Reflecting Back on this School Year

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Eva Amurri reflects back on this school year

The end of the school year brings so many emotions for me. Whether it’s riding the crazy-busy wave of those last few weeks of school, or processing the many feelings that your kids “moving up” in the school ladder may bring, this time of year always serves as a natural benchmark for how far the kids have come in a short year. And how far we’ve come as a family!

I don’t know about you, but this month always feels like “MayCEMBER” to me! The many school events and reminders, the ordering of supplies for the year ahead, the gifts and cards for teachers, the excitement in the air as the kids get closer and closer to the summer break. Spring is the time of year I look forward to, and yet we get here and I feel instantly overwhelmed! And I know I’m not the only one. It normally helps me to really sit with gratitude for everything that has happened during the school year. The lessons, both good and bad, that each of my kids have learned.

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This year was FULL of growth for both Marlowe and Major. Marlowe went into 3rd grade with a lot of anxiety about what the year was going to be like…and she completely crushed it! She worked so hard and got back up to grade level in both reading and math. And, she even began to love to read! Both she and Major will read in their beds at night and in the morning. As a Mom who grew up as such a bookworm, it really warms my heart to watch her finally fall in love with reading and to actually enjoy the stories instead of struggling through them. She also discovered her love of art this year! One of her favorite ways to calm down and decompress is to draw, and it’s been amazing to watch her abilities really develop and grow. I’m SO proud of her. I’m also proud of her for handling some big speed bumps this year. She’s gone through a lot the last few years managing anxiety and the special way she learns…on top of it all, she experienced her first real dose of bullying.

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I was kind of shocked to hear about how catty it can get in the third grade, and honestly, at first it completely infuriated me. Marlowe was devastated and kept on saying that she didn’t know what she had done wrong or how to fix it. She came home many days in tears. Then, as I sat and really reflected, I realized that the most important thing we could do for her was to really reinforce that no matter HOW people treat you in school, you can always come back to your family– who you can count on to know you, see you, and uplift you. I told her that people will keep being catty for many years to come. It’s not ok, but it doesn’t mean that you have to stoop to their level, or that you have to let it affect your spirit. We practiced a lot of self-love exercises, affirmations, and bond-building at home. And though behaviors at school didn’t change much, her resilience did. And I’m really glad because that is a lesson that will serve her for her entire life. At the end of the day, we all need to find our people and invest in the relationships that make us feel good. NOT the ones that make us feel bad.

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Major also matured leaps and bounds this year! He started Kindergarten, and we were super lucky to get an absolutely INCREDIBLE teacher who really sees Major and totally embraces him. He’s been nurtured a lot emotionally at school, but he’s also been challenged. He is now fully reading the same books as Marlowe, and he’s developed a love of math due to the awesome math problems his teacher will make up just for him at Choice Time. I’ve been loving watching him form deep bonds with other boys his age. He has so much fun playing sports at recess with them, and it’s been one of the catalysts for his newfound love of Soccer and Baseball. I’m personally very proud that he can be an example at school of loving BOTH sports, and dance. His friends see how much his love of dance makes him a graceful and precise athlete as well! Mostly, I’m just really proud that his teachers and the administrators at his school always tell me what a sweet and polite boy he is, and how helpful he is around the school. Sometimes Middle Children can get a little lost in the shuffle, and school has been a place where Major has really found an identity that is completely his own. I can’t wait to see how first grade is for him!

Speaking of school next year, both of the kids will be moving schools in the Fall. While I anticipated a complete meltdown about it, both of them are being really brave and optimistic. Marlowe, in particular, has moments of fear and anxiety about it (I mean, who wouldn’t), but overall they really are looking forward to growing their friendship circles, and they’re excited for a fresh start. It’s been making me reflect on my own childhood, and being “The New Kid” really often. While I was officially at the same Elementary and Middle School for my young childhood, I did often go “on location” with my parents while they filmed movies, and I would enroll at new schools. There were of course those days and moments of intimidation, but overall I truly do credit those experiences for making me the person I am today. I learned so much resilience, and now as an adult I can swim in absolutely any social situation. I think that as scary as changing schools can be, it ultimately will provide an excellent tool in their toolbox as they mature and grow. As we all know, life is full of the unexpected. It’s so important to me as a parent to teach my kids that life does not have to unfold “perfectly” in order to find joy or satisfaction!

And lastly, my reflections wouldn’t be complete without a little report on my littlest Bug! Quite honestly, I’m blown away daily by this guy. I cannot fathom how he knows the things he knows or catches on the way he does. His ability to complete jigsaw puzzles is actually beyond what either of his siblings can do at 8 and 6 years old! In time, I think I will definitely test him for Giftedness if only to make sure I am aware of how I need to support and challenge his intellect as he grows older. But aside from that, I truly can’t wait to see how he flourishes in preschool next year! As anybody who follows me on my blog or social media knows, Mateo is quite…opinionated…and VERY independent. LOL. I think the structure of school will be extremely interesting for him, and will definitely be a certain kind of challenge! Thankfully, I know his preschool teacher very well (she taught the other two kiddos!) so I feel like the potentially frequent calls I’ll be getting from school will have a little bit of context for her. Ha!

