Monday, July 28, 2014

School Days, School Days

This year, I will have a kindergartner and a third grader. And I will spend every day wondering where the time went. They will say goodbye again to full days at the daycare provider's house - a daycare provider named Ms. Cathy who also happens to be my best friend and more like a teacher/aunt/grandma to my kids than anything else - and begin full days of learning at their school.

Their usual "Ms. Cathy says" will be replaced by "My teacher says..." The struggle my daughter and I have as I try to help her sound out letters and she defiantly tells me she doesn't need nor want to learn will be eclipsed by her desire to come home and read everything because her teacher taught her. I will again be schooled on why I shouldn't do something this way or that because their teachers tell them how it should be done. 

And I will again smile at their constant lessons because, though I wish I could keep them little forever, they are growing and becoming wonderful little beings because of the teachers in their lives.

I remember when my oldest started kindergarten. He couldn't read yet and barely knew his letters and though we worked with him (though probably not as much as we should have), he just didn't care much about learning. He wanted to be adventuring! I worried and worried those first couple months of school because I'd heard about so many kids his age who were already reading, and here he couldn't even sound out the word "and". Not only was I worried, but he was.

In December of that year, he read me an entire book. Sounded out the words and while not all were correct, we got through it - and he did it. I cried when we were done. All the worrying, all the hours of frustration because he just didn't get it... gone in three months because of a teacher who knew what he needed to learn.

At the end of his first grade year, we learned he was reading at a beginning 4th grade level according to testing. He'd asked to read Harry Potter and I thought, sure, go ahead, thinking that he could definitely sound out the words but the comprehension would be lost.

Wrong.

He read it and understood it. (And I learned quite a lesson about having faith in your kids.)

I know all children are different, and respond differently to various teaching styles. We've been lucky to have teachers that seem to really be able to reach our kids and get them excited about learning.

Our daughter has had a strong start thanks to Ms. Cathy and her wonderful Pre-K teacher with learning letters and writing. Yet it's not just about the reading that I'm excited about now as my daughter enters kindergarten. I'm most excited to see how she grows as a person, because I think that's my favorite part of them heading to school. I send in a timid, shy, nervous little kid to that giant, decorated classroom for the first time. I go home and cry a little while they try and sort out the newness of everything around them and make sense of all the big-kid stuff. We repeat this every day for a year but I find that way before the end of the year even approaches, my child isn't timid, shy or nervous anymore. They're outgoing and excited; they're asking more questions; they're testing me and their dad about math and writing and more.

At the end of the year, when their teachers are exhausted and ready for summer vacation, I hope they realize that my children's lives are forever changed because of the time spent in their classroom. Who these children are is shaped in part by the love and patience and guidance of teachers who do so much for so very little thanks. And years from now when they are recalling stories of their favorite teachers, your name won't just echo off their lips. It will echo in my heart, too.

Thank you for all you do for all the children in your classroom, teachers!

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