Friday, January 20, 2012

Sending My Two-Year-Old to School: Five Months Later, She's Blooming

E is for Elephant -- Grace works on a craft at home
during one of our "not at co-op" school days.

Last September, my daughter and I enrolled as student and teacher at a homeschool co-op in our area.  I had my doubts, and my reasons, for starting her out so young.

Those first few weeks tore me up inside, and there were even days when I wanted to give up. But, somehow, I stuck with it. And as the school year continues, I see more and more evidence that my husband and I made the right choice.

Grace has fully transitioned into the routine, and no longer tags along with me to the classes I teach. In fact, yesterday she went skipping down the hall to her classroom and said "Bye, Mom" so matter-of-factly that I stood there dazed for just a moment (Wait! I thought. You're not even going to cry for me, just a little?).  She plays well with the other kids now, has friends, helps her teachers, and comes running into my arms at lunchtime and at the end of the day!  Of course, she's not perfect and still has her off days, but overall things are going as they should.

The only regret I have at this point is that for the first few months I spent such a big chunk of my "not at school" time working on lesson plans, lecture outlines, and grading that I didn't get to spend as much fun time with my daughter as I would have liked. And for the first four months, I didn't get around to our "at home" curriculum at all.

Now, as the second half of the year is well underway, I've been able to resume our home lessons.  Today was one of those days when a breakthrough happens and can't go unmentioned.  She's coloring inside the lines, and able to trace some of the easier letters of the alphabet.  She's counting, reciting her ABCs well, and knows almost all of her basic colors and shapes.  Her vocabulary is impressive. And she's able to follow directions so much better than when we started out. 

Sure, much of this would have happened anyway since she just turned three recently. But, by homeschooling, I SEE it -- the fine motor skill development, the social play at school, and the seeds of independence that will no doubt haunt me and make me proud in years to come.  And there are 19 other children in my heart now, as well.  These are my students. I look forward to seeing them each week, hearing their stories, and sharing what I can of our faith with them in the classes I teach.  They are such good kids! 

And finally, I must not forget to mention the friendships that are growing between me and the other moms at the co-op.  It is so refreshing to share ideas, offer sympathy (on those really, really bad days), and know there's someone else who understands what it's like to always walk around with a handful of dry erase markers in  your purse that don't really write any more.

It's all been such a rich journey for us.  I know there are wonderful curricula out there for families who don't want to be bound by the choices others have made. I had my "ideal curriculum" chosen also. But without the co-op experience, I don't think I'd have the confidence to do it on my own.  I am one who can easily overdo it and expect too much, too soon.  So seeing what other children in my daughter's class can and can't do at this age has helped me go into this with much more realistic expectations.

The adventure is still ongoing, but I'm ready and willing to call it a success.  I can't wait to see how we're doing when the school year ends in May.  Maybe then I'll clean out my purse ...

Our "math" work -- not my favoite subject to teach,
but we still managed to have some fun and
do some counting.

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