Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Not-Back-to-School Portrait

 
Our Not Back-to-School Portrait... and My Beginning of the School Year Freak Out:
We didn't exactly stop "school" over the summer, but we definitely relaxed our schedule.  Now I am dreading starting it up again and I'm not quite sure why.  The girls are excited, but for me it is a lot of organizing, working to deadlines, worrying about other's expectations, and trying to keep up with everything the girls say they want to do, plus the things I think are essential.

We spent part of this day organizing our schedule and adding in times to accomplish the various "want to learn" topics on the list the girls and I created earlier in the summer.  It is looking like I will need to craft a weekly "to do" list so that they can get some things done while I work in the evenings.  Our agenda currently includes:  a Shakespeare production, a P.E. class, wilderness days/nature studies, San Francisco history studies, greater skills in reading, writing, and math, creating a newsletter, Mandarin and Latin, Spanish, culture studies, science basics, chemistry, a production of The Hobbit, ancient world history, storytelling classes, literature/book club, philosophy discussions, Religious Education, swimming, dance, running, piano, martial arts, and anatomy.  OK, so... writing all of this down in a list I can see why I am tired thinking of it (and it doesn't even include what I need to get done at my FT job!)  But not all applies to both of the girls - several things are just for one or the other and running more is for me alone.  Believe it or not, we even built in a free day each week for field trips and other opportunities.  And some of it (martial arts, piano, the newsletter, Mandarin) might just fall through the cracks - we'll see.

And so, right now I feel torn between concern about preparing the girls for college and concern that they enjoy play time as much as possible.  They suddenly seem so big!  So mature!  So accomplished!  And that observation is sparking seemingly opposite reactions in me - wanting them to relish being kids and at the same time wanting to make sure that they are adequately educated to compete in an unknowable future.  (Yikes!  This made me realize that I should add programming to the list above!)  I read several books about creativity and work this summer and somewhere came across the idea that we have no idea what the world of work will look like in 20, 30, or more years and thus no idea how to prepare kids for that world.  I like to think that free play leads to creativity and imagination - obviously essential.  But knowledge and understanding - more than I have! - also seems important.  Though reflecting on the opposite approaches needed for each and the values that each represents makes me want to go back and eliminate much from our list of things to do.  (Or just never get around to adding those that I have had on my 'to do' list and have yet to act on, which is more likely.)

One thing I have noticed of late is their maturity and responsibility, accepting directions that they don't want to hear without complaint, doing what I ask, cooperating with one another and with me, entertaining themselves in long, involved, self-generated projects, and helping others without being asked.  While knowledge and skills are also important, it is these things that I most respect about these girls and hope to nourish as we spend our days together this coming year.  I've been praying for a productive school year and through prayer have come to better appreciate these budding attributes in both girls.  Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for their existence, such a miracle and ongoing blessing.

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