As if our life wasn't already filled with constant change, God threw another curve ball at us two weeks ago. I am a full time teacher again, and in the last way I ever imagined. Our sweet Miriam has had a heck of a year in kindergarten. We had a couple blissful weeks in August, and then we watched as our gal struggled with the rigor and structure of kindergarten. I watched my daughter, who was joyful and who flourished in preschool, flounder in her new environment. In the second semester, she started learning new information that I never would have imagined could come from a kindergarten kid. She was told she should start smoking. She learned vulgar language. She had a child show her rolling papers and a ziplock of a substance that Miriam described as PopRocks. The child had snuck it from his parents and told her how to smoke it.
She- we- just couldn't do it anymore.
It absolutely tore me to shreds to sit with her teacher and tell her that we were going to see how homeschooling worked. She spent the year investing in my sweet girl and pouring everything she had into ensuring that Miriam was successful in school. I hated telling her that, after nine months of effort and worry and love, we were walking away. Who am I kidding? I hated that we were walking away. It was terrifying, and I was nauseous with self-doubt for days. I still am at times. It was possibly the hardest thing I've done as a parent, most definitely the most difficult decision we've had to make for Miriam.
So here we sit, two weeks into our homeschool life. To my surprise, Miriam has been a great student most of the time. She works hard and truly enjoys what we are doing together. She's reading for me, something that I hadn't been able to get her to do without a fight. We've done science experiments, met authors and illustrators, and attended play groups. We've attended Mass with at the nearby Catholic school and watched their kindergartners read from the bible in front of the entire parish. We have worked on phonics, math fact fluency, and handwriting. We have learned about place value, ocean waves, and the chemistry behind lip gloss. Exercise, music, and art fill our play time. We learn in segments and take breaks as Miriam needs them. Yesterday she insisted that we continue playing with math fact families 30 minutes after I was finished with her lesson. Miriam has written and mailed letters to some of her favorite people. Khan Academy and Teachers Pay Teachers have seen more traffic from us than ever before.
I think to myself, "why weren't you doing all of this before?" And I remember the kid I picked up from school each day. The one who was so exhausted from holding it all together that she would melt down into a tantrum before I even had a chance to feed her a snack. The one who sometimes fell asleep on the way home from school and slept straight through to bedtime. The kid who just couldn't handle the idea of another second spent learning.
Yes, there is fear and doubt. There is much for this high school English teacher to learn about early elementary education. There are failures and there are still a few tantrums. But there is magic too. There is excitement and progress and a spark of genuine love for learning that I haven't seen from Miriam- maybe ever. It is the goodness that I am clinging to.
I'm not sure what our life will look like come fall, but over the summer, I'm turning this house into a school for all three of my kiddos- and any new ones who may come along. We're going to be exploring, stretching our minds, and searching for a LOVE for learning.