BB turned seven last week. 

I’ve read other moms’ accounts of how they got choked up when their kid went off to preschool or kindergarten, and understood, but only vaguely.  For me, the biggie has been BB in first grade and turning 7.  The leaps and bounds he has made this year, since the start of this school year alone, are staggering.   I’ve started writing about a half dozen sentences trying to explain it, but can’t quite put my finger on it.   Part of it is watching his own confidence bloom and grow along with his abilities.

He’s in a small mixed first-second grade class that is wonderfully loosy-goosy in format.   I am so, so happy he is still at the same school he went to kindergarten and preschool.  Based on what I hear from the parents of some of his friends who made the switch to public school this year, massive portions of their kids’ days are spent learning (and being rewarded with smiley-face coupons for success in) how to sit still in a desk all day.  I don’t think BB’s class has enough chairs for all the kids to sit in at once even if they wanted to.  They sit in circle if they all need to be listening and otherwise they are wandering the school & yard, learning about bug cycles and water cycles and any other kind of cycle you can think of or spending time working through their math workbooks, or reading a book and reporting on it. 

And he loves it.  This is his fifth year at the school and he is comfortable there in a way I never remember being comfortable at school.  More schools should be like this so every kid who would thrive in this type of environment could go (it may not be enough structure for some).   So much energy in some schools is focused on behaving (i.e., being quiet) that there is little left over for learning.*  I’m learning from BB’s class this year that a little chaos and confusion is a good thing.

 

* Part of what makes me sad is that because of all the testing they do and whatnot at many schools there is less time for exploration.  There has to be a way to both assess schools for merit, based on improvement in individual children, and permit time for exploration that is necessary to truly develop a love of learning.  With the exception of one year spent outside the U.S., I was public school all the way.  I feel a lot of guilt having BB in private school, but given his joy in learning there, how can I, with the privileges and resources I’m lucky enough to have, not seize the opportunity?

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