If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably already know that Jacob was not really enjoying school that much last winter. French immersion, social isolation, a split class with a bunch of Grade 6 kids, winter…he wasn’t feeling it. So he was resisting big time in January and February, on top of the strikes that were going on.
The shutdown was like a dream come true for him. No commuting, less work, a new laptop to do everything on, no need to argue about recess activities, better lunch options. His teachers adapted and coped with what they had to work with, but there wasn’t a lot of support out there for them. The end of the year was a “thank god it’s over”-type moment.
Normally we celebrate first day of school and last day of school milestones. For the first day, Andrea takes pictures either at the bus stop or the front of the house; for the last day, we always leave early from work, go do something and then out for dinner wherever he wants.
For his first day back today, we were keeping it a bit low-key for a virtual return. Everybody else who is doing in-person is already back to school like his cousins and a bunch of his friends. Today was his first day.
As I said, I was initially trying to downplay the “bigness” of it and we told him in advance that it would be a big adjustment from going with relatively light structure and no work to suddenly 6.5h of class time, 9:00-3:30 essentially, although there are breaks in there of course. And a real full setup with the teacher actually “teaching” for a full day, as opposed to his spring options which were about 30 minutes per week of live feed and the rest by email.
My mind totally futzed on the french immersion side of things, namely that he had been doing hardly any french since March except for schoolwork, and even then, very little “active listening”. Today was a wall of full french immersion with a new teacher who talks fast.
For anyone who has learned French as an adult, or English, we know what that’s like when you haven’t spoken it in a while and suddenly WHAM, you’re back in. When I was on french training, and we had a vacation or break, it was like coming back and starting from scratch almost.
As soon as I realized he was hitting that wall, I also realized we had underplayed his return for the wrong parts. Or rather we had tried to reduce his stress levels while totally forgetting to extra-celebrate his start of Grade 6. We had already made sure to take the pictures this morning, with his commute simply being our stairs (!), but by 9:30, he had hit that linguistic wall. We rearranged our dinner plans a bit for tonight (mostly reviewing what we had already thawing in the fridge) to let him pick anywhere he wanted to go for dinner to do an “extra” celebration of his new school, new virtual life, new grade, etc. Plus we “stopped by” his desk multiple times during the day to see how he was doing.
I’ve reached out to introduce ourselves to the teachers, do a little of the dance with them on social inclusion (seeing basically if we can lay some markers for him for specific people he can do group work with), and Jacob was thrilled today to see who was in his class. He knows 8 other people from Knoxdale, and I would say at least 4 of them are people he actually likes (not always a guarantee). So he’s part of the Knoxdale Nine (my nickname for them) in this new virtual school, and he hung out with some of them after school today in the Google Meets. He REALLY enjoyed that part. Plus the English and Math which were in English.
For dinner, we celebrated his first day — and his survival! — with Lone Star as his choice. Like me, we love their fajitas. We know they HAVE more things on their menu, we’ve just never ordered many of them.
Then a game of cards, and it was crash-y time for a tired little boy. A good day and I’m glad we recovered in time to celebrate the whole day, not just the start of the day. Hard to remember normal stuff in a COVID world, but we did.
Today I choose to celebrate a milestone in full.
What choices are you making today?