Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Adventure Worth The Taking

Spring break has come and gone; we're closing the month of April and getting ready to dust off May for public consumption.

Where have these past 365 days gone?

What a year of wonder this has been for us. This first year of schooling at home has been a uniquely glorious experience for our family, most especially for my girls and I.

Picture this: going into a new situation, unsure of how it would work out. It's not exactly a "tried & true" method, and it has a lot of detractors, after all. People constantly asking, "How well will they do?" I spent hours asking myself if they would do well at all. Would they even like it? What if every day was a struggle? What if I couldn't do it? Or worse, what if I wasn't good enough to be the teacher they needed.

I might have all the right intentions, but it would boil down to nothing at all if I wasn't enough.

To say we were starting a grand adventure would be putting it mildly. I, the consummate classroom teacher, was switching up everything I knew and withdrawing my children from the brick and mortar brand of schooling and keeping them (gulp)- at home. With me. All day. (Gulp).

Believe me, that last thought brought on plenty of panic attacks. I adore my children more than words can proclaim. But even I need a break every now and again. I'm good, but I'm not that good.

After much inner reflection, I came to the simple conclusion that I was just going to have to deal with it. Good days and bad days alike; I'd put a smile on my face, and teach. In my mind's rosy picture, I'd teach and they'd sit and absorb every single word, demanding more. A standing ovation would ensue after particularly good lessons where much knowledge was imparted.
Then probably we'd fall into a heap of hugs in the afternoon, discussing our favorite works of fiction: me, the newest Philipa Gregory, they, the newest Fancy Nancy installment, while expanding our pallette eating rare and new foods we'd previously been afraid to try. Urchin, anyone?

Rose tinted glasses aside, this truly has been an amazing year. Maybe not every single lesson was an opus performance by me, but despite that, the girls have come so incredibly far. I am daily amazed. Things that they struggled with in the Fall are now second nature and not given a moment's hesitation. They're making rapid deductions and reasoning with logic that is based on understanding and comprehension. They're thinking outside the dreaded box, making leaps in the scaffolding of their knowledge, and I find myself envious. I know I sure didn't understand the process of the water cycle to that degree in first grade. And I certainly hadn't the foggiest notion of multiplication.

Perhaps the best gift of all, besides the return of their curiosity and interest, is my rare opportunity to get an educational Do Over. Remember how in Elementary School you were just there to have fun? I showed up, did some worksheets, some group work, played outside, and went home with a folder full of To Do stuff haunting me. I didn't really worry about what I was all seemed a by-product of my time at school. Consequently, I never really internalized a lot of what I was supposedly learning, and thusly, it fell out of my head and was quickly forgotten. But now I'm revisiting it all again, lesson by lesson, concept by concept. Maybe to some it sounds an inane and boring perk, but to an avid acquirer of knowledge like myself, it is a rare gem indeed.

We just re-enrolled for second grade. There is simply too much I still don't, I mean, they, still don't know. Much to be learned and to be explored. More connections to make and more understandings to gained. How could I not want to do this all again? And the best part is that, going into this next year, I'm not afraid. It's not some unseen thing on the horizon, off my road map; it's an experience that I cannot wait to have.

First grade is nearing its end. Second grade and beyond await just up around the bend. Bring it on. We're ready.

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