Why are teachers so hell bent on everyone getting to school on time? Also, as we recently learned, there's "on time" and there's On Time. The difference can be amazing for some kids (er... like my kid.)
At our house, morning dropoff is a finely calibrated machine. Nuvy's school has a car line between 8:00 and 8:15. Van's school, 10 minutes' drive away, has an early-drop off time of 8:30. (why so late? It's a co-op, which usually means at least one parent--or the au pair girl--is at home with the kids in the morning. Families with two early morning workdays and no nanny need not apply.)
My habit, until recently, had been to get Nuvy to school at the tail end of car line, then swing around and be the first kid to show up at Van's school. Sounds good, right? Like clockwork. Then we had parent-teacher conferences with Nuvy's teacher.
Nuvy, it seems, was very interested in socializing during morning worktime, and less interested in working. Further, she seemed a little insecure about challenging herself at school, and tended to need an audience to support her and motivate her, which disrupted the work of her friends. She had trouble finishing assignments (witness a stack of unfinished picture stories). In teacher speak, this roughly translates to, "your kid is bright and sociable, but unmotivated, and is disrupting our class." Her teacher and I discussed various strategies for motivating and supporting her, including language that demonstrated how much we value her choosing challenging work. The teacher seemed genuinely perplexed, as was I, about how this smart, engaged child could be so academically scattered.
Then I thought about her mornings. Was she eating the right foods before school? Was she adequately prepared? Was it all that TV? Then it occurred to me--she is a latecomer. Every morning she misses, not just 15 minutes of playtime in the morning, but the chance to ground herself at school before worktime begins.
I am, sadly, a habitual latecomer. I am not early for many things in life. I push deadlines, meeting times, theater curtains, everything. I often enter rooms filled with people who are already doing something when I arrive. I am used to making an entrance--being greeted by a crowd--and transitioning into whatever is already in progress. I realize now that this dynamic is not working for Nuvy. So, I have started taking her in 10-15 minutes earlier, and arriving at Van's school annoyingly early.
She is, by all accounts, a new child. She greets her friends in the morning, one by one as they arrive-- whereas before, she came in to a gaggle of children and seemed to behave in an outsized way to announce herself. This more measured approach to social life seems to be carrying through for her during the day. She is still sociable, but seems more confident at school, and more open to academic challenges.
Amazing what 15 minutes can do!!