A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back to school

It certainly feels like Fall around these parts! I love it! The air smells like wood fires, the leaves are starting to change, temperatures are dipping below zero most nights and the kids are back at school. V. started kindergarten this year and G. is in grade three. For those of you who know us, you will know that G. has always struggled with going to school and therefore so have we! It has been many years of anxiety, panic attacks and tears...for both G and me. So this summer when she said she wanted to try out the Horsefly School, we cautiously agreed she should try it, if she wants to.

We have been so pleasantly surprised by this school! It is only a ten minute drive from our house, it has 59 students this year from Kindergarten through to Grade 9 and a really great playground. That is just a start...the staff have been quite simply...incredible! I met with the principal on the first day...to let him know about some of G.'s history and her anxieties about school. He listened carefully and agreed that we should start slow and see how G. does. I stayed for a bit on the first few days, but after that...she has said that she feels fine to stay...all day! She comes home with stories all about her new friends, the cool stuff they are learning, her 'nice' teacher and 'really fun' principal. V. has been enjoying herself too! There are two other little girls in 'Kindy' and one of them looks just like her best friend from Westbank! Because we live over two kilometres from school the girls get to take a school bus...which both of said is the best part of school, which drops them off at the bottom of our driveway!

But back to the staff...everyone has been so supportive of the girls...from her teacher, to the secretary to the caretaker, everyone knows their names and greets them enthusiastically letting them know they are happy that they are there. They are both in the same class, which covers Kindergarten through grade three, and their teacher is wonderful! The kids seem to really benefit from the multi-grade level experience. The teacher remarked that the kids work at whatever level they are at...so for instance some of the grade twos are advanced in language, so they do the grade three work while some of the kids are a little slower in one area, they spend time working up from the grade level they are at.

There are two aids in the class, which helps as they can take the Kindy's to the kindergarten classroom when the older kids are doing seatwork etc. Mrs. E. as the kids call her has really encouraged G., sensing that she likes to help out with the younger kids, she assigned her to be a buddy to a grade one little girl, to help with tying shoes, etc. She also awarded G. a "Bear Card" for helping a kindy child pick up her pencil crayons without being asked. These Bear cards then get put in a hat and the principal picks out one lucky winner at the weekly assembly, who can either choose to get a school t-shirt or he will take them out for lunch. Guess who got picked this week? Yep, G. gets to go for lunch with Mr. G. this Friday and she is so excited!

More about the weekly assembly and Mr. G the principal...Mr. G. holds an assembly of the whole school every Monday morning and parents are welcome to attend. He goes over plans for the week etc., and highlights some of the great work students have done over the past week (e.g. a beautiful drawing one of the grade one students did, a poem a grade 4 student wrote) and of course the Bear Card draw. While doing the draw, he let us know which students weren't picked and what they had earned their Bear cards for. He also goes out in the school yard before school, at recess and during lunch to chat with students, and waits with the kids to get on the school bus. He supervises the music room after school, so that the older kids can 'jam', holds floor hockey games in the gym during lunches on Thursday and Fridays, coaches the soccer team on Monday and Wednesdays after school and the cross country team during recess and lunch.

I think the principal really sets a tone for the school and you get the feeling that they are really 'there' for the students, as opposed to the students being forced to fit into the structure of the school. I am just so thrilled with our experience of this school so far! Even if things get a little tougher for G. I feel confident that I can work with this school.

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