Jokes aside, I’m really so grateful to have all of my kids in wonderful and nurturing school communities. It makes all the difference as a parent to know that regardless of where your child is in terms of their emotional development or education, that there are people there to welcome them with open arms. Teachers and school administrators don’t get celebrated enough for all that they do. The ones who love what they do are real gifts to entire communities!

I’d love to know some of the “Peaks” and “Pits” of your experience this school year! Let me know in the comments below.

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Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2023 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Yvonne Lipes says:

    I’m on both ends of school. My little guy started kindergarten in a new school and at first it was a struggle. He has an IEP for Speech and is in a smaller class size. however right before Christmas, his teacher came up with a solution of his own para to help him focus on tasks and lo and behold it’s been amazing to see how far he’s come. He has found his voice and is conversing. We will be working on his reading this summer.
    My oldest daughter started high school and while I chalked up the first few hiccups to nerves, she’s taken longer to come around and while she’s not doing as well as we had hoped, I’m positive for the future. She is our ace, but even they have their moments.

    05.17.23 Reply
  2. Anya says:

    Our school year here in Canada doesn’t come until the bitter end of June! So I’m surprised to hear about the end of the year being so early for you. We moved provinces and the kids were at new schools last year, and while it’s all so scary, it’s also comforting to see them start something new head on and see how far they’ve come in less than a year.

    05.17.23 Reply
  3. Cortney says:

    I don’t have little ones at home anymore, and in fact am a young grandma, but gosh darn I love reading about your kiddos. Their different personalities and how you love and nurture them as individuals. Well done Momma! They will no doubt grow up and continue being amazing humans!

    05.17.23 Reply
  4. Elle says:

    I LOVE hearing that Marlowe found her love of reading this year. My eldest was is in Kindergarten this year after not having any preschool. She is a strong reader, but struggles with confidence and as a result HATES reading. She will throw a full on fit if we ask her to read to us at home, but in class, she reads at a first grade level. You are giving me hope that she will still learn to love reading as much as I do. I’m having bittersweet emotions about her heading off to 1st grade – there is something so special about kinder. But I’m excited for her little sister to start preschool next year and am looking forward to all of the adventures both girls will have.

    05.17.23 Reply
  5. Dani says:

    It triggers me immensely when I hear that a child is being bullied at school. I had the experience myself from first through sixth grade and it still affects me to this day (I’m almost 50). After a few years of therapy, I can deal with it and with the behavior patterns that I have acquired as a result. But it was a long, painful road. I’m sure you’re all paying attention to Marlowe. But kids can be so mean and very manipulative even at a very young age. I hope that she finds great friends and that she will have good memories of her school days later.

    05.17.23 Reply
  6. Elizabeth Lindsey says:

    Ugh the 3rd grade girl drama has been so tough! We are just west over the boarder from you in Katonah & man I was not ready for it. I’ve lost mom friendships over the drama and seen my daughter struggle to find her place.

    05.17.23 Reply
  7. Jill says:

    I also have a daughter in third grade who struggled with reading (and math). I attribute it to being a July birthday (youngest in her class), attending a Spanish Immersion school and the pandemic. How do you learn to speak Spanish via zoom class when you’re in kindergarten? She finally turned a corner and now frequently sits down to read a book because she WANTS to.
    PS she’s also a thumb sucker

    05.17.23 Reply
  8. Diane Collet says:

    The end of this school year is very bittersweet for me. When it ends, with 20 school days left, it will be the end of my 5 years with this district as a special needs bus driver. The hubs & I have made a dream a reality of relocating to a major city we love where our already purchased condo waits for us. But, before that move happens, two days after school is over, my sister & her wife & a fellow driver who is now my BFF are going to France for two weeks…a trip of a lifetime! I am extremely saddened to leave ‘my kids’, but am overjoyed to have been able to witness the progress they’ve each made over the past year. I think about the 2nd grader who I have had on my bus since preschool & was mostly non-verbal at the beginning of the year & now identifies animals on his tablet & the noises they make, a long with counting & the alphabet. I think about the middle school boy with Downs Syndrome who was such a terror on the bus at the beginning of the year that one day I radioed my supervisor in tears & nearly quit mid-route, who now is one of our best riders, & always gives me a fist bump or a hug & a peck on the cheek. There’s the screaming bully who got glasses & I cannot keep enough books on the bus for her quiet reading. There’s too many to mention here, but you get the idea. Some might say I’ve made a difference, but the reality is that they’ve made a difference in my life. Some day I will write a book about this job .. the best job I ever had.

    05.18.23 Reply