Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Day of School

I didn't really intend to take a break from blogging ... and suddenly it's the first day of school!
So apparently I took a break.
How was your summer? (That's what you ask on the first day back to school, right?)

It's funny going through the first day of kindergarten ... when you unschool
Yesterday was an orientation for Child F and the principal asked the crowd of parents: "Just by show of hands, how many of you are doing this for the first time, sending your oldest off to school?"
Wait. Can you ask those questions again, more slowly? I think those were two different questions and I have two different answers.
I just kept my hand down.
I asked the nutrition specialist, in charge of the cafeteria, pointed questions about their food system. Not because the answers mattered (although I was curious), but because I wanted to raise awareness and point out that these were issues to be concerned about (where is the food being made? is it made from scratch? where is the food being sourced?).

Child F.'s mom came for orientation. We've had more reasons to be together lately (Child D. had dental surgery recently, for example) and it's nice to co-parent in real-time instead of catching each other for minutes before and after weekly visits.

Child F. is really excited ... and pretty nervous. I woke her up before her sisters, and she was still asleep in my arms as I quietly carried her downstairs. She sleepily got dressed, but was ready for breakfast. I packed a snack (panicking a little - what do I send for a snack!?) of yogurt and homemade strawberry syrup/jam and some homemade granola. Might this child live with hippies?

I found myself feeling all adrenaline-y when we were waiting for the bus. I'm excited for Child F. - she's ready. And the last few weeks have been challenging. I attribute this to the fact that we are very close to the anniversary of her removal and the weather took a sharp turn for cold at the end of August. The last few days have been better, but I'm assuming the break where Child F. is at school and away from us will be a good thing (but only half believe).

Child F. was mostly worried about the cat being in the road.

I'm nervous about her academic skills ... we haven't done anything over the summer ... on purpose ... that is purposefully academic. She was in headstart with special ed services and as we unschool, I'm a firm believer in "kids will learn what they need to know when they need to know it". For Child F. that was: how to heat food in the microwave, how to go to the bathroom, how to stay out of harms way, how to fill a bottle with milk when the baby was crying ... not: how to count, what sounds some letters make, or how to organize by shape. So I asked her to count last night. It was on a survey thing the teacher sent home. And she counted to 11 - without missing one number! This is huge! I've been told over and over that kindergarten teachers have a wide range of student ability that enter their classroom on their first day - and this girl isn't going to be the one needing the most academic forward movement. I took some deep breaths ... and then the child counted to 11. So cool. I'm really proud of all the gains she's made.

Here's the thing: she's going to be fine. Better than fine. She's going to excel. I know it. But it's hard (and I've only known this kid a year - imagine if I'd been with her day in and day out for the last 5.5 years!) to let her go do this by herself. She was nervous about where she was supposed to go when the bus dropped her off (there will be all kinds of adults there to help her on her way as she walks to the very end of a long hallway to her classroom). But she's got this. And you know how I know? Even if she would love to have a familiar hand to hold as she steps into the next big change of her life - she doesn't need it. She's done far bigger and scarier things than any other kid in her class (I'm guessing). Last year, she was taken from all she knew and brought to a brand new house with more questions than she could even articulate and no one answering in a way that made sense. And this was the scariest thing ever - even scarier than anything she'd experienced at home.

And she's done awesome. She can count to 11. She can check in with others who are sad. She can voice her wants and needs. Kindergarten is going to be easy-peasy.

Her teacher seems awesome and Child F. is excited. And the house is relatively peaceful with one less kid for the day. I can't wait to hear all about her first-day-of-school-adventures in about two hours!

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