Finding A School That Fits
Last week I attended a Prep Information night, and backed it up the following morning with a Prep Orientation session which Fred attended with me.
I came home from the Parent’s Information night with a few misgivings. I couldn’t put my finger on what I was feeling. After tossing and turning most of the night, I put it down to “New School Nerves”. And Fred was so excited about his play morning, I wanted to go into the school the next morning with an open and positive attitude, so I painted on a smile and off we went. We had deliberated over this school for many many months. It was a tough decision to send him to a different school to his sister, but having met with the Principal and spoken with countless parents, I felt really confident in our decision.
And then we arrived at the school.
And everything changed.
Something didn’t feel right. Everyone was pleasant enough, but the longer we sat there listening to those talking in front of us, the more I felt Fred’s discomfort rise. The children were given very clear directions about what they should be doing, and most were happily going along with the group. Fred, on the other hand, was velcroed to my leg. I felt like Jake-The-Peg with an extra leg. This wasn’t shyness – this was full blown terror. I could hear him silently screaming, “Don’t leave me Mummy”. My heart was slowly being torn apart.
Eventually he was forcibly removed from my leg, and I was rather directly told that I should go and relax and have a cup of tea and socialise with the other Mums. By this stage he was sobbing. I just managed to get around the corner out of sight before bursting into tears. My happy, confident, sociable child had suddenly disintegrated into this terrified little boy. In my head the words start circling, “This is not what I want for my children”.
But here was the problem. Everyone started telling me that this is “normal”. This is what I should “expect”. That he needs to work through these feelings and it was OK to expect a few tears. No.No. No. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
This is NOT what I believe. This is NOT how I raise my children. This is NOT what I want. I believe in kindness. I believe in nurturing little souls. I believe in gentleness. I believe in children feeling safe – above all else, they need to feel safe. For whatever reason, Fred did not feel safe. And neither did I. Like a dress that looks beautiful when hanging on the mannequin, the second we tried it on, I knew it was a bad fit. It didn’t mean that the dress wasn’t beautiful – and sure it would have been a great fit on some people. It just didn’t fit us. The school was fine – it just didn’t fit us.
I was at some pretty significant crossroads in our life. And as the saying goes, “When nothing goes right, go left”. So left we went. After lots soul-searching, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Fred should go to the same school as his sister – the same school he is at now for Kindy. I set the wheels in motion, and yesterday I confirmed his re-enrollment at his current school. The school he will now be at until then end of his High School years.
When we told him of the change, he threw his little arms in the air and said “YES!”. Today he ran into his kindy classroom, ran straight to the floor mat and did a handstand in the middle of the room (totally random behaviour!). I asked him what he was doing and he said “I am so EXCITED about going to Prep here!”. A fairly different reaction to the little boy I saw just days ago.
The ache in my heart has gone and I am looking forward to next year with enthusiasm, and a renewed confidence and sense of peace in our educational choices for our children.
Choosing schools is HARD WORK!
What do you consider when choosing the right school for your family?