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Starting School

Starting School

BY SUKIE JACKSON

I laugh when I think of the expectations my husband and I had for our first child, Kenji, as he started school at Ruth Washburn.  We wanted the perfect preschool and the perfect teacher. One of our biggest expectations was that he have perfect friends and be perfectly well adjusted himself, off on his way to being a happy, productive human being.

Reality set in the very first day of school. Our son was terrified. He did not want to be left and when I finally managed to pry myself away from him and get out the door, he and I were both in tears.

We talked with the school director who assured us that Kenji’s reaction to school and our anxiety were both normal. She had supported other families as they overcame this challenge. Knowing this was reassuring.

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Abigail on her first day of O2s

Kenji’s classroom teacher had great suggestions.

  • Have him arrive a little bit early each day, before children were engaged in play, so that he wouldn’t have to break into already established groups.

 

  • I should avoid long and drawn out good-byes but simply reassure Kenji that I would be back to pick him up.

 

  • He could bring a favorite animal or blanket from home to leave in his cubby.

 

  • And she asked us about Kenji’s favorite interests at home so she could have some familiar and favorite toys out for him.

I was finally able to see this school challenge as a problem we could work through and learn from. Although Kenji’s adjustment was a gradual process that took many weeks, he was eventually stomping around the classroom like a dinosaur and sharing large wooden blocks with his classmates.

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William’s first day of Outdoor 4s/5s

School life for Kenji and our two daughters has never been perfect. All three children have faced many less-than-perfect situations. Having dealt successfully with Kenji’s difficult adjustment to preschool gave my husband and me the confidence to work through these problems with our children and to recognize that good things can come from the problem solving process.

I have learned. There is no perfect school, perfect teacher, perfect friend, nor perfect son. It felt and feels so much better, as a parent,  to spend less time in life looking for perfect—and more time making less-than-perfect situations better.

Having said all that, I do think that Ruth Washburn Cooperative Nursery School is the perfect imperfect school, if that makes sense!

Sincerely,

Sukie Jackson, Teacher

2 Comments

  1. Alison

    September 7, 2016 10:35 am

    As they get older I am finding that we still have an “adjustment” back to school each year. As a 1st grader April still isn’t able to vocalize her feelings well, and she knows it’s not appropriate to act out at school. So, we’ve had some rough afternoons and evenings. But I know that “this too shall pass” and have tried to “make things better” by protecting our evenings for family time when I can. You are always wise Sukie. I miss the RW teachers who are so very thoughtful about these type of transitions for children!

  2. Anne

    September 7, 2016 8:27 pm

    And know that RWCNS is a wonderful wonderful experience for your children. Our youngest just graduated from U Iowa, and still says, driving by, that she wants to go back to preschool and the Big Wheel hill! I’m with her. Have a great year!

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