A Parent's Perspective
BY HOPE CAITLIN WETTER, STORYTELLER/WRITER
1. What brought your son and family to The Joy School?
I wanted Patrick to stay at his current school, but my husband suggested we look at other schools that would push him out of his comfort zone for kindergarten. I didn’t think Patrick was ready, especially because our school told us that Patrick wasn’t ready. My husband toured Joy and loved it (and loved the kindergarten teacher, Miss Kate). He talked me into touring, and I fell in love with the school, too. I hate to admit it, but I kind of ‘interviewed’ Miss Kate while touring – and she rolled with it! She was so kind, understanding, experienced, reassuring, and self-confident. Everything I threw at her, she responded with an answer that required little to no thought – it was second nature to her, and I immediately felt at ease that she could handle (and educate!) my child. Of course, we did end up putting Patrick at Joy, and we never regretted the move.
2. How did The Joy School in general benefit your son?
Every single person in the entire school is there because they want to be. No one is there ‘just to receive a paycheck,’ and it’s blatantly obvious from the moment you walk in the door. With that said, every single person in the entire school knew my child by name and loved on him. When a child feels loved and cared about, they can be more fully open to learning.
The environment in general is conducive to all kinds of learning – academic, social, emotional, developmental, physical, etc. They make the curriculum fit the child, not necessarily the other way around. That is what makes the school so unique! In addition, Joy specifically teaches a child to have an awareness of self, as well as an awareness of others. What could be more important than that?!
3. How did you experience “getting your child back”?
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure we ever had our child, prior to attending Joy. Patrick was having such a hard time transitioning, speaking, interacting with other children, and self-regulating. After starting at Joy, little by little, we saw progress in each of those areas, and he became a MUCH happier child. The teachers and staff at Joy knew what he needed and knew how to best help him. As his parents, we didn’t have the experience or the tools to do that. Every day when I dropped him off, I felt a sense of relief knowing that he was in good hands (expert hands!), and that he was being supported in the best possible way.
Besides supporting my child, we as parents felt immense support. Everyone there (parents, teachers, and administrators) ‘got it.’ It was so comforting to be among others who truly understood. Although Patrick ‘graduated’ Joy after 4th grade, we are still friends with parents we met in kindergarten!
4. When were some of the times you noticed that you were “getting your child back”?
Miss Kate somehow knew how to motivate my rigid Kindergartener. She got him to do things I never thought were possible. He was being encouraged to try new things, think in different ways, and learned to embrace his gifts. Mrs. Flowers (1st grade teacher) knew how to hold Patrick accountable for his actions. If he had an outburst, she made him have a ‘do-over.’ When he spoke and acted appropriately, she showered him with love and praise. She taught me to use the phrase ‘do-over’ at home, and it worked! Teachers at Joy not only teach kids, but also the parents!
5. How did your son’s experience at The Joy School positively impact your whole family and life outside of school?
A happier, more balanced child at school meant for a happier, more balanced child at home!
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