The first day of school is such an emotional milestone for kids as well as for parents who open their hand to let go of their child's and then raise it in a wave until we see his backpack climb onto the school bus or walk through the doors of the school.
I've been through it four times now. And no matter how excited and proud I felt each time, there was also a messy mix of other emotions at play.
For some kids, it's an easy day. For others, it's harder.
I knew it would be the latter for my boy.
When I saw how scared he was, I wanted to turn around, take him home, and pretend the first day was still in the future.
But then I watched the way his teacher really noticed him, and I felt better about moving his hand from mine to hers. I kept watching as she took him to the front of the line beside her—where he stayed for the rest of that year.
He's a very bright kid, who enjoys school and looks forward to going. But he's also incredibly shy and deeply sensitive. He can be hard to read, because he keeps so much of what he's thinking and feeling inside. It isn't always easy for him to communicate what he needs.
For him to succeed in school, I knew my husband and I would have to work closely with his teachers to help them understand and support him. And I knew we'd have to show him that we believed they could. For our family, having school-aged kids means valuing the relationship between school and home.
We make an effort to get to know our kids' teachers, especially since we expect they'll make an effort to do the same for our family. The Ontario College of Teachers provides parents with information about their certified teachers with a search tool on their website called Find a Teacher. By searching a teacher's name, parents can learn about a teacher's qualifications, educational background, and current status with the college.
We're just over the halfway point of grade school with our wonder boy, and we could not be more grateful for the many ways his teachers have helped him shine.
His kindergarten teachers let him take his time getting used to the classroom. They encouraged him and cheered him on and helped establish school as a place he wanted to be.
His grade one and two teachers learned to read his body language instead of waiting for him to find the words, and they made him feel heard because of it. They celebrated his successes and pushed him through his challenges with empathy and care. They let him know they were there for him.
During a parent-teacher interview with his grade three teacher, he told me and his teacher he wished it wasn't so hard to talk to the other kids. Without skipping a beat, she said there were kids in the class who told her they really liked working with him and together they would figure out how to get to know those classmates better. And then she met my tear-filled eyes with tears in hers, and I knew she'd make it a priority to help him.
In grade four, he had two teachers who were new graduates. And we had our reservations about how things would go. To be honest, I think we underestimated the calibre of education and knowledge they would have coming into their position (all teachers who wish to teach in Ontario must be certified by the Ontario College of Teachers, you can learn more about the process here). They can bring new ideas and strategies to the classroom and their approach to social dynamics led to one of his most confident years yet.
His current teacher—at a brand new school—has brought a wealth of experience and specialized training to her role. He's finding new ways to stretch his thinking in a program geared to gifted learners, and we are watching him grow confidence and enthusiasm about his alternative way of thinking and learning.
When it comes to the partnership between our family and our kids' teachers, we believe it's a relationship worth investing in. We choose to participate in our province's education system, by having our children in its schools, and we feel it's our responsibility to stay informed and educated, so we can best support our teachers as they teach our kids.
To stay up-to-date and informed about the Ontario College of Teachers, you can sign up to receive the e-newsletter, The Standard (click here), which provides reports on trends in education, information about changes in education legislation, as well as services to help you learn more about how the College works to set and ensure high standards in teachers and education.
A few months ago, we sat down to make some holiday cards for the kids' teachers and my son turned to me and said, I'm going to need a whole bunch, Mom. I have so many teachers to thank. And I remembered that scared boy and felt such gratitude for every teacher who has brought him this far.
Is there a teacher who has made a difference in your child's school experience?
I would love to hear your story.
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This post is sponsored by the Ontario College of Teachers.
The story, opinions, and wonder boy are all mine.