Trusting Our Children and Ourselves
I received a letter from a legacy parent today. I wanted to share it not because she says such nice things about us (she does and it is so kind - we appreciate it it a lot of course) but because it speaks to her trust in her son, the partnerships teachers, children and parents have at our school, the strength of our community - and all of our knowledge that Owen is an engaged, compassionate and joyful learner (just what a young 5 year old should be) - no matter what someone might say at Kindergarten Orientation Day. It all could have gone very differently. She could have panicked when they called him remedial and they insisted he go to summer school. She could have inadvertently made Owen feel like there was something wrong with him and put pressure on him. But she didn't - she trusted what she knew about him, trusted him, his amazing mind, questions, inventions, ability to make friends and solve problems and didn't put all of his "Will he Succeed in Life?" cards in the "You Need to Know this Many Letters and Sounds at Age 5" basket.
I was angry with the school and the person that told Courtney and Owen that he was remedial when it happened. She was also told that there was something wrong with the preschool he was attending, so that didn't help. But, mostly angry because we know Owen. He IS amazing and it so sucked that they didn't see that or didn't want to look for it. I am so glad that his mom felt like she could come to us, that we could all process it together and think about Owen and what was best for him. So glad that in the end, as she transitioned him out of preschool and towards Kindergarten she moved passed the anger and frustration. She supported him - who he is.
This is the first time I have heard from Owen's family since the last day of school in May. We think about him a lot, and have wondered. This is his mom's email:
I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this for quite some time now. Life and everything just got in the way. And honestly, leaving the Coop was incredibly hard for me! Although Owen was only with the coop for one school year, I felt such a connection to everyone there. I still believe that there will never be a better and more inclusive learning environment than the one you guys provide there. No where else in his learning career will he receive the level of patience, understanding, and acceptance that he did in his year at the Coop. We are forever grateful to you all for setting the standard so high.
Our journey into public school with Owen was terrifying. Made even more so by staff members labeling him as “remedial” after his first encounter. What a nightmare that was for me. We shielded him, though and he still truly believes he is capable of anything (because he is!).
I had reached out to you when this came about, asking for guidance. Your response was everything I needed to hear and more. We entered last summer with a positive attitude about his “summer school” and tried to make it as fun as possible. He seemed to really enjoy going and we made sure not to take it too seriously. At the beginning of the year Owen transitioned well into K, and learned all about how this new school environment worked. I am happy to report that He is READING-all on his own! He was ready and willing and wanted to learn how these letters made sounds and words. He never needed any interventions or extra classes (like they wrongly assumed).He put that all together in his little brain better than anyone could have shoved it in there. He is inquisitive and questioning, smart, and most of all ABLE. His teacher is an amazingly wonderful and compassionate lady, and we really lucked out.
I mostly just wanted to say thank you for providing Owen the perfect platform to jump into his learning career from. I wish everyone had the opportunity to start out in a place like the Coop!
We are hoping to expand our family soon and will be writing you to get on the waiting list from birth!
Please pass along our gratitude to Jess and Joslyn and everyone else! Thanks again
I thanked her profusely - for her kind words and for trusting, supporting and advocating for her strong, sweet and smart son. I asked if I could share the letter. She responded:
Yes, please do share! Its hard to trust yourself, the process, and your child-when society is telling you the exact opposite!