Wednesday, February 25, 2009

school is cool

sabin goes to a lovely old public school in the center of town. it's right across from the church and is comprised of solid old brick buildings. we like it a lot. her teacher, i've mentioned before, is a former long-time stewardess with SAS and rules the class of 20 second graders with the sure hand of a business class purser. they respect and like her very much.

the school has a general philosophy of working hard on socializing the children--no picking on the weak ones, speaking up if you're being picked on, doing activities that mix the kids up so they play with everyone and not just their best friends. it seems to work. on saturday, we observed sabin's best friend's class (he goes to a different school) and we could see a big difference--sabin's class is much more cohesive. a good teacher really matters and we are lucky sabin has that. the way it works here is that linda will follow the class all through their indskoling (in-schooling?) period, which i believe means through the third grade, so sabin has her at least one more year. it can be that she will follow them through the seventh grade, but that will be evaluated next year some time.

one of the very cool things about her class and her school is the outings they take. today, the class is going to copenhagen to a performance of fyrtøjet (the tinderbox)--a ballet based on a h.c. andersen story and with scenography and costumes by the danish queen. how cool is that? there are a few kids in sabin's class that i don't think would otherwise ever go to the royal theatre or see a performance that the queen was involved in. what a great experience and it's due to the initiative of sabin's teacher! we're really fortunate and happy that sabin has such a great teacher.

when sabin started kindergarden there was quite a lot of talk about resourcestærke forældre--parents strong in resources. that phrase has haunted me a little bit ever since i read it in a newsletter from the school. at first, i thought it was a rather cheeky comment about how much money people had, but it's not. it's more about how much energy you put into parenting. do you make a healthy, nutritious, exciting lunchbox for your child? does your child have the right books and her indoor shoes with her every day? does she do her homework? is her hair brushed? her teeth? are her clothes clean? does she have mittens with her? are her pencils sharpened? do her pens work? does she have those nice faber-castell colored pencils with the little bumplies on the side for a good grip? did she do her homework? does she get to school on time? do you spend hours and hours making her a fairy costume for the school play (and will you ever finish it)? do you make sure the child has good experiences that give her something to talk about when it's time to share what you did on your summer vacation? do you go to the pool with her on the weekend? do you read together? does she have a computer? a phone? a Wii? a DS? does she have all the accoutrements that it takes to be 8 years old and give you a feeling of belonging in today's world?

and i worry a bit about whether we're really very good at all of these things. her costume is half-finished and yes, she has the right stuff. her clothes are clean and she doesn't often have holes in her tights. husband is great at the homework side of things and making sure her bag contains the right books and sharpened pencils. he's steady at the lunch "packse," but she complains that his lunches are boring. because it gets boring and tough to come up with something exciting day in and day out. i stand there before it and admit it gets a little old, but it's something you simply have to find the energy for. and it's easier to find that energy when you know that the child loves school, has good friends and a good teacher.

so i think about finding that energy to be resourcestærke forældre and wonder if the goodness of school comes because we ARE that or if we are that because we think the school is good. which comes first? it's a circle, feeding itself, in a way.

and i do manage to get her to school on time, tho' very often i'm still in my pajamas when i run her over there. one day, i noticed that her reading book was lying on the stairs and i ran it over. i laughed to linda that i had to bring it over because we so wanted to be resourcestærke forældre. thankfully, linda assured me that we are. but i think it's something you have to work at constantly and the phrase itself really intimidates me. i'm just so insecure sometimes.


Amanda said...

I loved, loved this post! Teachers really do make all the difference. I wish ours looped with the kids, but the don't...yet. How could such a wonderful person mot be a wonderful parent?

Just Jules said...

Let me reassure you - after working in an elementary school and now volunteering weekly - the thing I have learned is that the parents that care are not the parents/students you worry about. The parents that are involved usually have students that are, which is why I am sure the school has this policy.

There are many students whose parents barely recognize the fact that their child attends school - that is until they don't know something - something usually that the parent should be teaching ....

The fact that you care if you are doing a good enough job shows that you are.

Relyn Lawson said...

Oh, I love this post. It is nice, nice, nice to read good things about schools. So much of what we hear is negative. You are very blessed to have a wonderful teacher for your child. I am in awe of the chance to go to a play and see the Queen. Oh my.

resourcestærke forældre I love this phrase. I wish I could ask for more of it. In fact, I wish I could just copy your post onto my weekly newsletter. Oh, Momma J, I can tell you that you are doing a fabulous job as a resourcestærke forældre. It's the parents who are concerned about it who are doing it. Every time.

Bee said...

Really fascinating to read about your school system and what is thought to be good parenting practice . . . although I'm guessing that Americans and Brits would come up with a similar list. (I can't speak to any other culture.) Reading through your list reminds a person why parenting can be so exhausting . . . and your list didn't even include INTERESTED and ENGAGED listening -- which is sometimes the most trying bit. (Sometimes I just want to be alone with my thoughts - particularly during the school run.) My oldest is nearly 15; no wonder I'm starting to feel really, really tired.

Tess Kincaid said...

This photo is amazing!!