The end of another school year is here. This particular end marks not just the end of my educational career, but also the end of my daughter’s first-grade year. The end of her first year in public school after having been in Montessori for three years. The end of a year that was all about firsts, unknowns, and new routines.
I will be honest. I am thrilled that this year is coming to an end. It was a hard year. It was probably harder on me than it was on her…but still. I watched my daughter go this year from being confident to questioning every single thing she did. I watched her become anxious and stressed about the smallest, most inconsequential details. I watched her behavior nose dive into an abyss of attention seeking, chattiness, and — let’s be honest — bossiness.
She is a chatty and curious child. She has taken to heart my encouragement of “thinking” so much so that she feels like she has to have the last word on just about everything to demonstrate said thinking. She is clever enough to reason with the best of them, and just “has” to share her perspective. Which are all great qualities, when used correctly. But in a public school setting where even the best teacher is pressed for time and short on patience when the same child is chatting, blurting, and interrupting over and over again… It does not go over well.
Just over a month ago I had a realization. She could not end the school year this way. She needed to know she had the power to make a positive change. That she had the potential to end the school year on a good note. She has the ability to make better choices. With 39 days left, it was time to put a structure in place to help her end the school year in such a way that when it comes time for second grade to roll around in August, she knows she CAN do it.
39 days does not seem like a lot of time. Just over a month. But in the life of an almost eight-year-old child, 39 days is a very long time.
And in that month? She has turned things around. Was she a model citizen every single day? No. Did she blurt out occasionally or find ways to work around the behavior chart and plan that was put in place? Yes. But did she realize she has the ability, the potential, and the power to be a more responsible student? Absolutely.
Which is really all I could ever ask. I do not expect my daughter to achieve at the highest levels in every single thing or even to be at the top of her class. But I do expect her to love learning and love school. Which she can do more easily if she feels good about herself as a student.
In the end it boils down to one simple thing: Feeling good enough about ourselves so that our mind and body can focus on whatever it needs to do to be successful in whatever we are doing. If we feel insecure or less than, we will not rise to the occasion and show the world what we are made of.
For now, she will end the school feeling strong, feeling good, feeling like she is in control of her own actions.