Monday, September 10, 2012

First day of school!
On Jack's first day of school last week I was feeling a bit nostalgic, until I got a look at the parents of the incoming kindergartners -- some were visibly terrified. And then I remembered how worried and scared I was last year as Jack started.

When I toured public schools, I had a list of non-negotiable needs, but it turns out that the school he attends has none of those features. It doesn't have a big school yard with an organic garden and chickens. No library. It's not a convenient drive. But none of that matters, because what the school does have is a fantastic staff who understand and support Jack. 

Last year we experienced the most profound changes in Jack's behavior, no doubt partially because he's older, but most of the credit has to go to his school. They teach acceptance, responsibility, social skills, kindness, and a raft of other techniques and traits that are buoying him through the lower grades. We were amazingly lucky last year to have a spectacular kindergarten teacher who is one of the kindest souls I've ever met. This year his teacher Mrs. T, is more strict, which I think is appropriate for first grade. 

Last week they started getting into a routine and focusing on rules and expected behaviors. Mrs. T set up a "token economy," where the kids get stones for making good choices and showing appropriate behaviors. For our approval-seeking little guy getting in trouble is just about the worst thing he can imagine, so he was excited and proud about the number of stones he earned each day. Representatives from all grades got together and created the school constitution, which every student signed and then was hung in the lobby. 

This week they start their academic work. It'll be interesting to see how Mrs. T deals with Jack's math talents. Last year his teacher kept him challenged with ever-increasingly tough concepts (the school uses individualized curriculum); he learned order of operations and got interested in algebra and fractions. At home we continue to emphasize problem solving and practical aspects of math such as baking, mileage, and bank interest. He is frighteningly good at wordy logic puzzles. 

Sometimes during the day while he is at school, I think of those new kindergarten parents and I send them peaceful thoughts. I have peace of mind that whatever happens at school Jack will be safe and the staff will handle any incident with grace and kindness. I wish that for every parent, everywhere.