The Things They Said – Reflections on Our First Year of School

We’re a few weeks away from wrapping up our first year of public school and you know what?  It hasn’t been that bad.

Oh, I’m definitely looking forward to a couple months of not having to get up and out the door early on my weekdays off and not having to schedule my day around school pick up, but in general, it’s been a great year.  There have been ups and downs, but (and I know a good portion of this is because of the school and district we’re in) all those things “they” warned me about that would happen with a kid in public school haven’t really happened.

“They” told me there’d be stress over getting out the door in the morning, there’d be tons of homework, there would be a loss of interest and imagination, that they would go too fast or too slow, that there would be a loss of innocence and so much more.  I was worried that within three months I’d have a mouthy little zombie on my hands, but I was wrong.  There have been ups and downs, but so much of it has been a wonderful learning experience.

He’s learning that the world doesn’t focus solely on him and his interests – that he has expectations to live up to and responsibilities.

His interests have grown through his classes introducing him to things he would never have done on his own – my child who couldn’t have cared much about art now fills up pages of drawing paper each week and can tell you (ad naseum) about the primary, secondary and tertiary colors; my child who never really cared for music now has a list of instruments he wants to learn – top of his list is the harp.

He’s had ups and downs with the kids in his class – there have been bullies and loyalty switches and strange conversations on the playground, but he is still the innocent little boy who when told that kids believe the Easter Bunny is their parents responded “Mom, I don’t think that’s true.  There’s no way their parents could fill all the Easter baskets all over the world.”  He’s the kid who’s come home confused when another child declares they’re not friends anymore, but who’s best friend is the struggling learner without a lot of friends.

He’s been both challenged and allowed to go at his own pace, thanks in no small part to a great teacher who declared at our first parent-teacher conference that “The day they make us give homework to the kindergarteners is the day I retire.  No one wants to do 30 mins of worksheets with a tired 5-year-old every night.”

He’s the kid who tells me every day after school that they had “fun, because school is fun.”

I don’t mean to offer our experience up as the norm because even within our district there are schools who do all the things I would avoid.  Rather I just offer our experience because there are still good schools out there.  There are schools that really can’t be judge on test scores and SINA designations (ours has poor of the former and is one of the later) or by the age of the building or the sleekness of the hallways (ours just got full air conditioning for the first time ever…. and I went to the same school 25 years ago).

Public school has challenged us for certain.  We’re busier, we’re more social, we fundraise and are involved.  We’ve had to become more responsible with our time and resources at home since we don’t have all day to do whatever, whenever anymore.  But it hasn’t only been my son who has been challenged and grown from it all.

That all being said, I’m looking forward to the summer and some good lazy days to do whatever, whenever.  I’m looking forward to letting him sleep until 0830 in the morning again and not having to do all my errands before 2 p.m., but it’s been so good this year and we’re already looking forward to the next.