her homework for the first day was to bring a nature treasure that fit into the palm of her hand. she carried this dried flower so delicately all morning long as she waited for me to be ready to drive her to school.
i have raised her in the waldorf way, meaning that imagination and creativity have been the priorities, not academics. her new school uses experiential learning and does not do testing or textbooks. her teacher uses stories to teach and has the kids in nature for many of their lessons.
i shared with her teacher my concern about sienna's lack of academic knowledge and she reassured me many times that she was not worried, she had no expectations, and that she would work with the children wherever they were at. however, on the third day of school she asked me to stay and talk with her. it seems all the other children in her class (there are 9 total) are already reading. there is a significant gap in what sienna has been exposed to and where the other children are. the concern seems to be around her potentially developing social anxiety as she realizes she is not where her peers are. specifically, they have reading time for a small block each day. during this time she looks at books while the other kids around her are reading.
it seemed so appropriate to me that i ended up parked next to this graffiti just hours after i dropped her off for her first day. fortunately it is more a statement on my personal sentiments rather than hers! ;)
now i face some big decisions. move her to the kindy where she will be the oldest in her class again (she had this experience already in my program and it was wonderful, but as a born *leader* i was pleased that she would be joining her own peer group this year)? try to accelerate her learning of the lower case letters and letter sounds at home using waldorf methods whilst still allowing time for letting the lessons resonate inside her? allow her teacher to tutor her after school in a more traditional way?
ah, this has been an intense time of letting go for me. i have worked so hard to protect and honor my children's early childhood which included creating programs that i wanted to see them in as we went. as this year approached, i had sudden feelings of abandoning my ship and turning my focus toward first grade. however, i have invested a lot in bringing waldorf early childhood education to this community and it feels good to share that with others. my work is not done at dandelion hill. besides, jasper has three more years with me there! ;)
a sweet mama friend sent me a heart warming message the first day sienna went to school. it brought forth the tears that i was holding in all day. a release i so needed. i hope she doesn't mind that i share some of them here. they are words that will stay with me always.
as you send off your first born out into the school world...the pain and sadness and tears and nostalgia you feel... those emotions are all reflective of the consistent and deep ways you lived life to the full with sienna in her "preschool" years.........that depth makes today and this week hard, but be encouraged that you in no way diluted that experience to make today easier. the good road causes pain but what a good pain.
the same day, the beautiful post at wabi sabi wanderings echoed the sentiments in my deepest soul. such a delicate balance, holding them so close and letting them move so far away.
this sweet boy and i have never had consecutive mama/son time. he is usually off playing with his sister for much of the day. i find that with her out of the house so much, he is by my side all the time. i am loving nurturing this relationship with my dear boy!
and on that note.....he and i start school tomorrow ourselves! i must get back to work now!