Last week I took my son to his “test” date for a pre-K program we are applying for. I’ve done all the things a mom of a pre-preschooler should do. I researched schools, narrowed my selections down, submitted the appropriate applications, and now… it is out of my hands. Now it is on my toddler to attend the “playdate/test,” do his thing and wait for a decision. I’ve tried to put it out of my mind since I have no control over what happens next, but truthfully, I’m a nervous wreck. This school is my number one choice and I NEED this to work. I keep asking myself “what if he didn’t talk to the teacher? What if he didn’t engage? What if we don’t get in??” All of this has made me keenly aware that entering school will be a new adventure for us, and I’ll have to learn what kind of student my son will be.
As a child school and learning came naturally to me. I loved school and excelled throughout my school career. I went to the best schools and soared performance-wise. I loved school and straight A’s were the norm. I don’t remember much pressure from my Mom about school because I was intrinsically motivated to do well, which was easy enough for something that came easy. I was also an only child so I loved the social aspect of school also. My only issue was my behavior- I was a sassy, talker and had my share of disciplinary issues tied to that, but it never rattled my absolute love of school and learning.
But I knew firsthand that this wasn’t everyone’s experience with school. Growing up, my cousin and I went to school together and school was hard for her. Very hard. I have vivid memories of her having to study for hours and days for tests that I glanced at the material for. She would stress over assignments that I completed in minutes. Our parents would set aside time to review her homework but never asked about mine. Luckily, we weren’t raised to compete with each other, and I would celebrate her Cs with enthusiasm because I knew she tried her absolute best.
Fast forward to now, and I’m still an overly ambitious learner who loves school and my cousin is very successful with multiple advanced degrees. Both “types” of students turned out just fine. But now, as a parent, of a child entering school for the first time this fall, I can’t help but wonder what kind of student my son will be and what his school journey will look like. Will “school” come naturally? Will he enjoy it? Am I prepared to support him through struggles?
I spent 10 years of my professional life working in education and I know enough to know I value my child’s environment over misconstrued letter grades and overvalued test scores. But how do I know exactly what environment will work best before I know what kind of student he is? How do I decide if he will strive academically in a more rigid, structured option or a small, and less formal setting?
It’s so much to think about and I’m sure I’m overthinking it, but that’s what I do. So for the next few weeks, I will anxiously be awaiting a decision letter while I prepare for our introduction to school and wonder what kind of student my son may be.