Thursday, September 06, 2012

Starting high school.

I lay awake for a long time the other night.

Next year is going to be a big one for us. There is a good chance we'll have to move at some point and all of that (the how and where) is still very much up in the air. Then again, I always think we're going to move 'next year' and for the past couple of years, that hasn't eventuated. So, moving wasn't keeping me awake.

Ari is starting kindergarten next year. The Grumpy Old Man and I realised he has never been anywhere without us or one or more of the boys. Erik and Lukas never went to kindergarten. Bryn went, but he'd already spent a year at creche (three hours, once a week) with our friend Jayne and her daughter. So, he had a smooth transition away from the family and out into the wider world. For Ari, kinder will be his first experience of being 'out there' on his own. I'm sure that won't be a smooth transition, but I'm also sure we will manage to navigate it quite well. So, Ari starting kindergarten wasn't keeping me awake.

Yesterday I finally heard that all the paperwork for my PhD application has been received by Deakin and my application will now begin being processed. Getting into this degree is not a given. In fact, now that I've submitted my application I'm not at all sure it will be accepted. However, if it is, there is no doubt next year will be a busy year for me. Next year, and the two years after that will be crazy if I get into this degree! That was not what kept me awake the other night.

The thing that kept me awake was Erik starting high school.


We love the high school he is going to. Their education philosophy is very much in line with our own. He will have a mentor of his choice from any of the school staff. He will have a negotiated homework schedule based on his needs and the needs of our family. He will be encouraged to pursue his talent in art. The range of electives he can choose from is large and varied, including computer game design, animal care through local zoos, and a school TV station! There are tutors available from all over the country via the net until 10pm most nights, so if there is a work we can't help him with, he can contact a tutor from home. It's just fantastic!

We're very excited about him being offered a place there.

However, now that the excitement has worn off a bit, I feel anxious. It took Erik five years to establish himself at primary school and to makes some good friends. He won't know anyone at this new high school. Sending him to the local high school wouldn't have improved those odds much as all his friends are going to different high schools, but still, there would be familiar faces.

He'll have to take two buses to school - he did that when he was ten, so that's not new.

Maybe it's just that we - the GOM and I - will have to get to know a new set of staff and new expectations. Also, the high school isn't just up the street like our primary school has been for the past two and a half years, so I guess we won't be up there nearly as often (besides, high school kids don't like mum or dad hanging out at the school gate, apparently).

Maybe it's just because he's growing up - going out into the world and with the start of high school that process will suddenly accelerate. I'm not resistant to the idea of him growing up - I really enjoy his company now that he has his own ideas about the world and can communicate them quite well. It's just that now he'll be at high school, I can see the time when he'll have friends we don't know, and go places we don't know, and eventually have a life we can only be part of by his invitation and well, that's going to be an adjustment.

He is so happy with his group of friends and his status at school this year, and all of that is set to change next year. I think he'll still stay in contact with his primary school friends, but he won't see them as often, and he won't be familiar with everyone at school. He'll have to re-establish himself in a new culture.

I'm very thankful that the high school is about the same size as his primary school - the two local public high schools are each two and a half times the size of our primary school. So, at least there is a good chance he'll get to know most people fairly quickly and find his place at this high school.

I'm probably just projecting from my own high school experience, which followed on from a complicated primary school experience. His primary school experience has already been far better than my own. He navigates friendships better than I ever did and has more self-confidence than I had at his age, so hopefully that will all set him up for a better high school experience as well.

I did eventually get to sleep.

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Good Job!