Wednesday, May 30, 2012
You know what I said about not being ready? We went to the school on Monday and I changed my mind.
It's big. Much bigger than I (or M) have been used to in elementary school (my school was led by nuns, in one -barely- converted aisle of a coventry. There was one class per level, and no kindergarten. Phys Ed was taught in an old chapel. When I started, it had only been 7 years since girls were first allowed to attend).
In LP's school, there is an aisle... just for kindergarten. Six whole classes of them. The vibes were very cheerful and good, with mini-lockers and color everywhere: drawings of parrots reminiscent of Bruno Munari's Zoo, crafts, glitter. LP visited his class with oohs and aahs. He barely noticed when we left, and we heard him ask out loud: "Are we going to visit the whole school"? Which made the (super nice) teacher laugh.
We were taken to one of the three gyms (!), which had a climbing wall. The two principals (a woman -from my hometown!- and a man in their fifties, which were almost cliché in their principal-like apparence and behaviour (I mean that in a good way)) talked and introduced us to some of the personnel and discussed everything we needed to know.
There's a great library. Kids have English-language storytime every week, even starting from when they're 5. There's a school band, and a music room. There's an apparently outstanding drama program for all kids, two hours a week. K-kids go to recess with the 6-graders, and only these two grades together, they told us. My first instinct was, er, why? Won't the big kids hurt and tease and be annoyed by the "babies"? Well, not at all! It's so they can help with the little ones, of course, they said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world! It's part of their "introduction to community involvement and volunteering" program.
All the personnel seemed great. I sometimes hear horror stories of underfunded, overextended school with completely overwhelmed and burnt out resources. I feel extremely bad that it happens because it's awful for the kids and because I think teachers (the ones from daycare too) should be national heroes, but I know unfortunately it does... It was the opposite of that. Each class has, on top of a teacher, a specialized education one ("whose job is mostly to work on social skills and self-esteem") as well as an aide. There are resources like I thought public schools didn't have anymore: a nurse, a language specialist, a development specialist, a psychologist...
When we came back to our son, he was over the moon. He showed us the clown craft and portrait of his family he had made. He seemed, for the first time in a long time, very stimulated in a good way. He loves his daycare and his friends, but I think he's just so ready for the next step now. So ready and eager to learn. We feel completely at ease, and confident that this environment will be beneficial for him. And I hope even more than ever that I can somehow at one point make a part-time/freelancing schedule happen, because I would LOVE to get involved in the school in some way (they have all kinds of possible little tenures for parents).
I'm ready. We feel like it's just one extra blessing brought by our move. I'm excited. I'm borderline disappointed that it's not going to happen for another 3 months.