A return to school

We’re now a few weeks into school and life is going about as well as expected. Bode has seamlessly transitioned into fourth grade with several of his besties and a solid teacher.  He begged me to come to lunch last week so I obliged and happily won several rounds at Four Square (though it wasn’t my world domination of last spring; I’m out of practice). He’s juggling soccer, Cub Scouts and piano.

Their elementary school has a X-Country team that I convinced Hadley to join because she’s a great runner (though she’s better at sprints and middle distance). I was surprised when Bode said he wanted to become a part of it and that he’d recruited several of his buddies.

“You know that X-Country is running, right?” I queried.

He responded affirmatively and he has somehow forgotten he hates running because they’re now up to 1.5 miles.

I’ve been worried about Hadley adapting back to her public school and being really far behind after her three-year stint with Waldorf. The jury is still out on that but we’ve been blessed with the best teacher in the school and that is making a huge difference. Her bestie Alex is in her class and has been loads of help.

Hadley is a kid who needs time to just be. To create. To dream. Though she loves being with friends, she treasures her alone-time and will spend hours on the trampoline and in her room by herself; if we lived on a big property with trees,trails and streams, I’m sure I’d never see her.

I’ve never once heard her say she’d bored (one of the blessings of an imaginative visual-spatial kid) and she hates being rushed from activity-to-activity so piano and X-country are her only activities. I’ve been thrilled she’s also been helping with the VBC, the school’s broadcast journalism program that teaches how to write scripts, film and interview.

Last week was back-to-school night, during which time I had a nice chat with her teacher who is attempting to fill in the learning gaps between the two schools.  I was surprised when she told me the area in which she is most behind is technology. And yes, it’s pretty ironic that two computer-savvy parents have a computer-illiterate kid but that has been by design.

Waldorf schools are anti-technology and I’m anti-social media for kids/tweens so between those two, she has had little-to-no exposure. So, though I’m still vehemently opposed to social media/cell phones/texting, I’ve started helping her with typing programs and Microsoft Word today.

She was doing fine until we turned to geography. Rote memorization is tough (and flash cards are her worst nightmare) so I tried to find some fun websites to help her learn the 50 states but that fueled her frustration because she hates the computer. This made me frustrated about her bad attitude and unwillingness to learn. After she stormed off, I sat thinking about her struggles. It’s not that she doesn’t want to learn, it’s that she doesn’t know how to learn.

Imagine being stuck in a world that values round holes when you’re a square peg. I know there are thousands of kids like her but you’d think there would be more options to help. If I had a million dollars, I wouldn’t blow it on a fancy house or cars but on yanking her from school and hiring a private tutor who can teach to how she learns because I certainly don’t know how to do it– otherwise I’d homeschool her. It’s not her failing, it’s my own.

All the sixth graders had a self-portrait and description hanging around the classroom:

I found her quick biography fascinating. “Fast, creative. Curious.” She is curious but how to foster that curiosity in an educational system that quells the creative, out-of-box kid who can’t sit in a classroom all day?

We’ve both got a lot to figure out regarding how to go beyond just surviving but thriving the next six years.

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