Tuesday, July 9, 2013

School: Belated Report Card

Even though I have not turned my attentions to the new school year, I went to our school’s uniform swap yesterday morning after dropping Brighton at Music Camp.  I was hoping to swap out Julia’s old jumper with the next size up.  Just like the familiar smells of a library bringing thoughts of new books, new experiences, and quiet reading, when I walked into the school, my thoughts turned to assignments, “do we have everything?”, projects, snack hungry children, "let's go knock out first draft math homework!".......

I walked into the room of the swap and Brighton’s third grade teacher was there.  She seemed genuinely happy to see me.  I was relieved by her kind smile and her questions about B and our summer.  You just never know.  He had a fine year in her classroom but I know there were times she had to reign him in.  At the end of the year, she gave each child a certificate for a character quality.  I laughed out loud when I saw B’s.

Yes, he is.  I recall many of mine and Mrs. Johanson’s conversation but the one that flashed when I read this little certificate was the one she was telling me how Brighton liked to “help her out” in running the class room... especially if someone was misbehaving and more than once, she had to tell him “Thank you, Brighton, but I can take care of [this/myself/this classroom/these students].”  He also was very opinionated on where he sat in the room.  I think “boldness” got a few votes here.

Honestly, I am shocked by his boldness at times.  He’s more like his Daddy in that area.  He’ll be the husband that doesn’t mind returning things at Wal Mart with no tags, no receipt and three strikes on your driver’s license.  You know, important things like that.  No matter what he’s after, it is fun to watch him in action.... unless he’s after me.  I’ll never forget the spring in Branson when he went BACK to the ice cream stand and asked for more.  He came back with a whole new bowl.  Truly, I’m so grateful for it because I know with his boldness under the control of the Holy Spirit, the boy won’t be stopped.  I’ve seen it do many good things.  However, many times his boldness has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit so it must come to a screeching halt.  As we parent him, we trust he will use it for God’s glory as he matures.

In character
First day-- this is DEFINITELY B's "I am extremely nervous" look.
One of B's book projects-- can you see the BICYCLES in the background?!  Yes, at my front door.  But that has nothing to do with school-- just my life right now.

I enjoyed seeing Julia grow as a student, rising to the challenge of someone else’s expectations.  I watched her struggle through some friendship dynamics which I believe we are laying a foundation for dealing with those hurts-- some intentional but most unintentional.  I discovered strong opinions in her choices of school uniforms which ended up her wearing the SAME thing almost every week for the second part of the year.  She read some great books and enjoyed the class discussions surrounding them.  Where the Red Fern Grows plunged down to where the tears are kept, let them loose, and they flooded.  Books had evoked emotion before but not like this.  She won’t forget that one.  The second half of the year, I saw her trying to be more responsible, her work looking nicer, making sure she had everything each day but still struggling with this.

At the end of the year, each student was given a little booklet with blank pages.  They were to take it home and write kind words about each person in their class.  Of course, I loved this idea -- getting written words from all my friends!  It was an easy project but it definitely took some time for a class size of 18.  When they were all turned in, her teacher, Mrs. Hartwell, took the booklets apart and stapled each student’s pages together so Julia got a booklet with a sweet note from every one of her classmates.  Reading through Julia’s, I was surprised by how many commented on her sense of humor and her “ability to crack a joke”. {I didn't include those here.}  Here are some of my favorites.

And this one...

Evidently, fine posture is important to a fifth grader.  And good posture makes people happy.

We loved our school year at Christian Life Preparatory School {CLPS}.  It was more of a transition than I thought it would be.  Yesterday, I was talking to a lady at the pool whose kids will start their first year in August and when I identified our biggest problems, it really seemed a bit ridiculous.  I don’t know this mom very well so when I told her our main issues were turning in assignments on time and writing names on papers, she most likely walked away thinking I was school mom of the year, like, with her act VERY together.  But YES!  Those were our looming challenges that cost us, I mean, them a letter grade from time to time!  Bottom line-- my kids need more supervision than I was giving and it took me awhile to come to terms with that.  I also had to learn that I could NOT care more about their grades than they did.  It wasn’t my report card that was coming {which truthfully, when I was young, those were my favorite days of school -- AFFIRMATION in black in white.  Loved it.}  My kids?  Not so much.  As I type, they have NOT EVEN ASKED what their grades were last semester!  Only I know.  They really just don’t care right now.  Maybe that’s a con of homeschooling all these years.  And I can swallow that.  There were SO many pros.

What I loved about CLPS:  the teachers, the assignments coming from somewhere else {this was the double edged sword-- I LOVED them but then I didn’t like them because they HAD to do them}, projects I would have never pushed through, encouragement and constructive criticism from the teachers, my Tuesdays and Thursdays, RenWeb, no homework weekends, the books they read, the International World’s Fair, the uniforms, opportunities to be on stage, giving speeches in class and the friendships forged.

What I missed about homeschooling full time:  Flexibility will always be at the top of my list-- a strict schedule hindered travel plans and said “no” to a few days I felt my kids just needed a rest.  I missed our museum week, Science Etc./Mrs. Winsor, free-er Fridays, pajama days, conversations I missed out on, field trips, reading to them during lunch... oh my goodness.  It was a good 5 years.

And last year was a really good year too.  We are looking forward to August... kind of.  Thanks, Mrs. Hartwell and Mrs. Johanson!!



Patti said...

These details are so helpful to me. We considered applying to a university model program this year, and, after MUCH deliberation, decided to wait. I love so much about homeschooling, but the thought of relinquishing a little control and responsibility is definitely appealing. However, I also have a 'bold' child, and I wondered how that would go. It is so hard to create scenarios at home that require waiting one's turn, or the necessity of putting one's name on one's paper. And we never have due dates. I think the added structure would help all of us. So please keep blogging your journey--the pros and cons!

Also, why is Where the Red Fern Grows considered a classic need-read? I only read it once, probably when I was Julia's age. I just remember the deep abiding sadness. Is there great literary merit, or do you think it's the cathartic experience that makes it such a fixture?

TJ Wilson said...

Wal Mart returns and Where the Red Fern Grows - you got me with both!