By Mary Yorke Oates, Director of Admissions, Charlotte Latin School
The first few weeks of school are exciting. Throw in several religious and civic holidays and a terrifyingly large hurricane battering the coast, and we can even say that our first few weeks of school have been exciting and unpredictable—two words that few educators like to put in the same sentence. September is such an optimistic time in the life of the student and the teacher, and yet, the work of the first few weeks of school, especially for the beginning students, can be really hard. Teachers are setting up places of work, with systems, expectations, and routines. A rising first-grader, having mastered Kindergarten, might recognize many of the cues from last year as many things stay constant, but they also will be expected to take on harder tasks and more responsibility. Just last week, one of my first-grade friends, stopped me in the hall, and said, “I am really worried about the Hurricane.” I imagine she is also worried about her reading record, her new tablemates, and the long line at the Spinami on the playground. She added, “My Kindergarten teacher lives in a wooden house with big trees. Do you think she will be ok?”
My friend’s fear was real and heartfelt, and goodness knows, when the lights flickered and the winds kicked up at school, we all trembled. What fascinated me though, was her loyalty to the past. She had spent 10 months with her Kindergarten teacher and 20 days with her first-grade teacher. I know she likes her new digs and smiles when she is with her new teacher and classmates, but it illustrated to me, how children cling to the predictable.
The more stops and starts we add to the school calendar, the harder it is for teachers to establish a blueprint for routine and help the children develop the stamina it takes to thrive–not just survive the school day. I often hear parents say their children are used to long days; they have been in child care and regularly do enriching activities like swim lessons, karate, music and dance. And while we are busier today than ever, school is different.
At Latin, our Kindergarten students are learning how to “do school.” Our area pre-schools have done a great job sending us students ready to tackle school, and we embrace teaching our young children the skills it takes to become a productive, happy community member and student. Our approach is holistic as we tackle everything from being a successful team member, a resilient problem solver, a fit and nimble academician, and a kind, compassionate friend. In no particular order. It all matters.
So, what can parents do at home to ensure a successful start to school? Intentionally keep things simple as these school days are gloriously exciting with much stimulation. Establish routines and recognize that our children (whatever the grade) have not truly developed “school stamina” just yet. It will take them a while to absorb the whole group lesson, transition to the reinforcing work, switch gears to prepare for a subject change, file their work in the finished box or the still working box, respond to the cues to move on, and remember where they put their supplies. (And that is just the morning work!) The goal is that all this becomes automatic. The good news? It will be, and it will be so much easier for them if at home you make sure they rest, you expect them to manage a few things, and you, like school, keep things predictable. Because before you know it October will be here complete with Halloween, costume changes, and lots of candy…just to keep things interesting!
Charlotte Latin Admission Events
Join us for an Open House and learn more about Latin. Register today!
TK & Kindergarten
October 5, 2018
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Upper School: Grades 9–12
October 12, 2018
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Join us for Look@Latin presentations. These are small groups that take a closer look at Life@Latin. Learn more about Look@Latin and register for an event.
November 5, 2018
10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Lower School Curriculum & Extended Day
November 17, 2018
10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Upper School Life + Arts
February 7, 2019
Upper School Life + Athletics
March 9, 2019
Charlotte Latin School
9502 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC 28277a
Admissions Office: 704-846-7207