Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

First day of school

It was Edyn’s first day of preschool at our parish school. She took such care in picking out her clothes – khaki capris, a light blue t-shirt with an appliquéd butterfly, and a butterfly pony-tail holder (butterflies to match her “new” butterfly shoes that light up when she walks).

Edyn has the same teacher Zooey had when the preschool program was launched three years ago – a grandmotherly type who thinks reading is the best thing in the world. After getting out at noon, Edyn reported that she already had some new friends and got a stamp on her hand for being good.

I did mist up a little as I dropped her off, but only because she seemed so grown up the way she introduced herself to other little girls and shared a puzzle with one of them. This is Edyn, who used to be so shy!

Oh, and word to any other parent who hasn’t yet taken their child to the first day of school: please do NOT allow yourself to cry in front of your child if you intend on him/her staying without you and having a good day. One dad, all six-foot-something of him sobbed and it’s just no wonder that his daughter clung to mama’s shirt and then after they left, ran out in the hall to find them. She was really trying to be brave, but if Daddy was so frightened, there must be something wrong with leaving her there!

Like I said, I felt overcome with emotion, too, but I made it outside before tears rolled down my cheeks. And yeah, I circled back to peek in the window and make sure Edyn was doing okay. (She was.) But at least I didn’t terrify her.

Zooey headed into second grade with his jaw set and his spine straight. He admitted to being a little nervous a few days ago, but I reminded him that he didn’t have to know everything they covered in second grade on the first day. The teacher and I and his dad all expect him to not know that stuff – that’s why we are sending him to school.

We’d popped in to meet the teacher and survey the room yesterday, so he was pretty confident. The teacher remembered Zooey from last year as “the one who likes to read.” She asked if he’d done much over the summer and I nodded. “Summer reading program at the library, a library book club with his dad on Monday nights, and he’s on the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia series and just finished the first Harry Potter.”

I’m not bragging. I’m very proud of what a reader Zooey is, but it’s not bragging because the teacher needs to know his reading level.

She did look a bit amazed. “I’m going to have to find a way to challenge him.”

Knowing Zooey’s love for reading is deep, I shook my head. “The real challenge is getting him to put the books down and learn other subjects,” I said. “He’s been known to sneak peeks at books in his desk.”

That wasn’t an issue in first grade. The teacher predominantly focused on teaching kids to read, and since Zooey was already reading when the year started, she gave him permission to read more advanced books on his own while she was instructing the other kids. But I knew it would be an issue for this teacher. She’s got a reputation for accomplishing a lot with the second graders. Not only do they do all the academics required by state mandate, they usually exceed them. Plus they have a lot of religion on top of the academics, because they make their first Penance and first Communion in the spring.

And you know what? As hard as she pushes the kids, they adore her. She’s the teacher that the kids hug goodbye before Christmas break because they're going to miss her. I think it’s a fabulous sign when the kids, the parents and the faculty all hold a teacher in high esteem. I’m so glad that Zooey has her this year…and I hope that she’ll stick with our school for my girls.

All in all, I think we’re going to have a great school year.

Oh, and just a quick note on home schooling: I’m a big fan of home schooling and I enthusiastically applaud the families who take on this vocation. For my husband and I as still-recent converts to Catholicism, we felt it was important to put our kids in our excellent parish school to help us train them up in the faith. This school is a leader in academic scores throughout the city, too, so we believe our children are getting the very best education there. If our circumstances were different, we’d likely choose to home school. So please don’t be miffed with me that I’m not educating my kids at home.

--Sparki

1 Comments:

  • Someone would be "miffed" at you? No doubt there are people who have opinions about everything, but someone who would be "miffed" at a blogger over how she schools her kids probably has her own troubles!

    Funny, although I am very much a homeschooling hopeful, after reading the part about the father crying what I thought was that we'd better make sure no perceived negativity about "school" gets passed on to "BB," especially since we can't be sure he'll never need to go there. There are good Catholic schools here, so it wouldn't require circumstances as dire as considering public school would for us. Even if we're reluctant about it, if it's acceptable for us to put him in a school it's not going to help him to know how reluctant Mommy and Daddy are and how they wish they could be homeschooling! And of course we don't want him to have warped ideas about other kids' lives who do go to school or say anything that would insult them or their families. Even if it were an out-of-context thing, not "school-bashing," I think he might pick up on any strong trend of criticism in parental chatter in front of him. Mostly I just tell him some kids go out of the house to school, some kids have school at home, and he's probably going to have school at home.

    I am big on homeschooling but in addition to circumstances in which it's not possible to do it or do it well, there seems to be too much Catholic tradition of entrusting the education of minors to qualified others to form a legitimate opinion that All Children Should Be Homeschooled If Humanly Possible, Period, The End, No Matter What Schools Are Available. I also want to consider the educational methods that helped produce some of our great Catholic thinkers before deciding that some way currently favored by homeschoolers is the best -- so while we may be applying them with our own children, we will probably be looking at methods used by non-parent teachers or tutors of the past.

    By Anonymous amelia, at 12:03 PM  

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