Best School Ever

Sweet Boy is in kindergarten!

It doesn’t seem like a huge change to me. He’s been at the same school for the past two years doing full-day preschool with before- and after-care, so he’s felt like a school-kid for quite a while now.

But this year does mean a new teacher, a new classroom, and a new level of learning — full-day kindergarten just became mandatory this year, so I guess this is the “real thing.”

The afternoon before classes began, we dropped by the school to check out his room, meet the teacher and otherwise prep for a new year. And I got yet another reason to brag about the amazing learning environment we enjoy in the Pacific University Early Learning Community.

First, we were greeted by his teacher: This is her first full-time teaching position, though she ran the kinder class last year after the primary teacher went on maternity leave. I’d never met her, and she’d only interacted with Sweet Boy in passing.

Still, she greeted him on sight, by name.

She introduced herself to me and my husband, but her focus was on her student.

“I heard you really like numbers and you’re really good at math,” she said.

She knew our son’s interests and abilities already. The teachers had collaborated before school began, and she’d already learned a little about her students.

“Yeah,” he said. “I heard we’re going to learn to read this year. I don’t like that so much.”

(I’m not thrilled with this attitude, but not surprised. As much as he likes writing, reading takes work and he’s resisted trying.)

“Oh, but did you know that you can use numbers to read?” the teacher asked.

“What?!” His mind was blown.

And the conversation continued a bit, as she set him up to be more excited about the coming year.

So let’s recap:

  • First-time teacher.
  • Incredibly decorated/prepared classroom.
  • Already knows her students on sight, by name.
  • Has collaborated with previous teachers to learn about students’ strengths and interests.
  • Before classes begin, has strategies in place to differentiate learning for those students.

I am in awe.

Add that to everything else we love about the ELC:

  • Incredibly caring staff.
  • Small class sizes and high adult-to-student ratio.
  • Play-based learning.
  • Natural materials.
  • Outside time every day.
  • Respect for children’s natural development (including rough-housing, etc.)

I never intended to seek out private education for my children; I’ve always believed in public education. But as we transitioned from preschool to kindergarten, we knew we wanted to stay at the ELC because of the amazing environment and people. And that decision is reinforced by experiences like this. Every. Single. Day.

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