Sunday, August 23, 2009

First Day of School! First Day of School!

Nemo is chanting in my head right now. Tomorrow is it--the day I send ALL my kids to school for the very first time. I'm really not sure which of us is more excited. The kindergartner is really stoked; her level of excitement may be higher than mine. Maybe.

It's unique to be able to send all of them to the same school. Without the opening of the new charter school in Tooele, it wouldn't be possible. I have one 7th grader, two 5th graders, one 3rd grader and, of course, one kindergartner. I got an earful yesterday of the benefits of a "middle school" verses a JR High from the school's director yesterday. It made me remember my own experience.

I attended a K-4 school, then a 5-8 school. I guess that would be considered a "middle school" but to me it felt like an extended grade school. There's no ceremony after graduating 4th grade. We just went on to the next level. And in 5th graded we started changing classes for math and language arts. We had like 3 teachers. We had 4 or so teachers in 6th grade. The experience of 5 or 6 teachers didn't happen until 7th and 8th grades. By then we were ready. More than ready. I never felt traumatized or freaked out by the experience, and didn't experience any of the peer pressure or downright assaults that reportedly happen in JR High these days.

Entering high school after graduating 8th grade did not worry me at all. I felt prepared. Looking back, I think it was the structure of my 5-8 school that prepared me for it. By the time you're 14 and ready to take on the world, having your own locker and going from class to class makes you feel mature and grown up. It's exciting more than intimidating. And that was when I first started writing, so I can't feel bitter about my freshman experience on any level.

I'm hoping these next two years will help my oldest transition into high school. I'm not at all bothered by his missing the JR High experience, though he really was looking forward to spending the next two years with his friend. I can't feel bad about that either. I met the girl once. She deliberately put me into a position of lying to her dad, or helping her lie to her dad, by my actions. I didn't appreciate that and I find it difficult to encourage the friendship. Though I probably won't say anything until he's a little older, I think my son's in a better place if he's not around her influence.

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