Thursday, August 13, 2015

school days, school days, dear old golden rule days

There are some things in life that are flip-of-the-coin worthy - I could go either way, easily, and then wonder for ages if it was the right choice for me or if, in this grand Choose Your Own Adventure book we're all in, I'm going to end up on the game over page sooner than I'd like. But there are other decisions where I feel a laser beam shining directly from my brain towards my future path. Having children at all was one of the former, but staying home with them was the latter. I'm funny like that.

Deciding what to do about schooling for Lorelei this year was and is an ongoing process. It's our last year together before "real" school begins, and our last year as a daytime party of three. Since we're spending it in a brand new city with a cadre of cultural opportunities, part of me wanted to keep her home this year so we could treasure these days in whatever way we choose with New Orleans as our textbook. I'd sign her up for enrichment classes - dance! gymnastics! art! music! - so she could do all the things she loves while leaving most of our days open-ended for exploration and discovery.

But in my heart, I knew I couldn't. I can't homeschool my kids. Don't misunderstand me: I'm an educator through and through, and I will always be Lorelei and Phoebe's first teacher. I try to make our days together as much like homeschooling as I can, with opportunities for reading readiness, writing practice, creative expression, logic building, spatial awareness, and investigation of our natural world.  I've even purchased homeschooling resources (tell Leah I sent you!) and spend lots of my precious free time finding and preparing educational activities for our days together. But I believe strongly in public schools, in learning to work with and amongst peers, in developing relationships with adults other than your parents and the benefits of letting teachers provide constructive criticism while Mom and Dad get to be cheerleaders and sympathetic shoulders on the sidelines. I also know that I simply cannot do a sufficient job of teaching my girls on my own - I will continue to do all that I do now for the forseeable future, long after they've started leaving each morning on that big yellow bus, but I cannot and will not be their everything, both for their sakes as well as for my own.

So off to school Lorelei goes, a little Montessori school ten minutes away where she can practice taking turns, learning routines, and making friends - a good-enough school that allows us to send her only in the mornings, which is a rarity here, and a school that is fine with me keeping her at home whenever we have a pressing adventure. On this coming Monday morning, we'll be learning about tigers and leopards and camels at the zoo. Another day, we'll walk through the sculpture garden at City Park to draw pictures of our favorite works of art. We'll go to free kid concerts and try new food and go on scavenger hunts for letters and numbers and colors in the old neighborhoods of New Orleans.

And above all, we'll play and imagine.

Hoping we're opening the door on a year of wonder for all of us.

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