned over the breaks.

I love it. I'd also love it if they went 4 days a week and had days off here and there too. My kids really need some downtime and frankly, so do I. It is nice not to pack lunches and run out the door. We just chill and enjoy the free time.

I work part time and my husband works full time so we're usually able to make it work out. I LOVE days off with the kids. I can see how it would be a real challenge if I were working fulltime though.

I don't like it at all. As a matter of fact, I think the parent teacher conferences should be scheduled for evenings with no interuption in schooling. Teachers only work about 8.30am to 2pm every day so it wouldn't kill them to hold the conferences and planning meetings after classes.

Please don't start the teachers only work X-amount of hours a day discussion--you have no idea until you have been in the classroom/school as a teacher/assistant/staff member/school employee how hard most people at schools really work, it's not just about hours during the school day. Not trying to stir the pot, just trying to avoid any potential teacher/school bashing before it starts here.

aj, most teachers take home work, buy classroom supplies out of their own pockets and have their summers eaten up by mandatory re-cert classes or continuing education. They are generally required to support/sponsor student clubs, come to ball games, attend staff meetings and otherwise support the school in many little ways that eat up their personal time. That 8 to 2 is just the tip of the iceberg. You are really off-base with condemning teachers.

Still, I don't see why the conferences and planning activities can't take place in the afternoon. This would be much less disruptive to the studfents and their families.

I am with JoJo. My husband and I both work out of the home and November and December just stack on the logistical issues we already face with late openings and the rest. We sign my son up for camps, which he loves, but let's face it, they can get expensive even before throwing in paying for before and after care because the camps never run 8-5 or anything close. We try to patch together leave time for some of the days, but between the random school days off, summer vacation, spring break, and winter break, we are at our breaking point both of vacation time allowed by our employers and by needing to actually get some work done.

aj, because the conferences themselves require a fair amount of planning, etc---not to mention all the reasons tryon mom just listed.

The other thing---believe it or not standing in front of a group speaking and keeping them engaged for even a hour or two is seriously exhausting! I worked briefly as a tech school instructor and class lectures (I love to talk and make presentations) were FAR more tiring than my previous 50-60 hour work week desk job.

I'm pretty much in the middle---MAYBE leaning towards the like versus dislike. I now work from home, with very flexible hours and my daughter's 11 and incredibly independent/self sufficient. So I can reasonably get done whatever needs to be done (and still go out alone). Plus the no AM scramble pressure is nice.

We'll also typically do fun stuff like go out to lunch, etc during these times. BUT---she does fight me for the computer and the phone while she's home....

No conferences in the evenings! That would just require me to find and pay a babysitter, much worse. I dislike school evening events in general for that reason. It just boggles me that school would CLOSE for conferences... as if there are no subs? I sure don't remember closing as a kid and yes there were conferences.

Also wanted to chime in on the 'daycare is 7-6, but school has late openings, days off etc'... yeah, why IS that? Because no one signs up for day care who doesn't 'need' it, yet not all school parents need f/t care? Seems there should some solution that provides care duing 'normal' school hours when school is not running.

For me it isn't so much about the disruption in routine or finding care for the days off, I am concerned overall about the short school year and what that means for our children academically. I have kids in elementary and I find it sad that the schools don't challenge our children more. I can supplement at home, but I truly wish we could fund longer school days to give more time in the class room while still providing the extras.

whaaaattt??? teachers work 8-2?
WRONG.

spottie, many day care centers are not set up for handling older kids. It's not really possible for them to offer care for odd days here and there given their space and programming limitations. I have often wondered why schools don't allow private enterprise to offer before/after/days off care to folks, but I suppose that comes down to the dollars involved in opening a building when the school is closed or finding a business who would find that financially sound. I know some schools offer various programs, but it seems like there are still gaps.

momx3, I like to think my children's learning is enhanced by days off now and then. It's a different kind of learning, but important nonetheless.

I wanted to add that my belief that the kids need to be more challenged academically has nothing at all to do with the teachers. I think the teachers work very hard are are very underpaid!

Kim, that's what I mean... sending kid to day care a day here and there would be good for no him, him included as well as the care center. I meant more why doesn't the School have a system- even if it's just a PTA networking group to help find care options. Someone SHOULD start that kind of enterprise! Everyone is in the same boat always with so many days off.

I thought most PPS elementary schools HAVE contracts with various childcare provider agencies to cover vacations, late starts, AM/PM care, etc? I'm curious as to what elementary school DOESN'T have this option (it's a highly lucrative one and the contracts are fought hard for). Even if the care is off site, transportation is generally included.

