We're embarking upon a big week this week--the first full week of school for the kids. Already we've had two positive e-mails from L.'s school--just teachers checking in to thank us for the letter we wrote on L.'s behalf, and letting us know how to reach them. We're so pleased that they have reached out to us, and very happy with the level of communication from the school so far. These are all positive things that are helping fuel the beginning of the school year. I try not to attack L. with too many questions when I pick him up after school, but he's been talkative, and more or less willing to share his thoughts about the day.
Here is a list of 6 things L. likes (and, by extension, I like) about middle school so far:
1. Changing classes every 45 minutes. I always suspected he needed physical and mental variety to his day. Contrary to my initial worries, changing classes throughout the day like this has actually helped his focus problems. From a sensory perspective, too, moving around within a different schedule keeps him from being negatively overstimulated in any one classroom environment. He also told me that changing classes and moving around the school makes him feel "kind of like a grownup."
2. Variety in the peer group. It's not always a good thing to be stuck with the same people all day, day in and day out. We might love our peers, our classmates, our colleagues, but we need a little variety now and again and when you're stuck with a group who is not working well for you, you need the varety even more. I think having a larger peer group should help L. find a niche, hopefully, with some like-minded kids.
3. The locker and lock. Again, I was worried about both of these, but he is a whiz at opening the lock and he likes having his own, "private" locker where he can contain his things and feel good about them being off-limits from others and protected. At elementary school other kids used to pull his backpack out of his cubby all the time, or throw their own pack on top of his, or touch his things without permission--all things that really drove L. crazy.
4. His electives. I knew this would be big for L., and we picked his school over others because he's allowed three electives, instead of two. He's taking German and a very cool technology systems class that will include tons of hands-on learning and experiments in a real, live lab. We had to sign a lab release form and pay a small lab fee and everything--all things that made L. pretty proud and excited about this new class. Next quarter he's taking a global conflicts elective and he's very much looking forward to that.
5. Quieter, cleaner cafeteria. All elementary school cafeterias are pretty noisy, and can be pretty smelly, too, but L.'s elementary school cafeteria took noise and smells to another level. This cafeteria at his new school is much quieter and better organized. Maybe middle school kids aren't as loud? Maybe they eat more neatly? Is it possible?
6. No recess. Thank goodness. Recess was always a big trouble time for L. He had trouble navigating the social landscape of the school playground, kids played too rough, kids got too physical, and recess was a huge stressor for him. I am so thrilled that it's out of the equation, strange though that may sound.
Academics and homework will be in full swing this week, so we'll see hope L. adjusts to that. My fingers are still crossed that will continue to ride on the positive glow from the first two days of school.