Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thoughts On Sending My 2-Year-Old to School: An Update on the Experiment So Far

Was I wrong to send my 2-year-old to school?

We're six weeks into the school year now, and there's been a lot of adjusting ... but a routine seems to have emerged. 

Grace is in school twice a week, for a full day. I am teaching four classes, and I am with her in the nursery for the remaining three periods, as well as at mass, lunch and recess. Initially, she stayed in the nursery while I taught, but I could not bear hearing her cry for me as I dropped her off. Being just across the hall, I could hear her screams go on for what seemed forever. I couldn't concentrate.  I just wanted to give up, take her in my arms, and run.

But we had her best interest in mind when we started, and I couldn't see myself backing out and leaving my students without a teacher. So now she is with me when I teach, sitting at a table with crayons, coloring book, puzzles, and whatever else I can think of to entertain her for a 40 or 50 minute block of time. I just have to make it a priority to hide the dry erase markers each time, so she doesn't come home with more of those abstract works of art on her arms and face.

She says she enjoys going to school now that I don't 'abandon' her to the nursery.  She really likes coming to class with me. And when we get home, it's fun to watch her mimick me as she teaches her teddy bears that God made them, and gives them occasional permisson for bathroom breaks.

Having fun with the other children at the All Saints Party.
 She knows the names of most of the children in the nursery now, and the answers to some of the kids' catechism questions! She really loves the babies in the nursery, and being with the first grade class. As they color the pages of their prayer book project, she does the same right there with them.

Her behavior at mass has really changed over the past few weeks. She is learning to sit quietly without snacks or apple juice. I don't bring toys for her. She still likes to stack and play with the missals, but at least she's much more quiet than before. She doesn't talk through the mass any more. She still moves around a lot...and I have to see that there's someone on the other end of the pew so there's no route of escape to the holy water font / pool in the back.  Someday, I am sure we'll all hear a big splash. I just hope she's not the one who takes the plunge (a number of our toddlers share her fascination for the holy water font).

She's learning to be around other children, though she can't focus on one thing for long enough to really enjoy playing with another child very long. There are sweet moments, and those that result in time-outs. But she is to get along.  The sweetest thing has been seeing her learn to "watch out" for those she feels are younger than her, even if the difference in age is only a few months.  She makes it her misson to be sure the littlest ones have toys, even if they are too young to actually play with them. At least she's sharing! Sometimes. I won't mention the tug-o-wars over building blocks or train tracks with those closest to her own age.

I also enjoy watching her run with the others at recess. The joy on her face is immense.  And my heart gets a good warm/fuzzy coat as I see the older children watching out for her making sure she knows where I'm at (recess is the one time when she ISN'T clinging to me, it seems...though she still likes to know where I am, just in case).

All in all, my doubts are fewer. I'm enjoying the company of the other homeschooling moms, and the chance to break up our old routine with this new adventure.  If all she learns this year is to "play nice," make friends, and have fun, then mission accomplished!