The boy-child is half way through ‘A’ Levels and, all going well, this will be his last year at school.
It was the first day of the year yesterday, and he came home buzzing about the new subjects he’s taking – History and Business Studies – and about his Chemistry class. Long may it last!
My son is blessed with an interest in learning and the ability to work well within the school system. As long as he is engaged in meaningful work, he thrives and succeeds.
Yet his school “career” has been a fun-fair ride – sometimes a merry-go-round and sometimes a trip through the House of Horrors!
The boy-child practicing a dance routine he’d learned at preschool. Photo: Su Leslie 2000
His Montessori pre-school and the slightly alternative inner-city high school have definitely been the institutions in which he has best fitted and not only done his best work, but been happiest.
Always happy to mug for the camera, he became the poster boy for his first NZ nursery.
An early obsession with woodwork sadly hasn’t translated into offering to build an extension on our house. Photo: Su Leslie 2001
Montessori, with its very child-centred philosophy of readiness to learn, was a perfect environment for an obsessive child who felt compelled to work at whatever task fascinated him until he had mastered it.
Under the care of a group of wonderful Montessori teachers he learned motor skills, social skills and how to read and write. With reading, he seemed to decide one day that it was a “big boy” thing to do, so he told his teacher he wanted to learn and – well that was that really. He was not quite four at the time, and he’s never looked back.
Photo: Su Leslie 2004
His time at the local primary school was socially good and academically wasted; one or two teachers were prepared to try and extend him, most would not or could not. Consequently he got to the end of his time there with a well-established reputation as “the class clown” – forever being sent to the principal.
School play: the boy-child going for the laughs as “Mr Mayor.” Photo: Heike Gleisner-Micheel, 2007.
Three years at an old-fashioned private school were also a mixed bag; the work was challenging, but the school’s punitive culture didn’t sit well with my free spirit son – or his equally non-conformist mother!
So now we are nearing the end of an educational journey. I say “we” because it has been my journey too. Because the Big T travels so much, I’ve played the role of Educational Liaison Officer. I’ve done countless school and sports trips and camps, classroom helper, PTA, fund-raising, basketball coach and touch rugby manager – and when circumstances have demanded it, swept in like the Furies to protect my offspring.
Best friends from Junior Class. Doing their own thing now but mothers still catch up for coffee. Photo: Su Leslie 2003
I’ve also made some good friends from amongst the group of “school mums” and parents of the boy-child’s friends and treasure these friendships long after the kids have gone their own ways.
Who knows what my son will choose to do next. He has no clear tertiary course in mind, and is unsure where his love of photography and film-making will take him. But he is very young and has a lifetime to think and explore and make good decisions abouth the paths to follow. And I have faith that he will do just that.
This post was written as part of my “countdown” to my son’s 16th birthday: