Mosaic Monday

Room 6 reading cushions – a thank you and farewell gift to Cycle 1 in Room 6. Miss Tadpole has had two beautiful years there and is moving on and up into Cycle 2 next year.

(interrupting myself to warn you that I do go on a bit at this point)

While I was doing the boring bit (zips and seams) I reflected on the last two years of school for our tadpoles. We moved the lad from a mainstream school into Montessori then, after a less than great experience in Prep and Grade 1. His first year wasn’t too bad, except for the boredom. And the realisation that he was a little different to the other boys. He liked to read and learn, loved creative writing, art and music and was utterly passionate about fairness and what was right. The only thing that kept him from being bullied in Prep was that he was also bloody good at sport.

Grade 1 was a year we thought would never end. He was highly anxious by the end of Term 1 and refusing to go to school by Term 2. The harassment/bullying wasn’t fabulous, either. A noisy, disrupted classroom made him feel desperate, he was bored witless and there was little let up in the playground. The child the teachers described and the child we knew at home were two different beings. A child that was so eager to learn we were grateful we knew nuclear physicists and that I was doing my phd in political science had transformed into a child who developed headache and stomach cramps at the thought of school. Patient discussion with the school went nowhere.

We looked at the alternatives, found a Montessori school nearby, made an appointment for a school tour and we were hooked. The research we did beforehand was enlightening and simply made sense. We walked into a school that was so friendly and an environment so tuned to our education values that it felt like home. We brought the tadpoles on a tour; 3 and 6 at the time, they were besotted with the place and Master Tadpole couldn’t believe what the children his age were learning about (the Big Bang, geography, music, botany…). Miss Tadpole wanted to go to school straightaway. And that was the other thing to consider: a bright an inquisitive 3 and a half year old who tended to find creche a little dull and not exciting enough was not going to find Master Tadpole’s school any improvement.

We applied. And in a moment that really has been life changing, both were accepted. Unusually, they were accepted mid-cycle which is to say that they went into the second year of a three year cycle of learning and development. Miss Tadpole was in the middle group of Cycle 1 (3 and 4 year olds; Preps) and Master Tadpole into Grade Two of Cycle Two (Grades 1, 2 and 3). At the end of Master Tadpole’s third day we picked him up as he was still getting his stuff together. One boy, guessing we were his parents, ran up to introduce himself as Master Tadpole’s friend. Another two boys were nearby, heard this and ran up to say that they were his friends, too. I looked down at this 7 year old boy who was slightly abashed at how much these kids wanted to be his friend and how proud they were of it. After six weeks, I met with his teacher who was able to describe this child, indicate his likely strengths and weaknesses, and then say how friendly he was and so pleasant to have in the classroom. I was supposed to think of other things to say but I could only sit there and think how she was the only teacher who had understood him and known him so well. I said as much; and nearly wept with relief when her puzzled reply was that she was sure they’d get to know each a lot better over the next two years.

They have. Master Tadpole, with some bumps, has blossomed and grown in the most gorgeous way. We know the prompts he needs for some part of his work, and we can see him flying with so much of his other work. He is a smiling, confident boy who is relaxed in the company of his peers. Miss Tadpole has revelled in the ‘work’ of the last two years, and learned to read and write and believe in her abilities. She has learned to help the younger students and typed her first email. She finds joy in her schoolwork, her friends and her teachers. She’s ready to move on; they both are and we can only be thankful.

This has been a bit of a rave but I needed to say it somewhere. We have found a community and an education that lovingly surrounds our children; a group of teachers whose first question is to wonder ‘where is the child at?’. It may sound too good to be true. But when things are such a good match, when there is so little difference between school and home, and where respect is openly valued and supported, then it really is as good as it sounds.

I figure a few reading cushions is the least I can do.

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2 Comments

  1. Mary said,

    December 1, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    It sounds absolutely wonderful. Thank the education gods you were able to sort this out so early in their schooling lives.

  2. Frogdancer said,

    December 11, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Those cushions make me wish I was running a school like that from my lounge room. Really excellent thank you present!


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