As today is Ari’s last day of school, it is only fitting that today I reflect upon this extraordinary school year.
Ari immediately loved her first grade teacher. I remember the day I walked away from the school, only to find myself in tears because I worried about Ari’s first day at a new school with a new teacher. When I met Ari at the end of that first school day and asked her how it went, she gave a thumbs up. From that point on, things went smoothly all year.
Her first grade teacher was amazing. Over this academic year, we’ve e-mailed each other about Ari’s academic progress and spoke on the phone, as well as in person. When Ari stressed out about timed math tests, her teacher and I worked together as a team to alleviate my daughter’s stress. And it worked! A sensitive girl, Ari also had confidence problems with reading at a certain level, so her teacher and I worked hard to ensure that my daughter was comfortable and succeeded.
In fact, Ari succeeded in ways I couldn’t envision on the first day of school.
During the year, Ari’s artwork was selected, along with the artwork of other students all over the district, to be on display at a local museum. A special event at the museum’s gallery celebrated Ari and the other artists. As we headed to the museum, I told Ari how proud I was of her. She said, “But mom, I don’t draw and paint as well as you.” And I responded, “My artwork was never in a museum, and you are only six and yours has already made it into a museum.” She smiled, quite proud of outdoing her mama.
And we had great fun at the gallery-opening celebration, socializing with her fellow artists and their families. And there was an awesome cake and other yummy treats!
Ari learned so many important life lessons this year. But if I had to choose the most important lesson she learned, it would be to try one’s hardest and to seize any available opportunities.
A Young Author’s Contest was announced about a month after the gallery visit, and there was a call for fiction and non-fiction stories. Each grade in each participating school would have a winner. Winning entries would be bound in a book that would be available in the schools’ libraries.
Arielle had no intention of entering the contest, as she perceived writing as hard work to be avoided whenever possible. I cajoled and encouraged her to enter the contest anyway, telling her, “If you don’t enter, you definitely won’t win. If you enter, you might win, but even if you don’t, at least you tried your best.” She still resisted, but with my continuous support and persuasion (OK, I was a bit of a pest), she finally relented.
She chose to write about her pet goldfish. She wrote it on attractive paper and did the illustrations for it. And then we forgot about the contest.
Until the unthinkable-to-Ari happened: She won the contest for her grade level.
As the principal announced the winners, Ari was shocked to receive applause by her teacher and peers. When I asked her what lesson she learned from this experience, Ari said, “You never know what you can do until you try your hardest. You were right, mom.” (I realize I won’t hear the words “You were right, mom” very often, so I savored this, too.)
She was bussed to a special event honoring the writers, where she learned more about writing and left with a plethora of information and writing exercises, as well as a list of more writing contests for kids. I told my daughter, “Why not enter these contests? Whether or not you win, it’s a great experience.” And Ari nodded an emphatic “yes.”
Overall, this year was a major milestone for Ari. It was heart-warming to be a part of a school that made learning fun, supported its students, and doled out positive reinforcement, while teaching students socialization skills. Last year at this time, she left the private school with her self-confidence barely intact.
This year in the new school she did more than just survive.
Do you have any great school stories to share? I would love to hear yours.
Tags: adjusting to school, art gallery, elementary school, first day of school, last day of school, school, writers contest