Friday, September 2, 2016

First Day of First Grade

Choosing to homeschool Finn for kindergarten was the best decision for us, especially as we moved in the middle of the year.  However, I experienced severe burnout by the end.  Right before the move and after, I stopped doing the fun projects and just concentrated on the basics, sometimes skipping even that.  In honesty, I resented the time that school work took when I had so much else I needed to do.  In addition, I was homeschooling while coping with an autoimmune disease.  This meant I had a limited amount of energy.  If something didn't get done before noon or 2 o'clock at the latest, it didn't get done.  I felt a lot of pressure to get the most needful things done by that time: dinner, homeschool, laundry, other food preparation (breakfast, yogurt, bread, etc.)  There was just so much to cram into such a small window of time.

Finn and I also were experiencing a disconnect.  He was bored during the large amount of unstructured time during the day and causing trouble.  I spent all my time disciplining him.  There was a lot of yelling, and this really stressed our relationship.

Our recent move placed us into a good school district.  I repeatedly heard great things about the local elementary school from everyone I encountered (therapist, hair dresser, other parents).  However despite the fact that everything pointed to Finn needing to attend public school this year, I still doubted and worried.  I had drunk the homeschool kool-aid, and changing felt like failure.  Part of me really disliked the relinquishing of control over everything: curriculum, environment, knowing what was going on, etc.  Part of me worried about interactions with other children.  Would they be nice?  Mean?  I had *huge* anxiety over lunch.  What would I send?  Would he want to eat the cafeteria food?  Would he want what other kids were eating more than what he ate?   Would he throw away the food?  (I mean seriously, I don't know why my anxiety was greatest over the lunch situation, but it was.  In actuality, it is fine.)  And then I worried whether he would be academically challenged enough.  With homeschooling, you work on an individual level vs teaching to the class average or even lowest common denominator.  I knew I would be giving that up.

Enough dithering.  Obviously, I felt all the feels, so let's talk about how it went.  

Too intent on getting on the bus that he can't spare a full glance my way.  See ya mom!

Finn's thoughts?  It was such an exciting day.  He had so much to tell me after his first day, so many exciting things to share.  First, there were so many new rules and new routines.  There were recess "policemen" (his words) with whistles!  Different whistle sounds mean different things: line up on the line, stop playing, etc.  There were the school rules to learn!  He typed up a sentence on the computer!  There were Lego books on math to read!  He loved morning work!  He shared with me how lunch worked and told me that he was the first one to finish eating.  He said that other kids had more food, but his was more filling, and I had packed the perfect amount of food to eat.  He told me about the different activities available at recess.  He enjoyed riding the bus and sharing with me the things that happened.  (A boy missed his bus stop!)  He made a new friends on the bus!--a girl from the neighborhood that lives up the street.  The first thing he said when he got off the bus was, "the only problem with the bus is that it is too loud all the time.  The bus driver said he couldn't even hear." (The second day, he reported that it was a bit quieter.)  When we lie down at night, there are still more stories for him to share.  Tonight, after I had put Enna to bed, I came in to lie down with Finn, and he said, "can we talk about school now?"  We hadn't really stopped talking about school, but bedtime is his time to share everything without being interrupted by anything or anyone else.

This look?!  Kills me.  He is so excited and happy here.
How did I like the first day of school?  It was, in a word, heavenly.  There were a total of three time-outs for the entire day (right at bedtime of course.)  And three time-outs? Cake when you haven't spent the entire day refereeing a death match.  My well of patience at the end of the day is still full and brimming vs. barren and desiccated.  Enna and I were able to spend some quality time together, and as she is much more capable of entertaining herself than other children I could mention, I was able to get so much more done than normal.  Heck, I even cleaned our bathrooms, and if you don't think that is a celebration, you obviously have not seen the state of our bathrooms. It is also nice to know that after-school time is dedicated to my children.  I have a large chunk of time during the day to get my things done so that when Finn comes home, I can focus on him.  This wasn't so clear cut before when we were homeschooling, everything blended together.

I am sure the novelty will wear off, and Finn might not find school quite so thrilling.  However, after all my worry and anxiety, I am so grateful for a positive first day of first grade.


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