Saturday, July 10, 2010

Year One with Two- A Learning Curve

It is not a stretch of the imagination to understand how very different this school year was than my two previous years.  Even though Julia and I had our days of trying to figure one another out in our new roles which led to uncovering the good, the bad and the ugly, this year, I was not prepared for how PULLED I would feel between two kids.  There was Julia who had received my, mostly, undivided attention for two years and then there was Brighton who could hardly write his name, much less read directions on a math sheet.  I had forgotten how time consuming a non-reader could be!  I have to say, overall, Julia was as patient as a second grader could possibly be.  There were certainly days she needed me more than I was able to give her and that frustrated us both.  I heard my “speak from the heart” (whether you want to hear it or not) children say more than a dozen times, “I am feeling left out.”  Depending on the day, time of day/month, how long since I had eaten, this would evoke sweet compassion and a willingness to stop to give out a little extra TLC OR it would send me stomping to my closet to call or text whomever I thought would induldge me in a pity party.  (Actually, no one-- for long anyway.) 
Discovering all of B’s male buttons surprised me.  Surprises are a challenge to me-- any form-- but especially when the surprise leaves me puzzled.   I had to find out what worked for Brighton and what didn’t.  The difference between the genders in our little learning room was apparent from the very first day.  Navigating his “boyness” required skills that I felt I did not possess.  He has strong physical responses to being wrong, being unable to figure out something quickly, or having to “try again”  whereas Julia’s response is more emotional, more draining, more time consuming............ I truly don’t know which one is worse. 

With the same curriculums, I realized they have their own way of making it work for them.   Brighton is more visual when it comes to math, grouping objects in his head and counting them that way.  At his age, Julia would need to count every little bumble bee with her finger.  Brighton learns to spell new words by seeing them over and over.  Julia spells more accurately by sounding out the letters.  If Brighton gets bored, there will be trouble.  If Julia gets bored, she grabs a book off the shelf.  If there is reading to do, Brighton runs to get the Legos and Julia curls up by my side and I have made her day. 
Sounds like a fantastic year, huh?  It was a year of one big learning curve.  We had some great days, some fun field trips, special school days at Panera, some sweet moments that would not have happened otherwise and for that, I am so thankful for these years the Lord has given me.  
Things I remember about the first part of the year:
-Having a great plan
-Starting out really well
-The kids energizing each other
-Finishing earlier than I had planned each day
-Wishing B could read--- NOW
-Wishing he enjoyed books as much as his sister
-Being impressed with B’s visual skills in math
-Wondering if I remembered to sign up for any field trips
Things I remember about the second part of the year:
-Wondering WHY it took us SO long to finish school everyday
-Figuring out what to do with our new puppy during school
-The kids draining each other
- Trying to figure out what happened to all the pencils we used to have
-Thinking, “Now, Who told me to do this?”
-Wondering what I was thinking signing up for so many field trips
-Figuring out my phone gadgetry was just as distracting as my laptop
-Having to LOOK for just about anything we needed
-Wishing for more time to cover “electives” and more time for reading
-Coming up with my best idea all year during the LAST month of school
-Loving and hating Saxon Math all at once
-Realizing how excited they were about promoting to the next grade

Favorite Memories:
Watching Johnny Tremaine with the kids after we studied the Revolutionary War and watching B march purposefully out the door with his “war hat” on and his wooden rubberband gun
Hearing them cheer each other on while trying to win stars and hearts by answering “fast math facts” 
Reading Anne of Green Gables with Julia
Finding sweet notes to me on the message board
Hearing B quote Psalm 119: "verses 9 and 10 and 11 and 12"
Planning “Museum Week” (a.k.a. “I need a break week”)  the night before
Picking peas and shelling them during reading time
God Stops
Kindergarten Graduation
Sitting in the audience at piano recitals
Having significant snow days
Listening to Julia recite “Mother’s Jewels”  
Sitting by Brighton when he “got” reading-- a friend calling it the “magic culmination”
Hearing Brighton read ALL of The Adventures of Little Bear
Reading all that was written “to and from” when we returned home from the Valentine’s party
Watching Julia read to Brighton and then Brighton read to Julia

Year one with two gets five stars from this momma.  Every little surprise, all the big frustrations and every Saxon math sheet was worth it.  First and Third grade-- here we come. Pencils or no pencils. 


Alyssa said...

I'm so glad you share what you learned. I know that they are learning tons, and it's fun to see that you are too. Makes me want to attend your school!

Sarah said...

Again, will you be my teacher? Sounds like fun!

andrea said...

I was thinking the same thing as Sarah stated above. Will you be my teacher? All those field trips look wonderful and loads of fun. It has been awhile since someone read to me....that sounds really nice too :-)

Wendy said...

Looks like a great year!