Friday, September 03, 2010

Back To School

I have to say that this upcoming school year has not been without trepidation.  I don't know why but I felt like this was a defining year for my kids and their education.  When we were in California and decided to pull G from public school to place him in a private Christian school I felt like I was making a big statement about how he was going to be educated going forward.
Our move to Virginia, before we were able to place him in said private school, gave us two options. Send G to the local public school (which was raved about by friends and strangers alike) or send him to a private Christian school which would cost $10,000 more than what we would have been spending in California. I hate to say it but the bank account won hands down.
There were things I loved about G's new school and things that made me cringe. I loved that they pushed the kids academically and physically. Who knew first graders would have to run a mile-yes that's one full mile- multiple times a week or that they would have to create their own country with a capital, means of leadership (king or president) and country motto. Hey, for first grade I thought it was pretty great!
I cringed at the way the lunch room ladies were nasty to the children they so obviously labeled as "troublemakers" and still think that it's disgraceful that there is a naughty table for kids who are not following the rules-and it seems like these rules include talking above a whisper.  To place kids at a table that is more like being on exhibit skates a fine line between breaking a child's spirit and discipline.  I will NEVER forget the day that we brought cupcakes to the lunch room for G's birthday and one of the little boys who always seemed to be at the naughty table started to cry because he thought he was going to be excluded. My heart broke when I saw a grown woman lash out at him and tell him to knock it off.  Was this where I wanted my child?
My other concern was that after a while I didn't feel like his classroom was a good fit for him and that is when I began to worry about the upcoming second grade year.
This school year Gabe tested into a gifted and talented cluster class. After watching my best friend struggle with her son and his gifted class-or lack thereof-I worried about my G's upcoming experience.  Would he be challenged and encouraged to be his best without expecting perfection?  Would he have a teacher that can look past flaws in handwriting, attention to detail and silly mistakes and see the brilliant and compassionate little boy who can light up a room just by walking through the door?
At this point you may be laughing at me and my expectations for my children. I know that there is never a perfect teacher or perfect school. I'm not a perfect mother so I get it. But my son is going to spend-as he has in the past two years-seven hours a day with a person that is not me! And that's ok in theory but really-I struggle with that.
So back to the trepidation. I started to wonder if this year would be the one that pushed me to home school. To keep the kids at home where I know them inside and out, where I could ultimately look at myself as a mother and say I did the best in every circumstance including their education. My best friend was now doing it and would be completely supportive and after our first grade year considering home school versus private school we had been at this place before.  What was best?
Back to school night was last night and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw.  Even after hearing positive feedback regarding his new teacher I was still hesitant.  I can honestly say that today I am excited for the start of school on Tuesday. I saw a woman that was both nurturing and resourceful, experienced and mature in her teaching style and I like that.
I think the first day of school is going to be difficult for me. Not only because I am watching this little boy whom I used to carry in my arms as a baby walk away towards a new adventure, but because H will not be here to experience it with us. It's just one more memory that we will have without him, one more step towards the future that will include him waving goodbye to the yellow school bus.
I hope that as families, both mom and dad, walk their children to school on their first day that they remember all of the kids who will be without a parent because of their service to our country.  If you have a child in your son or daughter's class who has a parent deployed overseas, consider doing something special for them or their family. You won't believe what a difference you'll make.


Mireille said...

These are the hard days when you have to go through these special days without H being around, but even I don't have a militairy husband I still need to do many of these days alone as well. Because D travels so much for his job.... But.. I have sent H a belated Bday card :-) So I hope he will receive it, since mail from SA is not that reliable.

April said...

Mireille that is so sweet to send Hung a card!! Thank you friend!

Brazenlilly said...

We are on the cusp of decisions just like yours about schooling! Still praying about that. Thanks for this honest post and you feel a peace about this school year. You've encouraged me to keep an eye open for locals who might have a parent in active duty for the military.

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