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Not Back-to-School Week for this Homeschooling Mom!

In honor of back-to-school, Mile High Mamas will be highlighting a few non-traditional schooling methods. We kick off our mini-series with homeschooling, tomorrow will be “unschooling” and on Thursday, JoAnn talks about charter schools.

For the past three years, the annual buy-a-thon known as Back-to-School month has been met with cheers and applause by my older kids. For them, it means that all the school kids return to class while they get back their free reign at the Zoo, Science Museum, and outdoor parks again. You see, we are homeschoolers. We grudgingly share our territory outside of school with the masses in the few months during summer but can’t wait to claim it back again in September.

It wasn’t always this way for us. My now 11-year-old daughter had Back to School from K-3rd. Not a long span in terms of a total K-12 education, but for her it was an eternity. Back to School wasn’t accompanied by the normal jitters and fears most kids get. It became an exercise in full blown anxiety. It became a tortuous descent into tears and pleadings not to make her go back to ‘that place’.

I watched her go from a vibrant, curious, busy, talkative, humorous, excitable girl during the summer into a withdrawn, quiet, bored, anxious, combative girl by the time school started. I made sure to introduce her to her new teacher well ahead of time in case it was a stranger anxiety issue. I started the “school schedule” in the morning two weeks prior in case it was a timing issue. I let her pick out all her own fun school gear in case it was an aesthetic issue. I prepared all her favorite foods for her bagged lunch in case it was a gastronomical issue.

If she was a newborn, this phenomenon would be called “Failure to Thrive,” and I was baffled, and then angry, and then sad, and then I started looking for answers…but it took me until the end of 3rd grade to find any.

School gardens’ produce increasingly ends up in school cafeterias

This year, another Colorado school district will join the growing national movement to bring fresh vegetables from school gardens  into  school cafeterias, directly onto the plates of the  students  who grew them.

Just four years ago, only a few schools in the country were doing this.  But after Denver Public Schools worked with  Slow Food Denver to create food-safety guidelines,  the garden-to-cafeteria movement  is spreading  across the country,   and the DPS food safety protocol is now a national model.  By May 2013, four states and the District of Columbia had laws to ensure that  produce from school gardens could be served in school cafeterias, according to the nonprofit ChangeLab Solutions.

“The kids are really excited about it,” said Emily O’Winter, healthy schools coordinator at Jeffco Public Schools, which tested pilot programs at four of its schools last year. “They’re so proud. At the salad bar, they look for their tomatoes from the garden.”

Experts say the trend is rooted in a convergence  of events:   the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that targeted  childhood obesity;   new USDA nutritional requirements that fruits and vegetables be served daily at school lunches; and the growth in consumer demand for foods grown locally.

At first, the idea of serving vegetables from school gardens in school cafeterias was so novel that CLICK TO KEEP READING

Where to head for outdoor movies in Colorado this summer

We Coloradans like our outdoors and we like our movies. And we love when we can combine the two pleasures.

Here are some choice places to catch movies under the open night sky this summer. A caveat: Make sure to check out the venues’ websites for what you can and can’t bring.

Film on the Rocks

This annual rite of viewing and listening pleasure launched its pairing of movies and bands in late May.

When: Mostly Tuesdays, sometimes Mondays. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Bands play at 6:50 p.m. Movies start at dusk.

Great Apps for New Year’s Resolutions

My heart is absolutely broken for the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The unspeakable horror that has taken place is something no parent ever wants to spend a second preparing for. May God be with them and give them incredible grace during this heartbreaking time.

As we look to Christmas, it’s hard to imagine preparing for the new year already. Getting a head start on those obligatory “New Year’s Resolutions” will not only help you be more prepared to actually follow through, but will make them more meaningful as you take your time setting goals you can achieve.