At the end of April I put Sam in a new school. I know it seems a little crazy to make a switch so late in the year, but he was not thriving where he was and I didn't see the point in prolonging it until the end of the year.
In the last few weeks my old Sam, who had been replaced by an angry, sullen version of his former self, has returned. He is smiling, happy, enthusiastic again (of course not all the time, but much more generally). While he may never love school with all his heart, he has now found things about it to embrace. A change of scenery was just what he needed.
This is a good reminder to me that schooling the children has to be an 'every child every year' decision. It is not about what is easiest for me (one school), but rather what the children's individual needs are. It would be my preference to have all my children in Catholic school from Kinder through 12th, but alas, I am forever learning that my preference is not always the best way. And that is a good thing, as it keeps me open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in my life.
As many of you know, Jay and I have been all over the board educationally (no pun intended). When Joey was not succeeding in Catholic school I home schooled him for two years. When that was not academically successful (though it was key in rebuilding his confidence, which was the most important objective at the time) he moved to public school. There he stayed until this year when he went to Paraclete Catholic High School and fit in perfectly. I couldn't have predicted that path when I saw him off to his first day of Kinderarten 10 years ago, but it was right for him.
Tony, with a summer birthday, spent one year of Kinder at the local public school (which, blessedly, is excellent) and then went on to repeat Kinder at our Catholic school. Natalie will do the same, beginning this fall, as she has a December birthday. I opted for Transitional Kindergarten rather than another year of preschool as I believe she is ready.
Now Sam has transitioned to public school which is a better fit for his way of learning. Julia, too, will be giving public school a go next year as a fifth grader. Yet, Lindsey will graduate from Catholic school next year having been happily rooted in her class of 36 students from Kinder through 8th. Tony and Bella also continue in Catholic school. To sum this up, next year I will have seven children in four schools, two Catholic and two public. Yikes! Yet, though I may go broke from driving them all over the valley, I am confident it is right thing for each of their individual needs and that, as a result, our home will be a more peaceful and happy one.
This was all clarified for me yesterday when I dropped Sam off at school. His school has a wonderful greeter who opens the car door for the kids and makes sure they get in the gate safely. She is always cheerful and wears funny hats on holidays, and it has become a highlight of our day to see what she will be wearing or say when we drop off. As Sam got out of the car she stuck her head in the car and said, "What a pleasure it is to see both of you smiling and talking together when you pull up. You'd be surprised how many people seem angry when they drop off their children." That stopped me for a few reasons.
First, I realized how wonderful it is to have Sam back to his old self. That is exactly what we were doing, talking and laughing, and it had been awhile since that had happened so naturally given how unhappy he had been for so long. It validated the decision I had made in an instant.
Second, I was struck by how sad it was that this merited a comment at all. How many carry that attitude throughout their day? How many times have I used our drives to lecture the children on what they need to do better that day rather that setting a positive tone for their day? It made me much more aware that my attitude in the morning can set the tone for the days of eight other people. How important it is for me to be cheerful!
Thank you, Mrs. Wyatt of Valley View school, for your observation, which has enlightened me this day.