Yesterday was our first official day back in the school groove. All things considered, it went pretty well. Some children (names will not be mentioned to protect the not-entirely-innocent) had a little bit of trouble with having more structure, and needing to focus and concentrate, but I think they, too, will get in the swing of things before long. The ironic thing is that one of these children was also one of the ones most loudly proclaiming that they wanted school to start. We'll go with on some level they know they need structure, but it's hard to accept that structure, because they need structure. If that makes any sense at all... which I'm not entirely sure it does.
The schedule I created looks as though it is going to be workable, and we managed to get through everything. Always a plus to not be behind on your first day back. This year for the first time, due in a large part to the number of high school students I currently have, I have school time going past lunch. This is to give me time to work with the younger group all morning, but still allow time for me to do some more significant work with the high school students in the early afternoon. Before, this kind of just happened, but with three of them, I just couldn't be sure that our more organic and free-form way of doing things was going to be realistic.
I have made up for the extra school time in my own schedule by adding in some 'just me' time afterwards. This year, for one hour each day, I have scheduled in (and thus given myself permission) one hour to spend in the studio, doing... whatever. Today I cut a few more quilt squares with some scraps I found, and carded some wool to get ready to spin it. Having this studio, where I can leave things like this out, and also have everything in one place, is feeling like a real luxury. And giving myself an hour to just play, is, I think, going to go a long way towards me keeping my sanity and helping me be a pleasant person. Because if it is on the schedule, I have to do it, right? Whether or not the laundry or the kitchen or the bills or whatever, need my attention.
There were also a few real successes during school yesterday morning. First, H. is becoming a really good reader. We have been working for a long, long time on comprehension and fluency, and I think all the hard is work is starting to pay off. I was really impressed with what she read for me, and she was also able to answer my questions about it. This felt like a pretty big win.
Want to guess who else had a pretty amazing day? It was R.! I bet you weren't expecting me to name that particular child. I'm a little surprised myself. She was engaged for the whole morning (no disassociation), and when asked to do something did not shriek. (Hallelujah!) She also did a couple of things I have never seen her do before. One of her boxes to work on yesterday morning was a box of domino-style blocks that I was having her stand up to then knock over. You know, like you do with dominos. Last year, the most she could stand up were three blocks before something would happen and she would accidentally knock them down. It was just a really difficult activity for her. But yesterday, she managed to stand up 7 or 8 of them, and then knocked them down herself on purpose. I was pretty impressed and surprised. It is a new level of find motor skills that I haven't seen before.
But wait, there's more! After R. lined up and knocked down the dominos, I saw her do something I have never seen her do before. She took the blocks and did something on her own. She made a design with them, even though I never asked her to, nor did I make one for her to copy from. She did it on her own, out of her own head. To me, this is gold. It is one of the first examples that we've had of volition and evidence of creative and unique thought. I was pretty excited. She wanted me to take a picture so we could show Daddy, and I was happy to oblige. Here, you can see it, too.
I know it doesn't look like much, but what it represents is pretty significant. No one else was playing with blocks of any kind. There was nothing and no one to copy from. I didn't tell her to make a design with the blocks. It was her own idea which she then carried out. Honestly, it is probably one of the most hopeful pictures I have ever seen.
I have a new article published: 8 Ways to Prepare for a Future Adoption