Tuesday, October 1, 2013

School vignettes

* Katherine's school had a Parents' Night on Tuesday. We went and saw her large, comfortable classroom that she shares with a class of eight other children. We learned about their daily schedule, where they intersperse individualized academic instruction with ample breaks, group activities and physical exercise. We listened to how all of the students came up with the values they want the school to promote (honesty, kindness, etc.) and came up with rules based on those. We heard about the PTO, which has plans to raise money for things like a new swingset and field trips that don't turn our children into miniature Willy Lomans. Heading home, we retrieved Katherine from happily socializing with a group of kids ranging from 6 to 12.

* Last week, at pickup Katherine's teacher met me to tell me about a meltdown Katherine had had over wanting to be able to pick a partner for a schoolwide game when everyone's partner was randomly assigned. She eventually got with the program, but to my surprise, I wasn't being told this to report misbehavior, but simply to let me know why Katherine might be upset (she was fine by that point. While Katherine's need to work her way through dealing with the fact that things aren't going to be the way she wants them with the emotional equivalent of a force 10 hurricane is... aggravating, she at least has the virtue of getting over it when she's done). My reaction to these fits after weathering a few thousand of them is more along the lines of "Suck it up, Buttercup," but I'm glad she has a teacher who cares so much about her feelings.

* Over the past several years, Katherine has had some health problems that can result in embarrassing side effects. While they aren't the reason we chose to homeschool, it was a factor in not sending her back to school. I had absolutely no faith that the public schools would do anything to protect her from the potential social fallout. We were willing to risk sending her to camp because we had faith that a Quaker school would protect her from bullying, and we were lucky enough that there were only minor issues.

Well, after a year of only a couple infections, Katherine has managed to develop an infection that has made it through three rounds of antibiotics, and the side effects are definitely there and quite noticeable. And while I'm grinding my teeth with frustration over how rotten our luck has been (really, we haven't dealt with anything this bad in over two years), the school is dealing with it just fine. We've had several concerned conversations where it's clear their concern is her wellbeing and that they've been doing their best to keep the other kids from noticing.

When we were telling people about this school this summer, I was cautious, saying that we had liked everything we had seen so far and that they were saying all the right things. Because, of course, the gap between what an organization says and their execution can be wide. It's only been four weeks, but so far I can say we're extremely happy with how they're living up to their ideals.

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