Stefan had his last day at kindy yesterday. It was both an exhilarating and sad day for me. I have always said that I love watching my babies grow. I love every new stage in their development and lives. I love the people they are becoming, so I am not really sad when they reach their milestones [as many other mums are with their babies]. I’m excited and proud. In fact I have been so excited about Stefan finishing kindy and embarking on his school career that I was taken aback when I found myself feeling quite sentimental about his last day. I wrote in a card to his teacher to thank her and it made me cry… just a little bit. Because it’s not just Stefan’s last day at kindy, but mine too. As I walked him out after his farewell presentation, it struck me that I would not return to this amazing place. This world of wonder and discovery and friendships and nurture. This world that helped shape my two boys.
There is a quote by Carl Jung on teachers that sums up how I feel, which I wrote in my card:
"An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."
I’m fussy about where my kids spend their time and who they spend it with. I am fortunate that my personal circumstances have allowed me to spend their formative years with them as a full-time, stay at home mum and I am grateful that I have not been forced to put them into childcare due to financial and/or marital struggles. I know there are lots of mums who have also chosen childcare for their kids and that’s ok with me too. It’s just not the way I roll. So, other than a brief stint at Montessori, the teachers at kindy were the first non-family people that I have entrusted my sons to… which was a bit difficult. When young children are left with other people they learn, not only what they are taught, but what they observe. What they hear. What they absorb from those people and from that environment. So I’m fussy about the environments that I leave my kids in and I will forever be thankful for our kindy experience.
Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, my sons adjusted immediately to their new environment. Their friendships with other children there were observed and encouraged so that Nathan’s closest friends 3 years later are the ones he met at kindy. These relationships were considered so important that they make up part of their kindy ‘report card’. Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, I learned that Stefan leads with his left leg when he hops and that he enjoys all ball sports. The fact that he is ‘fit and agile’ is as important on his report as his ‘ability to write his own name’ and ‘precise cutting with scissors’. They let him know that everything he learns is important – not just the academic stuff.
Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, Stefan knows that it’s ok to choose an activity less popular than the majority vote and is congratulated for his independent thinking. So he feels confident to stand apart from the crowd. Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, I felt supported in my decision to allow Nathan to start school earlier than he should have, based on their insight into his academic and emotional maturity that I would not have learned about him so quickly. Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, I have learned that, even away from mum’s watchful eye, my sons are kind, respectful, funny, confident, smart, creative, fit, capable and ready for what the world has in store in them.
I take my job as a mum seriously and I have the greatest respect for the teachers at kindy who do too. I take my hat off to everyone who touched my children’s hearts during the beginning of their educational journey.
I couldn’t have prepared them better myself.