Local attractions

by Denver Dad

Do you take advantage of the travel/tourist places and activities in your area? I recently took the kids on a mini road trip (DW stayed home) to Gunnison and it occurred to me that I’ve lived here almost 20 years and there are still so many places around Colorado that I’ve never been to. This was my first time in Gunnison, and we saw Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which I never even heard of until we got down there. We also stopped in Crested Butte, which I had also never been to.

Jealous of other kids?

by Denver Dad

Do you ever get jealous of other kids? I’ve mentioned quite a few times that DD plays softball and I’m one of the coaches. She loves playing, but she is just not an athlete. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few girls who came in with little or no experience and pick it up so quickly. I can’t help feeling a bit jealous when I see them in comparison to DD.

School trips

by Denver Dad

The last few years, my kids have gone on several school trips out of state and overseas. DS went to Boston two years ago, they both went to D.C. last year, and DD went to Costa Rica this year. One of DS’ teachers is planning a trip for next year to France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany that we will probably let him go on. Our feeling is that these trips are great opportunities for the kids, and we can afford them, so we want to take advantage of them. Realistically, we’re never going to get to all of these places as a family.

I also think a big part of the trips is the kids getting to be on their own (with other kids and some chaperones, of course, but not their parents) and establish some independence. I tell them flat out that I don’t want to hear from them while they are gone. On the Costa Rica trip, the teacher sent photos and updates several times a day, and while it was nice to see what they were doing, but I would have preferred to have had no contact until the end. I definitely seem to be in the minority on this, most of the parents were very concerned about the international calling/texting and wifi access so they could have daily contact with their kids.

What trips have your kids taking and/or are planning on going? Have there been any that they didn’t enjoy, or you felt weren’t worth the money? And how much do you try to stay in touch with the kids while they are gone?

Teaching your kids to drive

by Denver Dad

My son just turned 15, which means he is going to get his learner’s permit. I’m hoping DW and I can be patient driving instructors for him. When my brother and I were learning to drive, my mom would always jam her foot on the imaginary break and turn the imaginary wheel and yell “Watch! Watch!” when she’d see a car coming on a side street a half-mile down the road.

What were everyone’s experiences like teaching their kids to drive? How well did you handle it? And for those whose kids aren’t old enough, what do you think you’ll be like as a driving instructor?

Vacation splurges

by Denver Dad

We are going to Iceland next month and we booked a tour for an obscene cost. It’s a helicopter ride to the Thrihnukagigur volcano and then you take an open elevator down to the volcano floor. It’s the only place on earth where you can go into the magma chamber. We went back and forth on it, and finally decided it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we figured if we’re going to do it, we might as well go all in and do the helicopter ride instead of hiking up.

What are the biggest splurges you’ve made on vacation? What was worth it and what wasn’t?

How do our young teens spend their summers?

by Denver Dad

In a recent thread, I talked about our issues finding a suitable “camp” or
other activity for the summer for 14-year-old DD. Some people commented
that they don’t understand why a teenager needs to go to camp.

So I’ll ask the question: what are your young teenagers doing for the
summer, or if you have older kids, what did they do when they were in the
13 to 15 range? I’m particularly interested in replies from families
where both parents work outside the home so the kids can’t get to/from
activities that are less than a full day.

Back to school night

by Denver Dad

What do people thing about back to school night? We’ve usually found it to be pretty informative and worthwhile, but our school changed it around this year and it was pretty much a complete waste of time.

They used to do it the standard way where you started in your kid;s homeroom and then went to their classes where the teacher provided the syllabus and discussed the specific class. You got to meet all of their teachers and find out what would be covered in each class, what they were expecting from the kids, etc. It worked very well.

We have a principal who is starting her second year and she decided to change it up this year to try to fix what she thought the flaws were, which were time spent moving between classes, and juggling classes for multiple kids. So the new format was to have a room for each grade (there are only 2 classes per grade so space wasn’t an issue) and have the teachers come to the room. Then they had a second session, where they would repeat the presentations so you could go to one grade and then to another if you needed to.

However, in our opinion it failed miserably. First, they do performance grouping, and there was only one math and one language arts teacher in each room. I went to 8th grade and DS’ math teacher wasn’t there, and DW went to 7th grade and DD’s math teacher wasn’t there. And they just talked in generalities – all I found out from DS’ LA teacher is that they will read 7-10 books and have to do a 10 page research paper. No specifics as to what books or anything else. The math teacher said they are using a new curriculum this year, but didn’t give any info as to what will be covered at each level. DW said the math teacher in her room went over what they are covering in 7th grade math, but DD is in 8th grade math so that didn’t help.

Then the science and social studies teachers stayed in one room. So all we found out about 8th grade science is they are doing chemistry and physics, there was nobody to answer questions or provide more information. DW said all they heard about social studies was what they read on the PowerPoint slide because nobody in the 7th grade room knew anything about it. And because they were doing two sessions, it was too short. Time ran out before the SS teacher could start his talk in the 8th grade room, so he had to whip through it in about 60 seconds. The Spanish teacher did go to both rooms, but because of the time crunch, she only talked for about 2 minutes and couldn’t get into nearly as much detail as she has in previous years.

How do they do BTS night at your schools? Do you find it worthwhile?