Failing that, Boys and Girls Clubs are generally a cheaper option, though not always conveniently located.

who says this is the last day for pps schools? huh? my kids are in pps and this was NOT the last day....???

reggi, I should have said, 'all PPS schools on the quarter calendar.' I believe it's only Metropolitan Learning Center that doesn't follow this calendar. Thursday is a teacher's planning day, while Friday is Veteran's Day. http://www.pps.k12.or.us/calendar/index.htm

With all due respect, I am a PPS teacher. Today, I got up at 4 am to go over/practice/ learn the new 'Bridges' (math lesson) of the day. I got to work at 7 am. I photocopied articles, made literacy charts, set up 15 computers for lab time, cleaned the classroom, set up a rock display table, and prepped 32 10 cm rulers. I got new library books for the classroom library. I had a meeting with the principal, speech pathologist, and child specialist regarding a student's IEP. The kids came in at 8, I was on my feet all day, teaching 32 2nd graders. I ate lunch with them, I went to recess with them. Today was early dismissal, which means I stayed at the school until 5:50 PM. After the kids left, I met with my teaching team to implement the 2nd grade author study. I then went to the district meeting on the new math curriculum. 2 pm, please. After I get my computer/glass of wine break, I am going to re-read Katie Wood Ray's book to make my writer's conferences better, before I go to bed by 9:30. When I held my conferences a few weeks ago, they ran from 8am to 8pm, with 2 scheduled breaks. I had several families that were not able to make it during the day, so I offered night conferences. Perhaps if you spoke to the teacher/s they would accommodate you, perhaps if you allied with other families, the teacher/s would recognize the need.
As a teacher, I hate No-schoolvember., as most teachers in my building do. I feel that I just got a rhythm with the students, our routines and systems just begin to feel right, and then we are out again. Student work is just getting really involved, our studies are getting deeper. December and January feel like starting over. These short weeks/months/school years are extremely difficult.

if subs were used for conferences the school district would have to have as many subs on hand as there are teaching positions. it would be extremely expensive to pay for the sub time and the teaching time. and every time a teacher has a sub they have to put in a fair amount of time setting up/writing out plans for the sub, so the students' day is still somewhat productive and relevant.

i use a before-/after-care program for our oldest, and i pay for the package that includes care on conference and planning days. if i was a stay-at-home-mom i would love having the days w/ my child. i feel like home is the first and most important learning environment, and it's always fun when we get a chance to explore new subjects together. but if i didn't have to work, i would probably be a sahm and homeschool. i know everyone comes from different financial and comfort levels w/ all this.

i like the idea of the p.t.a and/or other community members coming together for a co-op type option. that makes a lot of sense.

I am in the "hate" camp because I am a full time working single mom, and I can't take any time off to keep my kid home. She is in the YMCA year-round program, which means she has after school care daily until 6, and she has care during vacation and in-service days. She also goes there daily during the summer. So for her, she doesn't get any special "mom time" or to bake or do fun outings, she just goes to school, and during days off, not even her own school, with different kids and inconsistent caregivers (during the regular days it's always the same caregivers). Holidays are not covered, and guess who has to work Veteran's Day, if she wants to be able to have the day after Thanksgiving off? That would be me. So I have to plan a day long play date on those days for some other poor mom to have to watch my kid and her her own for 9 hours. I just wish there was more consistency. I just don't see how these kids are getting enough school days to qualify for college! :( Oh, and my parent conference is at 6:45. These are LONG days for teachers!

I want to first say that I love our teacher and she works so very hard. You have no idea what goes into their day. I encourage you to spend some time in your child's classroom. I do for two hours every week, and I am continually amazed at the work our teacher is doing. She is lovely. She also shows up at the building at 7a, and she is always there after my kids are done playing on the playground post school...usually around 5p. I know she also does work at home to prepare for the next day. She does a million and one things each day all for the benefit of our kids. She is grossly underpaid and under appreciated.

I am in the love/hate camp. I love the break from making lunches, rushing out the door, etc. I love that my kids can sleep in, take it easy, and explore around the house, with me! But, I am a work at home mom, and when the kids are at school, I get to work. When they aren't it inevitably means I either have to do my work at night when they are in bed, or stick them in front of a movie to get a couple of hours of work time. I hate both of these choices. But, it is what it is!


Zumple, I am not in PPS... but my understanding has been that one has to be a full and regular participant in the associated child care program to take advantage of it on non-school days. If one doesn't use regular aftercare but wants inservice/holiday care only, I don't know if that can be done? If it were really that easy, then why are people always citing scrambling for care issues?

our school has a before care/ after care provider. but as spottie says above, you have to participate regularly to get a spot on non school days. and even for regular participants (we are) if you don't pay the year-round rate (full time summer care) you have to sign up for every late start and in-service day. if you sign up too late, you might not get in. like debbie points out, care on non-school days isn't necessarily at your own school even if aftercare usually is, caregivers are inconsistent, etc. we pay for the care, and i'm glad it's there, but even with an onsite provider, there is a lot of disruption and added coordination to make sure kids have somewhere to be. i expected that added burden related to summer vacation and winter holiday break, but i'm shocked by how it's a constant task and constant disruption for the kids.

