It might not be a child’s favorite time of the year, but a surprising number of parents look forward to the resumption of school as the summer wanes. Myself included.
I am a firm believer in the idea that children do best in a structured environment where they know what’s going on and what’s expected of them. The typical lack of activities during summer vacation makes it darn difficult to retain that structure, and as my youngest has moved into her teen years, well, have YOU tried telling a teen it’s bedtime recently? 🙂
Today marks my 13yo’s first day at school, 8th grade, at the same school she’s attended since she was in kindergarten. She knows everyone in class, has two best friends, and even the same teacher she’s had for the last two years and who she really likes and respects.
My 17yo son, on the other hand, faces a huge back to school transition tomorrow: He’ll be switching from a small private high school to a big public school with over a thousand students. He’s anxious as heck, but I know that once he settles into his own rhythm at the school, he’ll be doing great too.
It’s interesting that I went to public schools throughout my childhood, including a 2000-student high school in Southern California, while my ex went exclusively to small private schools, never making it to a public school or public college.
School size is a tradeoff, of course. A big school has the benefit of a huge and diverse student population so that whatever you’re into, there’s someone else who is too. You can also get lost in a big school, becoming just a number to overworked teachers who can’t possibly keep track of 7 periods * 30+ children per class. In a small school, however, the social scene can be tiny and life can be like living in a fishbowl. Everyone knows everyone, which means that everyone gossips about everyone too, all too often in a judgmental, critical manner.
Still, a new year, new experiences, and new adventures. I can still be closely involved with my girl’s school experience – I’m the “class parent” for 8th grade – so can make sure things move smoothly. With my son, it’s logistically much harder, not to mention that a public 12th grade isn’t really a place where parents tend to be actively involved on a day to day basis anyway.
And so we push these precious boats down their respective ramps and hope we’ve taught them enough to float, manage the choppy waters that can come up and even sail laughingly into the sunset. Or at least their next day of school. I’ll be just be busy breathing out and appreciating us getting back into a rhythm and schedule.