Sparky’s New School

So last Wednesday (yeah, I’ve been busy, more on that later) was Sparky’s first day at his new school in his French grade two class…

… and he had a blast.

He’d been worried, and we’d been worried as to how he’d handle it. We did everything we could to prep him, including a tour of the grounds and a secret tour with his principal of the inside of the school the last night before school began, after studying French with him all summer and being supportive and encouraging, but it was all up to him after we saw him off into the building, following his new teacher. He came and gave us a few hugs while everyone milled around and lined up, and he nearly cried once, but he was very brave, and we are so proud of him. We introduced him to a random nice-seeming kid whose mother had bought him up to check in with the teacher just before we did, and he found a friend that he’d been in kindergarten with in his other school, too. So we felt better about the not-knowing-anyone part by the time they went in to class, anyway.

We know this is the right thing to do — his other school was just too easy, and we didn’t want him to run into the ‘I’m bored so I’ll stop trying’ trap at some point — but we also know it’s going to be challenging. Which is kind of the point, but still, as a parent, you hate doing anything that causes your child distress, even if it’s for a brief period. It will take a couple of months for everything to settle properly, but an awesome first day does a lot for everyone’s outlook.

In the interest of full revelation, I asked him how he’d done with the French, and he said, “Fine! Rebecca (the friend he’d known in kindergarten) translated everything for me!” Which is not exactly… well, whatever. It all starts somewhere, right? And we know he does understand a lot more than he can speak.

The nerves hit on the second day, though. I got a call from the office just past ten o’clock saying that Sparky wasn’t feeling well and could I come and pick him up? Owlet had just gone down for her nap, and I suspected he wasn’t actually ill, so I said I’d be there by ten-thirty. Five minutes later the phone rang again, and the receptionist said to hold off, because the principal had overheard who was in the office and now had him in her own office for a talk. The principal called me afterwards and we agreed that it had been nerves (although there was an element of seasonal allergy there, stuffing him up and making him a bit unhappy), and that to bring him home would make going back the next day even harder. So I picked him up as planned at lunch, as it was a half-day, and he was much better. I don’t know what we’d do without this principal. She’s part of why we decided to make the switch, and she’s been just wonderful.

Friday was the first full day, and when I met him outside under the trees he was bouncing. First of all, he’d lost his eighth tooth, always an exciting event at school. His teacher had put it in a little blue treasure chest for him, and he refused to put it under his pillow. (“Because it’s much more valuable to me than the Tooth Fairy, Mama,” he explained that night. Um… okay?) But there was something else, too.

“Mama, I learned two new French words today!” he said with great enthusiasm. “Really?” I said, very pleased. “Which ones?” And then he proceeded to rattle off, ”Est-ce que je peut aller a la toilette,” and “Est-ce que je peut aller boire de l’eau”, both of which are significantly more than two new words! And he said them clearly and with good accent, like it was easy, and it was. I should have known he’d learn better from people who were not his parents. It’s the same reason I didn’t start teaching him cello, but sent him to my teacher instead. We can teach him general skills, but when it comes to formal teaching, he learns better from someone else. Being in a group of kids who are all speaking French helps, too. It’s just like how he walked a week into going to a caregiver with other kids who could walk, after choosing not to at home for a couple of months.

So, school is just fine so far. He is positive and excited about it, for which we are very thankful. I’m so very proud of him for handling it the way he’s doing.

(And wow, do I ever need a new icon for Sparky.)

2 thoughts on “Sparky’s New School

  1. lu

    SO GLAD HE’S DOING WELL! Transferring to a new school at any time is difficult, but switching languages makes it especially challenging. Go Sparky Go!

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