Hate. The teachers talk about it as a 4-day weekend, but then some kids have to go to the Y, including mine. He asks why he has to go to the Y and some don't. I know he will ultimately have fun there today, but I sure wish there wasn't so much working mama guilt involved with days like today. Tomorrow the scramble gets worse because most employers, including mine, do not take Veteran's day.

I am sorry, I know that this is off topic but I just have to say it. Whoever you are Aj, maybe you need to go back to school and get a better education. How uninformed and small minded to say that teachers work from 8:30 to 2. I have been teaching for 12 years and I have yet to meet a teacher that works those hours. We do "hold planning meetings after school". Every day as a matter of fact. We plan for your kids with our teams. I get to my building at 6:30 and leave most days at 5 and still do work at night after my kids go to bed. Most of my colleagues do too. And one more thing AJ, if you think a human being has the stamina to stand in front of 30 something kids all day and interact with them in an engaging way AND then sit through hours of conferences, then I would bet you have no idea what it is to engage with one kid, let along 30 for a whole day.

Jojo and Trina, I feel ya sisters! It's so nice to know when you are not alone. Maybe when our kids are 12, things will change for the better! Or maybe we can all go in on the lottery together and bring about the change we want to see in the world! I hope your "long weekends" go smoothly! We are halfway there! :)

hey debby, sorry i misspelled your name earlier. you're definitely on my lottery list. :)

:)

Spottie, I guess I'm basing it on the aftercare that my daughter attended while at Atkinson, Vermont Hills. I know that for Holidays and "down" days, they simply charged a higher rate for non regular kids. You didn't have to be both before AND after care to qualify for the discount, either.

Generally, my daughter was only in after care, but every now and again we'd have to put her in early, as well. WE always advised in advance and they were fine about it. While there plenty of things I had issues with about them, I generally found them to be pretty easy to work with on scheduling.

I know the Y takes kids at least for holiday breaks, as well---because another mom would move her daughter into that. My daughter also usually did the Y for summers over Vermont Hills because she liked it better. We never lost our spot at Vermont Hills.

Because of this, I'm curious as to who the contractor is that so many parents appear to have to jump through hoops for? And yes, I did have to deal with the site not always being at her local school on "down" days---and I'm entirely bus dependent.

Oh--and yes, we did have to sign up or call them to let them know if we were using "down" days and vacation days. But since elementary school seems like a blur of endless form filling, that didn't particularly bother me.

Former co-worker was at... Bridlemile? Not positive, just know it was in SW. She could not do 'drop-in' on in-service/holidays... because she was not in the regular aftercare program.

Also about the Y.. we did Y day care as a baby. At that time and at that location, the only kids who could come there on 'school's out' days were kids in their regular afterschool, program...

So that is why I thought that was the norm. If it's otherwise for some, all that shows is that situations greatly vary from school to school.

It truly seems most moms I know are always scrambling. Those who work full-time do have coverage through their programsw, but I guess I know a lot of part-time working moms... we work during school hours only and because we are p/t, we have less leeway for disruptions to our already slim schedule. There do not feel to be as many options for those who need p/t care as for those in full programs. Though we often do things like zoo camp which are catered the other way, only until 3 or 4 pm. Those do not cover all the days off though! I'm lucky becuase my husband can usually take the days off- as vacation days. And sometimes those days are good and fun and othertimes they add quite an element of irregularity that can be too much.

It makes perfect sense that more would be charged for "drop in" days for kids who don't usually have before/after care...they have to hire extra staff to cover this. Even "regulars" usually have to pay more for extra/non-school days. We just roll with it.

So here's my December experience... we thought we had to fill week 1 of our 2.5 week break. We signed up for 3 days of camp- no one had the days 4 and 5 offered. With less than 2 weeks notice, 2 options cancelled on us for lack of enrollment. So we scrambled for other camps. Gee, one was full. Another was WAY too spendy. We found something, but it was only for four hours and those mid-day (no pre/post care options like there sometimes are). Then we found out we had to fill the second week too... again, with only partial coverage hours and not daily. Ultimately, we ended up relying out out-of-town family visitors for a few days and then took off quite a bit of time on our own, either working at home or just vacation days. All to fill a 2.5 week gap...

Our preschool used to do 'interim care' for most days of winter/spring breaks, but our elemenary school doesn't offer that- and even the preschool has cut back to just the first week. Everyone tells me that people don't sign up so less is offered... I get that it's extra costs (sometimes high costs), but what do others do... use family for 2 weeks, take 2 weeks off? I rely on the camps, and yet they are not a constant.

On top of that, the kid is off kilter from the changes to regularity. He barely got back on track after Nov and is now off again. Even something regular for breaktime would be appreciated! Still a stumper to me that I can see so much need and yet the programs can't seem to have enough others to run?

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