Kindergarten and third grade are officially over. It’s been a great year. How do you know if a school year has been successful? Do you determine its worth by report card grades ? By teacher communication? By school events? With each passing school year, I’ve come to realize the year’s worth is determined by my child’s emotional growth. While I’m a firm believer in academic growth and I fully appreciate its importance, my children in particular cannot learn if they are not emotionally safe.
Penelope started a new school this year. Her third elementary in four years- sigh. We did not initiate this most recent change; we were rezoned. With more anxiety than a nine year old should have, Penelope attended a new school. Then Harvey happened and that did not help the transition. Upon returning, I spoke to her teachers. I explained that all I wanted was for Penelope to laugh and smile again- she had lost that silliness in second grade and I was determined to fight like hell for her to get it back.
And she did. With supportive teachers and great girl friends, Penelope was smiling by Halloween and was so silly by Valentine’s Day I wondered if it could all be too good to be true. It wasn’t. The year progressed with minor bumps, mainly due to Penelope’s lack of work ethic, but anything was better than the anger, frustration, and sadness from the year before. Third grade wasn’t awesome because she learned multiplication or about historical figures. Her amazing report cards meant nothing to us because we learned last year, straight As suck if you’re miserable. So this year we focused on happiness and work ethic. I emailed her teachers, they helped to guide her, and in May as the year wrapped up, we all remember third grade was a GREAT year- it was the year Penelope got her laugh back.
Pandora’s year was nothing short of a miracle. Blessed with the most incredible teacher, she grew exponentially. The year of Pandora. I’m beyond proud of her academic growth; it’s remarkable. But I’m blown away by her social and emotional growth more. Pandora started the year quiet, reserved, shy, timid…by December she was coming out of her shell and by May she was unrecognizable. Loud, laughing, silly, a little bossy…who was this child!!? She was mine alright, but not the girl she was in August. Pandora’s comfort level in school was huge. She went from barely being able to get on the bus successfully to navigating the entire building. She became the version of herself we all knew was inside her. Kindergarten was a GREAT year.
When you have a great year, who do you tell? Your friends, your family, your neighbors. Did you ever tell the teacher? And I don’t mean a generic thank you card with your $20 Visa card inside that you signed ten seconds before your kid jumped out of the car. Did you ever stop to write an actual thank you note or email? Did you ever after a job well done send a thank you? I have. And they mean far more than an actual present. Tell that teacher thank you for handling the “situation” this week so well. Tell the teacher thank you for being dedicated to your student and their learning. Tell that teacher thank you for going the extra mile.
Teaching is a thankless job. Schools only hear from parents when something’s wrong. If you had a great year and how you determine it’s greatness is your choice, email your teacher and tell them. All they truly want to know is they made a difference and your words could mean the world to them.
Thank you again to Penelope and Pandora’s teachers. For the gazillionth time- we had a wonderful year because of YOU.