Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day

I have the privelege of being a teacher. And not just ANY teacher. I am a KINDERGARTEN teacher. I kind of fell into it unexpectedly, but now I figure I've got the best job in the world. I spend my time planning play experiences for small children. They lean on my legs when they talk to me and think I smell like chocolate. I get to watch their faces as they discover colour-mixing, gravity, capacity, and best of all: READING! I get to see them form their first written words, teach them to print their names, learn to share and cooperate and solve problems. It's a joy I never take for granted.

While the rest of our students and teachers started school yesterday, I started today, with early identification interviews. This includes a tour of the classroom. Their little faces look amazed at the sinks and toilets and chairs and tables that are just their size! A sand box? INSIDE? Drums, playdough, paint, puzzles, big blocks, little clipboards, a puppet theatre? All for ME?

The interview involves hard stuff, like drawing a self-portrait, finding their name, counting as high as they can (eleventeen is a favourite number amongst the Pre-K set), and saying words for me so I can assess their speech and articulation development. We ended the interview with a prayer for their success. I sent the parents home with a sweet and heart-wrenching poem about how hard it is to drop off their child, but assuring them that I'll cherish and respect their children.

I loved meeting my new charges today! After a few more days of interviews, half the class will come at a time so that I can introduce them to school rhythms, routines, and expectations. Then they'll all come together to begin our academic year of PLAY-BASED LEARNING!

Jude will be in my class this year. Last year I was home on maternity leave so I thought I'd homeschool him (he was only 4 anyway). By late October, he and Violet were in a phase of fighting from morning till night, and I thought maybe he needed some time away! I remained neutral, as I wanted to hear his opinion on the matter. "Do you think you might like to go to school?", I asked. "YES!" was his unequivocal reply. I made the arrangements, and soon it was time to see him off.

All geared up: new (HUGE) backpack and (HUGE) lunchbag!

Eagerly awaiting the school bus...

Don't forget to look back and wave goodbye!

This was a hard decision, as most of my close friends homeschool. I'd done my research and liked what I was learning about the benefits of homeschooling. However, I was in a bit of a quandary: I work in a school as a teacher. I know all the really wonderful benefits of school, too. And I can't afford to not teach. I also admit that I'd teach even if I could afford not to...I was born to be a teacher. I love my job. And I am more patient with my kids when I'm working, because I don't take my time with them for granted. Still, it was with teary eyes and a conflicted heart that I sent my firstborn off to school.

I remembered how I felt that day, as I reassured the many weepy parents I met today...I've been there. All you really want is for your child's teacher to SEE them, to treasure their quirks and to keep their little spirits intact so that they leave your room with a smile.

Being entrusted with the spirits of other people's children is a responsibility I take very seriously. We spend a year playing, learning, growing, sharing, and praying together. I pray that this year is a wonderful one for all children out there...homeschooled, unschooled, or just schooled in the traditional-school kind of way!

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  1. Ah yes. I totally understand your heartfelt quandry. Hazel made the decision for me, as she said she wanted to go to school and meet her teacher. It is a hard thing to do....I miss her when she is away.

  2. I only hope my daughter's kindergarten teacher is as dedicated as you!


  3. What a great post-
    I agree: all anyone wants is for someone to 'see' their child and respond to them and their personality.
    I am so glad you unified all forms of schooling- I often feel that especially in the blog world systems and methods are so divided.

  4. You are a wonderful mother and teacher:)
    Lots of love to you.

  5. I thought this was a beautiful, reassuring, wonderful and respectful post. Can I come to your classroom and "pretend" I am in kindergarten? I am probably the same height as most of the kids.

  6. Jude looks *so* sweet in those First Day photos. You can see his anticipation. Lovely. I am so happy that Jude gets to have his mama as his teacher at school. How magical is that? And frankly, how magical for *all* of the kindergarteners to have YOU as their teacher!

    Happy Back-to-School...

  7. Thank you for being a teacher. Many of us know how to do but very few of us can teach it.

    I am against homeschooling for various reasons and believe that schools teach our children so much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. I hope your little guy enjoys his adventure in education.

  8. My kids have attended school and also been schooled at home. They're are amazing pros and cons to both.
    I think following your heart is always the right thing to do :)

  9. Tears dripping off my nose as I finish this post. I wish you had been my first girl's teacher. She was ready and wanted to go, only to be delivered to a teacher who frightened her with her yelling and sarcasm. I pulled her at Christmas (it was JK). Although she does so well in school now (grade 7!) she has never forgotten how terrible that first teacher was.
    Second girl had a wonderful first teacher which made all the difference.
    The children (and parents) who have you are so very blessed. I know you will see all their little spirits and be patient and loving. Lucky, lucky them!
    Please post the poem you sent home with the parents!!

  10. I think that if we each had a teacher to send our children to school to, very few of us would ever choose to homeschool :). I like that you listen to your own heart. No matter what it is: homeschooling, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, if we do not listen to ourselves and what resonates for us, then I am not sure that we are fully invested. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.


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