17 August 2016

First Day of School 2016

Rainy weather couldn't keep us from our annual first day of school pictures this year!  We just moved them to the porch!

This school year, Oliver is in 3rd grade.  Bennett is in 1st grade.  And Avonlea is in the 3-6 year old class.

This year's picture looks a little different than previous years (click here to see: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015) because nobody is wearing uniforms.  

This summer, Brian and I made the difficult decision to move our littlest kids to a new school.

Last Fall, Brian and I moved Oliver to a non-traditional school environment due to concerns he was not thriving in the traditional school model.  It didn't take long for us to recognize that the Montessori school environment is a great fit for Oliver's 2e learning needs.

While we were so happy last year to have all three kids' needs being met between two great schools, it became clear to Brian and me this Spring that, for our family's sanity sake, we really need all three children in the same school. 

Brian and I thought about, talked about and prayed about what to do.  It wasn't even clear until a week or so before school began, we learned that there was a spot open for Avonlea and Bennett to attend Oliver's school.

Bennett's previous school community (teachers, students and parents) have been nothing but amazing so it's made leaving hard.  Bennett has personally felt tremendous love and support from his school and friends so he feels very conflicted with leaving.  

But one consoling factor to Bennett is that, at this new school, Oliver and Bennett will get to be in the same class with each other every day.

Montessori schools traditionally group children by mixed age levels, rather than by one grade level.  The thought is that heterogeneous ages in one class encourages cross-age-group learning and independence.  

For example, Avonlea will be the youngest in her class this year of children ages 3-6.  Oliver and Bennett will be in the same class of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.

There was some worry at first as to whether it would be beneficial to the boys to have them in the same class.  Would Oliver, for example, be more worried about his brother now that they were in the same class, rather than if they weren't? 

The school staff and Brian and I talked and agreed that Oliver already worries about his brother's welfare as it is.  Having Bennett with him there every day might actually help Oliver to worry about his brother less.  Now, Oliver can see for himself that Bennett is doing well.  

Not all siblings are invited to be in the same class in Montessori schools.  Sometimes, sibling sets need to be separated during the school day.  But everyone agrees that Oliver and Bennett are very tender towards each other, get along great and will likely be very helpful for each other.  Oliver can be supportive of Bennett's unique experience as a first grader with cystic fibrosis...and Bennett may highlight for Oliver ways he's capable when he might otherwise not believe he is  

This is the picture Avonlea's teacher sent me today of her hard at work.  The picture shows Avonlea using a spoon to move some acorns from one bowl to the other (fine motor skills work).  

Avonlea cracked Brian and I up today.  We kept asking her if she was looking forward to going to her new school.  She had just met her teacher the day before so we had hoped she was warmed up enough to gain some excitement.  Her reply was very confidently: "I'm not going to a new school."  

Brian told her this morning, "I hope you have a good day at school today" to which Avonlea replied, "I don't want to go to a new school. I don't want a new teacher."  

As we pulled into the parking lot, Avonlea explained that we would be dropping off her brothers but that she would be "going home and getting something to eat."  

She said goodbye to Bennett and did walk down to her classroom with me.  But she continued to stay outside the door and explaining matter of factly that she wasn't going in.

...that was until she saw her teacher who she had met a few days before...and until she saw the interesting "toys" (Montessori calls them "works") on the shelves.  

Then, like a bug walking into a light zapper, she went right straight into that classroom without a moments hesitation.  She happily gathered the materials most interesting to her and sat down at the table.  

I actually had to call her name to get her attention to wave goodbye to her.  She did nothing more than look up and say, "bye!"

So much for "not going to a new school!" Ha!

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