Leila is going into Gr. 2 this fall and for the first time to a different teacher. This piece of information provided the two of us with a number of conversations to prepare her for the realization Mme. Urso would be staying in Gr. 1 and not following her through the years.
We moved from “No, I am not looking forward to Gr. 2 and I want to stay in Gr. 1” to I can visit Mme. Urso at lunch and at recess.” A memorable conversation in this series of discussions was the conversation centred on change. When I approached the topic from what I thought would be the best and the response remained, “No I still want to stay with Mme. Urso.” I knew I had to rethink my approach. I talked about the strong foundation Mme. provided; Leila could now read in both languages and she liked math so she was prepared for Gr. 2; she knows children in all the Gr. 1 classes which means she will know all the children in Gr. 2 classes; she is more confident than when she started JK. Yes, I know – what was I thinking, not clearly, of course!
The approach changed. I asked Leila if she thought my life was different before she came to live with me. She said yes and then proceeded to ask me if that was the only change in my life? Ah, the innocence of children. We talked about what my life was like before and how when she came it turned my life around in ways I didn’t know were possible. Sometimes it was scary, sometimes I didn’t know what was coming next, and there are things I once did or planned that are no longer in my life. All that said, I asked her if she thought my life was better than before. Her response was she was the best change that ever happened in my life. And I agreed. There is no doubt that I wouldn’t change a thing now that she is here to teach me about life differently. I believe this was the conversation that helped her to begin the transition from wanting to stay in Gr. 1 for the rest of her school life to moving forward.
When the last day of school arrived Leila was helping another friend who was crying because she was leaving Mme. Urso by telling her there was no need for tears because she could visit Mme. Urso at recess. Yes, people it was I, TiTi who cried the last day of school because we were leaving Mme. Urso. Don’t underestimate the relationship you can have with your child’s teachers. They are a part of the caring circle of adults that influence your child’s life. They are a critical link to learn of how your child is when not in your care. I remain grateful to Mme. Urso, the school administration, and the rest of the staff at R.L. Beattie.
Anna Barsanti is a retired educator who is raising her niece.