Anna teaching me about Frida Kahlo, Meet the Masters-style.
::Warning: This is a lengthy, very open post. And please know, I am fragile.::
A Little Background
We've been deep in consideration of all things educational around here. I haven't blogged about it since it's a private issue and can sometimes be controversial. I was all set to continue down that path until I realized this journey is too good to keep to myself.
First off, too many people in our lives know about this crazy mid-year maneuver and are wondering how it's going. I was never one who had a lot of 'me time'--it's just not that season of my life. But, now especially, I simply do not have time to update my dear friends as I would like. Enter, my sweet blog. (Foreshadowing)
I am so blessed with my friendships and times like this make me so aware of that. Some friends are certain I am crazy (they might be right) to even consider homeschooling. Admittedly I was one of them last year. ("Are you enrolling again next year?" "Well, actually I'm considering homeschooling." "What? You're insane. Why in the world would you do that?!")
Some friends are watching closely and think I may be paving the way for them in the future. (We'll see about that.) And some friends are just very good friends and support me, even if I am crazy or our decision isn't something they would do. I am grateful for all the colors of my friendship rainbow.
The story goes, I have three kids in three 'schools'. My older two kids had been in a reputable private school and one remains there. He's happy and it is a very good fit for his learning style and personality. The other sweet dear has just embarked on a homeschooling journey with me for the remainder of this year. And, lastly, my little helper is in preschool.
Our reasons are many and completely full of shades of grey. We have always been committed to evaluating our kids' education per child per year. We don't think one size fits all at all times. This year, one of our kiddos needed a change. She does well academically and has friends in school but wasn't loving it and frankly, she's too young to become jaded.
Fear, Panic and Trepidation
I am incessantly inquisitive and love a good investigation. I'm sleuthy and very thorough. I used to think I was involved in my kids schooling. I worked in the classrooms. I met with the teachers. I worked on homework every night. Gift giving occasions always included some kind of educational enhancement to their current interests....Blah, blah, blah.
I was wrong.
This experience has shown me just how much I didn't know. We have been so blessed to have had wonderful teachers for our kids. Good schools + good teachers + involved parents = great education, right? Well, yes, but I have had a wake up call too.
For me, this journey has been as much about supporting my daughter as it have been about me adapting to what the situation calls for. You see, I like structure. I like a high bar. I like goals. She does too. BUT she might also like other things. That doesn't make her deficient in any way, just different. I like to say, she has been living in a black and white world and she's all color!
But back to me.
So, while I am Gumby over here, stretching and bending to adapt to what I am being called to do, I am certain it may kill me. I mean homeschooling is for freaky fringe people, right? These are people who inbreed and live on compounds or in the back woods. That's not us. We live in a beach town in Orange County, for crying out loud. I like structure. I like uniforms. By golly she is in a good place. ("Yes, but it's not all that for her." My voice reminds me.)
So, with D's encouragement, I embark on my research...My happy place of investigating. Oh, there is so much out there. There are treasure chests of blogs and resources. I could hardly stand the inspiration that rushed over me. "I can do this....She needs me to try to do this..."
This past Friday was her final day of school with her classmates and I could hardly walk the halls to pick her up. Our transition is fairly smooth since we'll still be on campus and see our friends. Playdates and activities are set and we even arranged to be pen pals with the class. (All first graders need to write, write, write). She was happy to bounce on out of there giving everyone a cheerful hug. Me, not so much.
I love her teacher. I love her little friends who I have been working with for a couple of years now. I like the feeling of being part of a class. The routine speaks to me. The group connection makes me feel warm inside. Class dynamics are hard but also so good. My self doubt gains speed.
Leaving the class I am certain I am going to loose it right there in the hallway IN FRONT OF EVERYONE--especially my daughter. "I can't crack. Not now."
I [sort of ] made it home and cracked all weekend. I am certain we have made a mistake. This is all so unnecessary. Let's go back to the way I like it and proceed status quo.
With great enthusiasm and the joyful smile I love so much, Anna bounces into greet me at 6:37 am. "Today is my first day of homeschooling! Woo Hoo!" I smile back and bury my head under the covers in sheer and utter panic. "What have I done?! It's not too late. She can slap that uniform on and get on to school."
At some point I realize we were passed the point of packing her up and proceeding as we do every Monday morning. I am terrified, literally terrified I am going to ruin her. She's a good student and what if I am the reason she is not from this point forward....
I am shocked at how hard it was for me emotionally to cut the cord from her classroom. Unexpected, to say the least. My research didn't allow for this sort of....feeling.
Anyway, D had to leave for his blissfull day at the office and we had to get started with our day. I had to pull it together and pretend like I knew what I was doing.
Yes, We Can
This girl is a teacher in training. I had planned to keep things as close to the program at school as possible but she isn't messing around. The blue folder is for math. The green is for work in progress. The yellow is for writing....
I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree afterall and she likes good structure too. And so, we proceed this day with a lot of unknowns together. We have some flexibility to go deep in areas that are especially interesting. We can read and write until the cows come home but there is still comfort in our schedule and our folders and what we both know and like. There will certainly be hiccups and bumps in the road but I as of today, I no longer feel like I will completely loose it and hyperventilate. I feel like we have an exciting opportunity to try this gig out and see if it suits any of us. We can always go back.
I am so proud and thankful for my 'can do' girl and her enthusiasm. Without it I may have crumbled before the day even started. Now, I am feel hopeful for what tomorrow will bring.