|A snowy morning drop-off, the Wald Kindergarten is just to the right, in the forest.|
We had our first Elterngespräch (parent-teacher meeting) with Edwin's teacher from the Wald Kindergarten (forest kindergarten) this week. The teachers at the kindergarten are really wonderful, they are warm and friendly, and enthusiastic about their work. It was a really nice opportunity to sit down and hear how they feel Edwin is doing 3 months in. Especially in a situation like ours, new country, new language, new people and new environment, I was eager to hear more in depth about how things were going.
The first three weeks of kindergarten were particularly hard. It started out well, Edwin loved being outdoors all morning and he was excited about the new experience. He had been in daycare in Montreal so I wasn't too concerned that the separation would be an issue—it never was there. This time, however, was a different story. After a couple of days of me staying at the kindergarten and then leaving for an hour or two he started to get upset. He realized that this was going to happen everyday, and saying goodbye to me was not something he wanted to do. Of course, I understood. And, having the flexibility in my schedule, I ended up staying at kindergarten with him for 3 weeks. It was pretty intense. The most difficult part however was the fight every morning to get him out the door. As soon as he realized were going to kindergarten it was an uphill battle. I know this is not unusual, but it made me feel really awful. I would bike uphill the whole way to kindergarten, towing him in the trailer, listening to him cry and yell, "I don't want to go to kindergarten!! I want to go home!!". What was I doing to my child? He didn't need to go to kindergarten, he could stay home with me, we could make it work. Was he not ready for this yet? Was the new language too much? Was he too young? Was I being selfish wanting to get some work done in the mornings? I know these feelings of guilt are also not unusual for parents to feel. However, amplified by the fact that we'd moved him half way around the world and stuck him into a new situation that he never wanted or asked for, those bike rides to kindergarten every morning were just brutal.
|Eddie's favourite day of the week is Friday, because it's Werkzeugtag (Tools Day)!|
Fast forward to today. Edwin, dare I say, looks forward to kindergarten. He has come out on the other side of the struggle and found his place among the other 19 children. He is understanding more German, speaking more German and making friends. He is absolutely thriving in his new environment, and that makes me sooooooo happy. His teachers describe him as friendly and caring, energetic, curious, open, flexible, and funny! These are all things we know him to be at home too, and the fact that he can be so open and his true self in a situation that could have caused him to turn inward, is a real testament to his spirit and the innate resiliency and adaptability of children.
I was listening to an interview on the CBC the other day about the benefits of "free range" parenting. Something that really struck me was when the interviewee (a self-described "free-range" parent) said, "Learning happens on the edge of understanding." I thought about that statement for a long time. The struggle that Edwin went through, and that all kids go through, when beginning something new and beyond their understanding is an opportunity for them to learn. As parents it's our job to support our children in these new situations—but not to rob them of the opportunity to struggle, grow and learn—as they come to understand something that was once unknown to them.