I have been hesitant to blog about this because I did not want to curse our good fortune or have anyone think I am bashing last year's school (which I am not), but I am throwing caution to the wind and saying it loud and proud, E1 is an entirely new child (and for the better).
I credit our switching schools for this marvelous change. 6 months ago, I was heavily considering homeschooling E1 due to what can only be described as terrible social anxiety. My warm, tender-heart of a child was lonely in school, constantly looking for friends, wanting desperately to belong and it never happened. To watch your child crumble each week as she tells you a school story is heart wrenching.
With much trepidation, we enrolled our so called introvert into public school. She would go from 20 children in the grade to 20 children in her class and a grade with seven classrooms. That's a shit ton of kids.
E1, the introvert, the child I thought had social anxiety does not exist. Do not get me wrong, I think on some level she will always be an introvert, but now - wow, she has learned to navigate her world in just 6 weeks.
In our parent teacher conference, E1 was described as confident, a leader, friendly, someone the students like to be around....Excuse me??? MY kid? She has a huge group of friends - girls and boys, is never alone on the playground, has good conflict resolution skills, and in the words of her teacher, "she is doing great."
E1 rides the school bus and loves it. She enjoys finding people to sit with, sitting in the middle, sitting on the end, sitting with a new friend, etc. The bus causes so much angst for some that I laugh hearing E1 say it is the one of the best parts of her day.
E1 rides her bike to friends' homes. Friends that live in our neighborhood, that are in her class, or just some other first grader she met on the playground.
E1 meets her friends at the bus stop to exchange homework sheets and/or books if someone forgot theirs at school.
E1 makes play dates with people while on the bus, in class, or at lunch.
E1 waves hi to people at the grocery store. E1 waves hi to people at gymnastics, at tennis, at dance. No matter where we are, the child that shied away is now out there talking to people, making friends, being confident.
I do not know if it is just public school or if it is the combination of her finally being a part of community, but whatever "it" is, IT has done wonders for my child.
I look back on last year and literally cry remembering how she said she was happy and did not want to leave the school. Fast forward to this past weekend when out of no where she gave me a huge hug and thanked me for switching her school.
Her exact words, "Mom, thanks for sending me to (school's name). I get it now. I understand. I have friends. I am happy."
I am in love with our new normal. I love that we, as her parents, did not pigeon hole her and tried something new.
I am the MOST IN LOVE with the brave seven year old who trusted us to make the right decision for her and jumped into a new situation with her warm heart and big smile and finally got what she was looking for: acceptance.