My nine year old son started attending school when he was two.
For the first year, or so, he went to a county-run preschool for children with developmental disabilities because of his motor and speech delays. It was a good place for him to get daily therapy and socialization, but it wasn’t really the right fit for him.
When he was old enough, we moved him to a local preschool and into a classroom with a teacher/student ratio of 2/9. The teachers were attentive and patient and we kept him there through Pre-K, which, in the end, turned out to be a pretty disastrous school year.
For Kindergarten, we turned to a small, private school where they hired me to work as an aide. If my son ever had any issues, I was right upstairs, and when he moved into first grade I started working in the cafeteria so that I could be there even more.
This year, he is in third grade. I don’t work at the school anymore and, ironically, it is the first time that I have sent him off in the morning without ever-looming worry. I know he will be fine.
What makes this year so different isn’t that he’s doing better academically; he has always done well in that regard. It isn’t because he’s more independent, because that has been a long, slow process that I couldn’t help but see coming. And, it isn’t because he doesn’t choke as often when he eats…though that is pretty awesome.
This year is terrific because his teacher “gets” him.
There is something to be said for understanding that everyone, even children, have different personalities…and boy, does my kid have one! The third grade teacher appreciates my son’s sense of humor. I know this, because almost every time she approaches me to tell me when he’s been up to, she is laughing.
The other day, when she saw me at the school, she did just that.
Apparently, that day, when the class handed in some papers, she saw that my son’s wasn’t labeled with his name.
She noticed before he walked away and said, “Hey, wait a minute. How will I know this is yours if you didn’t put your name on it?”
He took his worksheet back from her and quickly took pencil to paper.
Then he handed it back and said, “Here. Mine’s the one with the X.”