Thursday, October 25, 2012

A perfect place for the kid

Many of you know the trials and tribulations of being and parenting a middle school kid. The hormones, self doubts and stress(in BOTH of us!!) create an environment unhealthy and nonsustaining.

Last Spring Sofie didn't get into the school of her choice. In hindsight, I'm grateful. Not that the school wasn't a good match. I think she would have done well there. Now I see there are better choices. When she was accepted into a public magnet school full of kids from a previous school she attended, I thought our issue of MS had been solved. I was optimistic and hopeful. She was not. She liked the school, the teachers and kids in particular. What she didn't like was the mixed messages she seemed to be getting. Her words were, "They're treating us like kindergartners in some was but expecting us to be adults in others!" She had a point. And while I think some kids are okay in an environment where they are responsible for everything they do, I know she's not there yet developmentally. For the first month or so of school the positive aspects of her day became increasingly tenuous for her and straining on me.

As luck would have it, I received an invitation to attended a tour at another school that I had been interested in last Spring. Unfortunately with my dad's health issues and driving back and forth to Greensboro, all while solo parenting, I had to put aside anymore investigation of that school. I was okay with that because I thought we'd found a good option in public school. The invitation couldn't have come at at better time in my mind. So a month ago, I took the morning off work and attended the open house at Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill. Honestly I wasn't sure it was going to be a good fit based on what I knew. I knew she was 5 plus years behind in Spanish, Music, Handwriting and a few other things. Thankfully I made time to go on the tour...and thank the Universe for putting EWS back onto my radar!

During the tour we visited each class, Grades 1-8, and observed the kids in their environment. A very fortunate turn of events occurred when a teacher who was on Sabbatical from another Waldorf school was on our tour. She had just finished a 1-8 loop(the teachers start with their kids in first grade and move up with them until they graduate 8th grade!!) She addressed many questions/concerns I had about moving to this school so late in the game. She had no qualms at all. Of course she'd never met Sofie but it was nice to get an outsiders perspective who knew about Waldorf education. During the tour, classroom after classroom, I kept thinking, "This would be a wonderful fit for my quirky, artistic girl!" After observing the 6th grade classroom and seeing her potentially new teacher interact with his class, I was convinced...from a parents point of view. After the meeting, I was fortunate enough to chat with that teacher and he was open to and encouraged the next step...completing the application. I rushed home and compiled all the relevant information and submitted the application right away. A few days later Sofie, due to the wonderful Director of Admissions and the 6th grade teacher,  was scheduled for her 3 day visit. the true test was about to begin.

Two weeks ago, Sofie visited EWS on Tuesday-Thursday. Prior to that visit we had long discussions about the differences...good and "perceived" bad. To note, the "bad" to her is the dress code requirements...nothing else. She wasn't too excited about the idea of tutors for things she might be behind in but was still willing to visit. I didn't offer my opinion on whether I thought the school was a good match or not. It was important that she test the waters without too many outside influences. I dropped her off with the 6th grade class and off to work I went. She was beaming with happiness and excitement every afternoon. She even showed the teacher her snarky 6th grade side when he and I were discussing a meeting time for the last day. (Afterwards he said he was glad to have seen that and it was perfectly normal for her age!!) So at the end of the 3 days, he and I talked for nearly 2 hours! He raised his concerns, I mine. We talked the good, bad and ugly of switching schools. By the end, we were 99.9% sure she was in but he needed to talk to the class to get their input and talk about adding a new member to the family. He also needed to chat with the Spanish, Handwork and Music teachers, too. In the end, no one had an issue and were happy to welcome her into the community. We found out on the Friday, just before their Fall Break that she was in! I registered her and that was her last day at her old school. She chilled for a week and prepared for her new adventure.

In her first week she's already started making a wooden egg in woodworking, learned and drawn more about Roman leaders, started writing on what makes a good leader(and she's using Wolves as an example...shock!!), started making a stuffed mountain lion, sang, talked about which second instrument she's going to play, had PE twice, Math, Language arts and worked on her Spanish. When I picked her up from after school the first day, she had constructed this house out of twigs, leaves, rocks and pine cones:

Week one is almost in the books and I have to say, she's never seemed more at ease, more enthusiastic or more confident about school. Yes, this is the honeymoon period. Yes, there will be times when she's just as miserable as she was at the other school(but for different reasons I assure you!) Yes, there will be trials and tribulations...she's 12!! As I see it, there's no place more loving and accepting for those trials and tribulations to occur.

A big heartfelt Thank You to Debra for having the fore thought to make this opportunity happen. As her guardian angel, I know you're watching over her and you're very proud of our girl.

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