Today was Nate's first full day of kindergarten. He's been proud to demonstrate his new math skills ("10 take away 7 is ... ") and show us a school library book. But the one who has done the real learning so far has been me.
He missed the actual start day Monday, when we was denied admission because of an avoidable paperwork issue (click here for the full story). Then yesterday he missed half a day while we went to the doctor to get him caught up on shots. So today was the first he spent the whole day there -- from carpool lane to after-care. And he did great, of course.
I was really upset when everything happened Monday. I questioned myself and my decisions. I felt bad as a mom. I said some angry things. Yesterday I had a more civilized discussion with the principal, who admitted that mistakes had been made on their part. And we admitted a mistake had been made on ours. She asked if I would help them with their communication process, which I'm glad to do so no other parent has to go through what we did.
So what have I learned so far? Specific to education, and more specifically, what to keep in mind when you have a kid starting a new school:
- Ask many, many questions.
- You are your child's best advocate. If they say everything is taken care of, double check.
- Just because a school has many communication channels does not mean they are good at communicating with parents (Just like in business, a Facebook page and Twitter feed doesn't solve everything).
- Schools have registered kids for a million years and may forget to communicate basic facts. If this is your first go around registering a child for a certain school, make sure that they know. There are no stupid questions.
And one that's not specific to education, but is the lesson we learn over and over again:
We're not always in control. Things go wrong. High expectations of storybook endings -- or beginnings -- can lead to major disappointment. Ah yes, the prime lesson of parenthood and one that we have to teach our children as well. We learn and relearn.
And, if we're lucky, we show up to school fully immunized and in a pair of Elvis glasses.