Whenever I am catching up with people (especially friends that I only have the pleasure of chatting with every now and then), I get asked some version of the question, "How is school going for Zosia?" Afterall, I came to share news of her first day, and those who know us know that we are an attached family. Going from being home for the vast majority of the day to being at school is a huge transition. And this was not just any huge transition, but the transition of our very first child to a very unknown setting. No matter how much experience we've gained over the years, with Zosia we will always be first time parents. And you all know how that goes: too much worrying! There were so many questions. Should we homeschool? Should we send her to private school? Catholic school? The public school? There are contingents that will make you feel like a horrible parent for doing any of those things, so we ultimately decided just to do what was right for our family. Isn't that really always the best course of action?
After many conversations, prayers, and information gathering sessions, we felt like we had made absolutely the right decision in sending her to the local public school, a wonderfully diverse community with a charismatic principal and many great teachers.
But, I will admit, the first month those school days seemed long. Zosia loved being at school, but it seemed like her best energy was spent there. Zosia came home tired to two siblings who had been waiting all day to play with her. She was grumpy. Weekends were wonderful havens for us and we enjoyed our time together and I kept wondering, "Now why don't I just keep her at home?"
Just when I started to think that perhaps I had gotten this one wrong, something changed. As the weeks went by, Zosia started to settle into the new routine. She came home now with many stories of new lessons and experiences. She was learning new things, making new friends, and seemed to be thriving in her new setting. Her teacher, who is adorable and sweet and everything you hope for in a kindergarten teacher, was finding ways to teach her things that I would have never thought of. And we started receiving feedback that she was very much thriving at school: academically, socially and emotionally. We were thrilled to hear it all, but especially that she was able to be kind and loving to those around her, because when you boil it down, that is what we strive to teach her here at home. Those of you who know Zosia know that she loves to do things right, and it seemed that school gave her a wonderful opportunity to do just that.
Not only that, but she was coming home and (after a brief rest, of course) being her wonderful self here, too. Put simply, thriving. Which makes breathe a huge sigh of relief: that she is in such a nurturing place, that she is lucky enough to be able to receive a wonderful education, that she has many good friends from all over the world whose parents love their children just the way that we do. (Whew, I'm always hesitant to write such in depth posts for fear of boring you, but felt like it might be helpful to others who are discerning a similar decision. My advice: do what is best for your family, whatever that may be. And of course, if it isn't working in a chronic sort of way, make changes. And don't be quite as terrified of the local public school!).
Which brings me to this morning when I got to get on the old school bus and chaperon a field trip to the nature center (many thanks to the contingency of friends, neighbors and family members who made it possible by helping with the other kids... geez, I feel like I'm mobilizing an army to get out the door by myself). You know I'm a sucker for the nature center. And we just happened to go to one of our very favorites in the area. I learned that holly bushes can be both male and female and only females have berries, that beavers have surprisingly soft fur, that turtles can live to be 120 years old, and that everything sounds much louder when you cup your hands around your ears. The kids loved it and learned a lot. It was really cute. I sort of wish that I were in the kindergarten.