How to spend a free first period (El Cerrito HS freshman)

My ECHS 9th grader doesn't have a first period (they call them blocks there) so his first class doesn't start till 9:45.

He gets on campus by 8 because he rides with another family. I don't want him at home because I'm positive he'd spend the time watching YouTube. So I'm told he can hang out in the library or the cafeteria.

If you have or had a kid in the same situation how did you handle it? He doesn't have an English class this semester so if he's going to read I'm the one who has to supervise. Did you assign your kid reading or other work? Any advice is welcome. I want him to establish good habits at this early stage.

Some additional info to consider: I'm working from home for the next couple of months while I undergo cancer treatment. I really do not need a teenager underfoot at the moment.

Thank you!

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 Have him add a class to first block. Assuming he has the full academic complement of of classes (including a world language, which ECHS, being ECHS was not able to provide to all freshman this year, a very bad sign), find something non-academic. Which art, phys ed, music, drama, other electives are available that period? Yearbook? The Radio Station class?  Fill out the change form ASAP. And have him start going to the class now, even though its the administration that has to make the enrollment official. 

There is no reason a child cannot take 4 blocks each semester. ECHS parents to do it *all the time*. It is a matter of "better to beg forgiveness later than permission".  Do not plead or request to add a class. Put in the change form and state which class he is adding that block. Have him make contact with the teacher of the class and get that teacher on your kid's side. If the administration gives you guff, stand your ground. Do not be afraid or ashamed to invoke your health issue as needs must.

Over the years I have started going to every "coffee with the principal" and PSTA and like organization meeting, and talking to every fellow ECHS parent I can to get the real scoop on how things work and how to get what I need for my child.  I have lost count of the number of parents who have told me that their kid takes 8 blocks a year. I didn't know about this my child's first year, and the second year they had their first AP classes so they appreciated having blocks 2-4 second semester. This year my child's first block is a class that runs all year, so there's no room to add an eighth block, and with 3 AP classes plus some honors courses they wouldn't want to add another class even if they could.

I'm assuming this is your first experience with ECHS. It will be a bumpy ride. The Administration (with the exception of some off the office staff) is incompetent and defensive. The current principal has a "vision" and our kids aren't in it. You and your child will have to advocate for everything, including a bathroom to use. Yes, they lock *all* the bathrooms, except the ones in A building around lunchtime. Kids sometimes have to leave this "closed campus" to find a place to pee. 

In spite of all this, there are ways to make the block system work for your family.

Good luck, and I send you good energy that your health improves.

A fellow ECHS parent.

I would send teen off to school, suggest he use the time to do homework, then let him manage it! 

So sorry about your cancer treatment, I understand how that adds an extra level to your concerns about your son. My daughter is a recent ECHS graduate and says that if too much TV is his only problem, then he will be fine. He will eventually get a lot of homework and won't have time for youtube, so that morning time should start to get more productive. Also, not having English is fine, please don't give him extra work; all classes, even PE, have writing assignments. In the 9th grade, my daughter gained better reading comprehension and writing skills from History than from English. High school gets really demanding, if he can take it easy a little in the 9th grade, that is a good thing.

I would like to comment on the advice of "fellow ECHS parent." Please don't let his/her comments scare you off of ECHS, although I do understand that things started off a little unusually this year regarding scheduling. My daughter had a wonderful 4 years there, and is now prepared for and is having a wonderful time in her second year of college. ECHS was not a "bumpy ride" for us. I went to exactly zero coffee with the principal and zero PTSA or any other type of meeting; this was by design, I had trust and confidence in my student that she could handle her needs herself at school. I was available to back her up if needed, but truly that never happened.

There is no reason a FRESHMAN should have three blocks.  That's crazy.  I know you have cancer, and I'm terribly sorry about that.  You might need to step in and help him get that.  Get to his assistant principal or counselor. 

From the website: Main Telephone: 510- 231-1437

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL & COUNSELOR CASELOADS

ECHS ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS

STUDENT CASELOAD

Ms. Charlotte Betson

Last Name: A-F

Mr. Jay Eirvin

Last Name: G-O

Mr. Eric Mapes

Last Name: P-Z

ECHS COUNSELORS

STUDENT CASELOAD

Ms. Monica Ng

Last Name: A - E

Mrs. Yecenia Campos

Last Name: F - J

Mr. Yen Kong Moua

Last Name: K - Q

Ms. Christina Rios

Last Name: R - Z