Thursday, June 08, 2006

End-of-school-year Nostalgia, Part I

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It was just one year ago that we decided to give up on public education. After a very frustrating first grade year in our public school we decided to send Mr. Smartypants and his little brother to a private school for gifted children. You can read a bit about it here.

When I asked Smartypants to rate his school year on a scale from 1-10, with ten being the best, he said he'd give it a nine, no, make that ten. He told me he was glad that his first grade experience was so bad, because that is what got him to his new school. And he really loves his new school.

And as for six year-old Splinter. Well, his kindergarten teacher has the appearance of a friendly grandma, but the energy of a toddler. I don't know how she does it. She is a lifelong learner and is always asking questions that get her students thinking. She once told me that every year she worries that she sets her expectations too high, but every year her students exceed them. (Low expectations are a big problem in many public schools…can you say No Child Left Behind?)

Splinter's full-day kindergarten program was so much richer, fuller, and more academically advanced than even Smartypants' first grade experience. Unlike Smartypants, a self-taught reader around age 4, Splinter went to school ready to read, but reluctant to do so. This boy, who was not even willing to sound out words last August, recently requested that we check out the entire Magic Tree House series on our last trip to the library, and is rapdily working his way through them.

I have tremendous gratitude for everything the boys have been given this year. Today is Smartypants' class picnic, Splinters' end-of-year ceremony, and 8th grade graduation. I think I'll have to carry a big wad of Kleenex with me.

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