Why We Chose Arts Over STEM for Bear

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Choosing a good elementary school is rolling the dice. You honestly just don’t know what you’re going to get. You hope to get a Lucky 7 but you might end up with snake eyes.

After some careful deliberation and going back and forth, we ended up choosing an Arts school for Bear. Our other choices were a Quaker elementary school and a STEM school.

So, you’re probably wondering why we made that choice considering that was the same school I had an issue with previously? Well, it wasn’t an easy breezy decision at all. In fact, the Arts school was actually third on the list.

We originally wanted Bear to attend the Quaker school but after going through the finances aspect of it, it was just a bit out of our reach. Affording half of the tuition wasn’t the problem, but affording the other half was going to put us in the ‘How badly do we need to eat dinner tonight?’

The STEM school was the second choice because of its California Distinguished School certification and plus, they’re all things math and science. We felt that would’ve been a great fit for Bear.

But then a funny thing happened – Bear is into all things arts – music, painting, dancing, and just a bit of acting.

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Makeshift picnic in our backyard

He loves to explore his creative side, and as a result, we love to explore it with him. We keep pictures of his artwork all over the home and we constantly do painting and creative sessions at home.

We also introduce Bear to some great music. Maks introduced Bear to Ukrainian rock music while I play a lot of old R&B such as The O’Jays, Temptations, and Four Tops at home. And of course, Bear’s namesake – Michael Jackson.

Bear constantly sings and dances at home and also at school. Even when he’s with his friends, they do dance parties. At first, I wondered if us choosing an arts school was the right fit just because it’s a public school and the class sizes are significantly bigger than what Bear is used to.

However, we think it’ll be the best fit since the school is arts-centered and that’s something Bear is rather passionate about. I think having two parents who are also creatives, brought out the creative side within Bear.

It’s still a concern about the class sizes, though.  I decided to incorporate some homeschooling lessons to ensure Bear is getting the right amount of education in addition to what he’s being taught. If you follow me on IG, I occasionally post lesson plans I do with Bear.

We learn his letters and numbers (writing), spelling his name, and I’m teaching him Spanish in addition to Ukrainian. We also do a lot of outside activities and take advantage we have a backyard to do them in.

I’m still uneasy at the thought Bear won’t get too much attention in kindergarten with a class of 25+ other students, but I can also be assured with the lessons we currently have will soothe his transition.

So, yeah, there you have it. Bear’s going to an Arts school. We’ll see if it’s a success or if we’ll be choosing another one. I have a feeling, however, it’ll be the right fit for Bear.

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Choosing a Good School is so Elementary.

The current issue that is stressing us the fuck out plaguing our family right now is where to send Bear to elementary school. We’re not talking for a year. We’re talking something he’ll like for five years or more.

While we were assigned to a school, it’s not one that we want to send Bear to. The Great Schools rating is lower than hell, and some online reviews of said school have mentioned  bullying isn’t curbed. Not to mention, we don’t really want to send our child to a school that is predominantly any race for the fear of he would be bullied.

We lucked out with his preschool and how diverse it is. Bear has a Muslim best friend and a Latino one. He’s very friendly with children of other races and he’s not the only biracial child at the school. He has friends who have gay parents, parents of all socio-economic classes, and it was all love between us. I loved that school because everyone was celebrated and I hope our next child will be able to attend it.

Elementary school, however, is a different ball game.

We live in Pasadena, but we’re well within L.A. County. We also have the option of school choice, meaning we can send Bear to any school of our liking as long as we apply within the deadline, which is coming up very soon.

Once we decided we weren’t going to send Bear to the clusterfuck of not a great school near us, now it became a question of exactly where to send him. LA Unified is currently under strike and that is weighed heavily on our minds. Do we want to risk sending Bear to school when it was better off we homeschool him if there’s a strike?

Now, we do incorporate lessons at home. We’re subscribed to ABCmouse.com, and that has been a huge help. Maks is teaching Bear Ukrainian and I’m helping Bear with some Spanish lessons and perfecting his English.

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Our home Spanish lesson plan.

We also do activities and Bear is learning how to write his name. The goal is for him to fully write his first and last name and do a little bit of math before he starts kindergarten in August.

We’re stuck between choosing an excellent public school that’s a few miles away, a private Quaker school that’s nearby, or charter/magnet school that’s also a bit of a distance.

The pressure is on this time because whatever school we choose, we want Bear there for the whole duration of said school, be it K-5 or K-8. These are friendships he will have forever. We also want him to have a quality education and not some teacher who will spend just a few seconds with Bear before they have to move onto the next student.

Decisions, decisions.

Honestly, we’ve been looking at elementary schools since Bear was born, LOL, but our recent move last year did put us into a tailspin. We already decided on one school, only for us to possibly for him not to attend it (it was close to us then but it’s a distance from us now).

I am confident we’ll choose a great school for Bear and that he’ll thrive in it. I think worrying is the worst part.

For the parents, what advice can you give us?

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Fun with Flags

On the days Bear is not in school, we do a lot of lesson plans. Okay, who am I B.S.ing? I try to sit him down long enough for a couple of minutes while I attempt to do lesson plans with him. There, that’s more accurate.

Recently, Bear was given an educational gift by the author of Hello Aaaron! Where Are You? Nellie Emrani. It’s actually a pretty cool book that illustrates some countries and the moments those countries are known for:

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And she even autographed it for him!

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So let’s take a look inside:

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Pretty cool, huh?

Now mind you, this obviously doesn’t have every country represented but quite a few. It’s still a fun starting geography book for everyone. I highly recommend it!

To purchase, click here.