Let us begin with school. The school is a "neighborhood" public school, in a very nice neighborhood (some rentals in the zone, but houses for sale at $4-500,000 are the standard.) Judging by eye the student body is about 10% non-white, largely black but a few Asians (south and east); I have not seen a child I would guess is Latino. There are a lot of blondes; we're back in the land of the Germans! We're scheduled to get on the bus route on October 24 (there is no stop within 1/4 mile of our house, so they have to create a stop for us, and this takes 2 weeks), but in the meantime our routine is mr. flea drives us all to school at about 8:30; the kids play on the playground and I watch them (other kids start showing up by 8:45, the before-school program, kids off the buses, and drop-offs); and at 9:15 they line up and go into school and I walk 2.1 miles home.
In the afternoon I walk 2.1 miles back to school, pick the kids up when they are released at 3:35, and we all walk home. We haven't actually walked the whole thing yet. Day 1 we were 2/3 of the way home and our neighbors drove by and picked us up (on purpose - I had mentioned the bus assignment delay, and their 8 year old saw us from her schoolbus and begged her mother to come get us so they could play. Neighbor 8 year old and Casper have hit it off great guns - a sleepover is planned for tonight.) Yesterday it rained and mr. flea did the pickup, but he forgot and was late and was unreachable at work, so if it rains again I am calling Nice Neighbor and asking for help rather than spending an hour and a half trying not to panic about whether someone is picking up my kids. Today is cool but sunny and I am planning to break at the library.
Dillo is in K is a large mixed class (I think it's actually K and 1 together) of about 36 kids and 2 teachers, although one of the teacher is his primary. He seems to be doing fine, and the work is at his level, and to his interests (they are doing planets and the sun; we had a talk about why Pluto was no longer a planet this morning). He had an accident yesterday, but this is hardly unusual for him.
In general, Dillo has pretty much taught himself to read this past month. He sounds out words everywhere and all the time - from boxes, on signs, anything with letters. He hasn't grasped the Silent E concept yet, and in general tends to be frustrated that letters do not always make the same sounds, but once he's read a word he tends to remember it. SO completely different from Casper at this age, who got letter identification and sounds, but never had any spontaneous interest in sounding out words and in fact is still not very good at it.
Casper is in 3rd grade in a small classroom with about 20 kids and 1 teacher and a part-time student aide. She got off to a decent start socially - the teacher cleverly seating her next to an extremely social and outgoing girl - but has been overwhelmed and disorganized about work. She never brought the homework packet home, and I discovered last night that she had a spelling test today, but she had no idea on which chapter in the spelling book, and she seems to have lost the book (Danger Along the Ohio) that is serving as their reading and social studies text (it has never come home). The teacher has been responsive to email, so I hope we can get Casper sorted out soon. She is happy, in general, and they have started division (with Smarties) and she picked it right up, and I sent her in with $5 to buy a recorder for music class.
At home she had a brief phase of obsessively reading Dahl's Matilda (her proper first chapter book) but she has stalled out on p. 91 and I need to get her going again. Neighbor 8 year old takes a dance class that seems fine, so I think we will sign Casper up for that too. Next to look at are Girl Scouts (although she does not seem interested at the moment), and maybe Art club at school, and then when our finances settle out some kind of music lessons I think.
Every afternoon the 4 kids on the block play together, outside, at their house, and at ours (Neighbors have a 5 year old girl with an October birthday, so she is still in preschool; she and Dillo are not BFFs like Casper and the 8 year old, but they deal perfectly well). I was brave and spent 45 minutes with the parents over a glass of wine yesterday (and nearly burned our soup - gas stoves are enthusiastic!) so I am starting to get to know them.