Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School

Today was Bess' first day of Primary 1, which is the first step of Kindergarten at Wellspring Community School. To hear her tell it, today was not, in fact, the first day of school because they only spent an hour there. But during that hour they selected their symbols (which are used to identify the students to pre-readers - Bess selected a ladybug in honor of her friend Claire who is not attending Wellspring this year) and examined the new and improved layout of the classroom. Not only that, but they identified things that were the same as last year with an S and things that were different, which was almost everything, with a D. So they worked on some phonics and letter recognition in addition to reacclimating themselves to the environment.

It is not a short trip to overstimulated for Bess, but today she was just out of control excited. She LOVES school, and could not wait to see her teacher Anne and her friends, and to meet some new friends too. We constantly have the discussion in our home whether private school is worth the money when we live in such a "good, high-achieving" school district. That was, in fact, one of the reasons we chose to move to this particular town when we moved almost six years ago. Since then, though, my thinking about school and its goals (actual and ideal) has changed quite a bit. For me, right now, yes - it is worth every penny. It is worth it for my daughter to learn in a close-knit community where they learn about cooperation and responsibility to a group in addition to the academics, for her to be excited to go to school and excited to learn new things, to be excited to show her friends a beautiful spider web on the fence complete with a meal-in-waiting for the architect of the web.

Would she gain these things in public school. Maybe. But then I would have lot less control over who she spends so much of her time with, and her experience would be much more variable from year to year. In some ways that could be good, I guess, but for a child who does not deal with transition and direction that well I think it would probably do more harm than good. For now, I'm so, so happy to be where we are.

I am a scholar-turned-mother/activist who is interested in sustainable living and social justice. I have published a number of articles and given presentations internationally on the topics of voluntary simplicity and humane parenting. Learn more at my website www.beautifulfriendships.net.

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