Back to School Observations: Social Time

Second grade, First grade and pre-K. Three of the five are back to school. Even with only one week underway the whole house feels different.

This summer seemed to unfold in two-week increments. Whether it was a trip, visits from company, swimming lessons, *nothing*, or family outings, it all seemed to happen two weeks at a time. This created a nice pace to the summer. Other than the typical ebbing and flowing of moods and fusses it was steady and overall quite a happy break from school.

Then the winds started to change mid-August. The walls of my house began to shrink and the energy levels snowballed on a daily basis. Excitement is good, but the anticipation kills. Even with a large family and so much going on at home, there is something different that school offers.

I loved school when I was growing up and I was very focused on my academics. I did not have a clear picture of what I wanted to do or be until I was a Junior in college, but I was always focused on good grades. It was not until my experience as a parent of school-aged children that I realized some of the greatest values of their educational journey were not in the academics, but in the Social Time.

The extent the children learn in reading, writing and math are astonishing to me – but with a few years under my belt I’m now seeing how crucial the social skills are too. The students are seated at grouped tables, they often work in pairs, they move in lines and function as a whole class to work through their daily tasks. Even games on the playground and chit chat at the lunchroom table teach them life skills.

We mothers work hard (so hard) to offer the world to our children at home, but school is a world where our children are with their peers and without the parents. The lessons from home are truly put to the test in that ‘real world’ they live in day to day.

My former narrower concern was that my child was being a good listener and participating in class. If you fast forward these children to adulthood you can see it’s so much more than that. For example, we all have encountered challenging people in the work place, they don’t ‘play nice in the sandbox.’ Maybe it’s because they literally didn’t play nice in the sandbox…

Academics will always be important to me and I will strive to pass that along to my children – but I also love the social growth I see and am more concerned and committed to sending good people out into the world.


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