Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What's Best

When my daughter was a toddler, I was friendly with a group of moms who bought into the LA scene so much. It took me a while to realize that we didn't have much in common beyond the fact that we all had babies at the same time. It went from being a great support to have women going through the same challenges of motherhood together, to feeling like I was back in high school, hanging with the snooty click. They were all so serious about getting their babies into the best preschools. They had clear ideas of what they wanted for their children and what was the "best." I eventually came to my senses that this group was not for me, but I learned that this city feeds off of impressionable people. If you are in the market for a preschool in this town, there are books, coaches and classes that make you feel like if you don't choose well, your child might not get into college one day.

That experience made me so frustrated. I was determined to find a reasonably priced, clean, fun preschool that didn't have a curriculum that included Singaporean math for my then three year old. I decided that I loved play based Waldorf, Reggio styles, and so I set off on a mission. I found a great place and started her a few days a week in the summer just to get a feel of the school. During week two, the school announced they were moving and my whole plan collapsed. I had to find a plan B, and quickly. I ultimately chose a pretty low frills preschool, that wasn't defined by any one style. It was reasonably priced and set in a beautiful park near my house. Convenience wins, every time for me. It wasn't at all what I had planned on but it ended up being wonderful.

When it came time to plan for Kindergarten, I once again had an idea of what style of school I wanted to send her to. The only problem though is that my plan didn't match her. I wanted her to play, sing songs, and sit in a circle. She loved letters and begged me to teach her how to read when she was four. She was eager to learn in a more academically driven environment and I had to let go of what I wanted. My idea wasn't a fit for who she was at the time. Time and time again I need to be reminded of this as a parent.

Last year, at the end of first grade for my son, I learned that one of my daughter's favorite teacher was moving into teaching a second grade class. I loved this teacher because she was outside-the-box, and had a unique way of teaching. We are not allowed to make requests to the principal, but I couldn't help myself and I begged. She had explained that the classes had been made already, but she assured me I would be happy with who he got. I assumed she placed him with the other second grade teacher that was a bit more eccentric and had her won style. I was hoping for someone who tailored their teaching to each individual style. When I finally saw who he did get, I was so upset. The teacher was a nice person, but she didn't fit any of these alternative styles. At that point we had to accept what he had and hope for the best.  By the end of the first day of school, I saw a change in my son. He had gone off to school scared and crying, but came home so content and happy about his new teacher. I was once again wrong about what I thought my kids needed. His current teacher is exactly the right fit for him. She is calm, gentle, kind and patient. She is also solid, clear and a fantastic teacher. She provides the right balance of structure and silliness. The class listens and respects her and she listens and respects the class. I have been so pleasantly surprised at how well this year is going for my son. He is excited to go to school each day. I love that I was so wrong about what I thought was best for him.

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