It’s been awhile since my posts about Rohan and his tough kindergarten adjustment. Now he’s on the cusp of first grade and I realize it’s a good time to fill you in on how the last school year ended…and give a shout out to all you parents whose babies are starting kindergarten next week. No matter how rough it starts, things can and often will improve!
Well, the good news is that kindergarten ended far better than it began. Rohan was happier and more settled. He made friends, not the same way as his more outgoing little sister who had a definite "best friend" at the end of the year but he was friendly with all the students in his class. At his end of year party, which was pirate themed (as was his class all year long), he was beaming as he spent time with his friends and presented gifts to his teachers. Clearly he was far more comfortable and in his element than he had been in the first part of the year.
I adore the fact that he was happy to have me bring him French fries while the rest of the class ate chicken nuggets, not feeling any need to conform even though he has that choice (I am a vegetarian but his dad is not and at this point he has the option to eat in either manner…although at home we are purely vegetarian so my bias is obvious!). He prides himself in telling the others about how many animals are herbivores and of course since he wants to be a wildlife biologist, a paleontologist, a serpentologist, a marine biologist or an entomologist depending on the day or place, his love for animals is too great for him to consider them for consumption.
His teacher proved to be instructionally exceptional. She continued in that vein with the following end of the year items: a sealed time capsule to be opened after high school graduation, a treasure chest in which all of his books throughout the year were maintained and compiled and a gift-wrapped book to be opened only on September 1st, the day before first grade begins. She also gave each volunteer a signed framed photograph of the class and a Starbucks gift card. Comparing notes with other moms, I found that what his teacher did was specific only to his class. The challenge of a large class never went away and he ended with 26 students in his class, a fact that I find appalling. Under those circumstances, both the students and teachers coped well.
I continued my Monday morning volunteering throughout the year and it seemed to make a huge difference for Rohan (I’m really glad that my in-home baking business allows me this flexibility and I hope to volunteer again this year). It wasn't that I was there very long, but when his friends gave me hugs or hustled to sit next to me, he loved that it was his mom they were eager to be with... and I loved that I got to know the students' personalities in his class. I saw students develop handwriting skills over the course of the year and the results were astounding. The greatest change was watching students learn how to read and as the weeks turned into months, I was thrilled to see both Rohan and his friends reading signs and slogans and then books and then (unfortunately!) commercials. My son will verbatim tell me what toy will "astound and amaze" him, yes...there is a downside even to reading!
Near the end of the school year, Rohan was invited to read a book to his sister's preschool class and she was so incredibly proud of her brother. She was so excited to laugh out loud at the ending despite having heard the story several times. That was one of the most lasting memories I have of the past year. I noticed the divide between the girls and boys beginning to form as girls had parties with no boys and in my daughter's class there was a weekly playgroup for all boys. We have not resorted to gender separation yet for birthday parties; my kids still want "all" of their friends around, but it's coming...
All in all, a year that started as a challenge ended well. Rohan had a specific teacher in mind for 1st grade since she was a teacher he worked with in some after-school special topic class. He has since been assigned to that teacher so he's happy. We know he loves his bus driver and try as we may, he refuses to have us pick him up or drop him off, he looks forward to the school bus because she is structured (assigned seats on the bus, no eating, young kids in the front) and that seems to work for Rohan. So in just a few days, we'll walk him to the bus stop and wish him well as he embarks into what is now a known world and begins first grade!