It's that time of year again. The Walmart aisles are lined with crayons, scissors, and glue on sale for mere pennies (despite the fact that children in our state's schools aren't even supposed to be bringing school supplies anymore), teachers are busy readying their rooms to welcome their new little pupils, some parents are counting down the days until they can send their children back to school, and other parents are nervous and tearful over their little ones starting preschool or kindergarten for the first time.
I like back to school time. As a child, I loved the Open House our school always held a few days before school actually started -- a time to go in and see your room, meet your teachers, get your books. I would go home and read my new reading book from cover to cover before school even started. The teachers always had a bulletin board with the names of the students on it -- perhaps a construction paper crayon for each child, or a little school bus with a name on each bus. It was fun at Open House to look at those displays to see if there were any new children in the class this year, or if anyone had left over the summer.
Even as a teacher, I liked back to school time, even though it meant going back to work after a summer of freedom. Honestly, I never cared for summer break as a teacher. It was too long. I savoured the first week of it, enjoyed the second, and after that, it got to be rather dull and tedious. I spent most of it traveling to break the monotony of staying home day after day. I was totally for year-round schooling -- you get a couple weeks off each season and a month in the summer. I'd gladly have traded those extra two long months of summer for longer vacations in fall, winter and spring.
It was always fun as a teacher to look forward to a new year, starting fresh. As a speech therapist, I kept most of my kids from year to year, dismissing a few here and a few there as they corrected their problems, but the bulk of the kids I had in the spring of one year would still be mine come fall. It was still exciting to see all my old kids and see what progress they may (or may not!) have made over the summer, and I was always eager to meet all the new little preschool and kindergarten students, as I screened each one of them to determine which of them were going to need me. :)
Somehow... even in the same school, in the same room with the same materials, with mostly the same teachers and students, every year seemed like a totally fresh start. A clean slate. I loved screening and testing new kids, I loved making new schedules, I loved putting up all my little incentive charts fresh and empty for each student, and filling up the prize box with new and nifty little toys I thought the kids might work for.
I haven't worked in the school system now for five years, and quite frankly, I miss it. Especially this time of year. I love the job that I have now and whenever I contemplate returning to the school system instead, all the huge pros of this job stand out way above any pros the school job might have. The independence... the flexibility... the PAY. ;)
But I miss the older kids. I love the 3-7 year old age range and in the schools, that's the range most of my kids fell into, since by the time they're 8 or 9 I've "fixed" most of them. :) I like babies and toddlers too, but sometimes I'd love to sit down with a child who can actually work at a table, who can play card and board games, who can follow directions and cooperate!! I miss that.
But then I think about all those eaaaaarly morning risings... the bus duties... and the breakfast duties... the lunch duties... and worst of all, the RECESS duties (particularly in the winter when they're stuck indoors!)
And then I'm pretty glad to spend my days feeding babies and playing with farm animals on the floor with toddlers after all. :)