Thursday, January 27, 2011

First day of school, sort of

We couldn't believe our oldest child had reached school age. The night before school started, B and I reminisced how not that long ago we brought this little bundle home from the hospital and her first day of kindergarten seemed so far away. And yet here it was.
I had my doubts, though.
I did my best to set them aside and try to prepare K for this new step. It was difficult--for somebody who has such a love of learning, she had so many hesitations. The school gave us next to no information about its expectations or routines, despite my attempts to contact the principal the previous spring and summer. When we registered her and asked if we could please see her classroom, we were told, no, we weren't allowed. It seemed rather odd, almost secretive. So much for parents as partners! But the school had a good reputation, surely everything would right itself.
The first day of school finally arrived. The custom at this school is that before class starts all the students line up outside according to classroom; then when the bell rings they process into the building. K dutifully joined the line of excited and fearful kindergartners, I joined the parents hovering close by. The bell rang, their teacher appeared at the kindergarten door and welcomed the children inside. She smilingly but firmly waved goodbye to the parents- we were not allowed to accompany them into their room. As the last of the line disappeared inside, a couple of parents hopefully tagged along behind. The rest of us watched to see if maybe we too, could follow in after all and make sure our children were being settled into this new experience. But no, they were quickly sent back out. The door closed and the noisy school yard was empty and quiet. For a moment everyone just stood there silently and an image popped into my mind that the big building was a monster and we had just been duped into offering it our precious children. I knew it was silly, but I'll never forget that feeling of 'ugh, how could I just give my child away like that?'
I know the first day is harder on the parents than the children. I noticed as we turned away to head back to the car that mine were not the only eyes with tears. But she survived, and a couple hours later T and I joyfully returned to pick her up and bring her home.
It took all of her resources and it was a major adjustment for her, but K managed to acclimate to kindergarten. But it became clear it was not a learning environment that was good or suited to her at this time. After a lot of thought and a lot of prayer, we made the decision to withdraw her and begin homeschooling at the beginning of the second quarter. The morning of the day we had decided we would tell K that we were going to be homeschooling, K told me about a dream she'd had. She'd dreamed it was recess time at school, but when she went outside, all the play equipment was new and different. She described some of it and told me she played on it and had a fun time. I felt a lift of joy as she told me this dream. It seemed God provided the perfect way to explain homeschooling to her--it would be a new and different way to learn, but lots of fun. Then, on her last day of school, her teacher gave me a hug and said how wonderful it was that I was able to do this and K would go so far with homeschooling. I was amazed and searched her face for any sign of cynicism or sarcasm, but there was none. Only a trace of longing as if it was something she was longing to do with her child. She even gave us some extra workbooks to keep.
Homeschooling was a decision we haven't looked back from since. It has been a joy. I have a few more posts of the interim time to do, then I plan to share some of the activities we have been doing. So, I think this will continue to be a blog of episodes from our daily life, but now that life is much concerned with "school". I don't know how long we will homeschool, but soon I think you will see why we are enjoying this journey so much.
Special thanks to Melissa, Karis and Mindy for answering my many homeschooling questions and providing insight from your own journeys as we pondered this decision.

1 comment:

Mindy said...

What a beautiful gift K's dream was! It certainly sounds like you're off to a good start. Bless you, Rena! And I'm so glad you're back to blogging again.