Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Never say never...

But I would (probably) never homeschool. And yet, I am taking on the responsibility, more so this year than last, to oversee his 'homework' and to be an active collaborator in what he brings home. I intuit what he is reluctant to do, what he professes not to be good at, and seek strategies to show him that he CAN learn, to celebrate successes, and to mark progress.

Most of all, I seek to pass responsibility to him, so he becomes more and more a self-starter, a problem-solver, an independent thinker, and someone who knows how he is best able to learn.

At home we have the luxury of time: to try different approaches towards a topic or text, to supplement learning, and to branch off into a different area. I am continually impressed that his teachers are able to impart knowledge and skills, but it also falls short - there is more that can be done at home/outside of school, and should be.

From what I've seen so far, school will provide the basics, but education, the kind that matters, truly is a self-directed lifelong pursuit.


Tyler has always tread lightly, seeking to walk in others' shoes. At 5 years old, he says to me in frustration, "How do you think I feel? How do you think that makes me feel?" This is pretty sophisticated for a senior kindergarten child. Then again, he has counseled his 3 year old sister on why it isn't fair to SHOW you have a favourite, and why you can't just show love to one person, or to one person more than other. He tells her, "you need to love other people too, or they feel left out." He has a child's sense of fairness - when given a gift at school, he will save some to bring back to his sister.

He is cheerful at school pick-up, but sometimes hours later will reveal some interpersonal conflict that troubled him. I know I am privileged to be taken into confidence, so I try to listen first of all, take his lead, and help him work out how he feels and might do. And, unfailingly, take his side. The classroom and playground can be rough and loose, and some days, I need to let him transition back to home life, and even to build him back to the child I see, the one who is loving and loveable.

He is more observant, socially savvy, and has more experience with his peers this year. It also means he might be more vulnerable to having his feelings hurt, whereas last year he may not have noticed slights or how kids close ranks and can be fickle. I see the ebb and flow of his own attachments - they reveal themselves in a daily-changing birthday invite list.

He recognizes when being sick gives him a reprieve. He takes a day off school and it stands in also as a mental health break. I will give him these through his school career. If adults can have autonomy at work, and can plan vacation, so too kids should be able to escape sometimes from routine.

He is sensitive, and if nurtured, makes up his nature, and what makes him whole. I will help him protect this, the thing that will keep him open to the world, and to others. If he can be sensitive and remain optimistic, it will turn into a gift he can give: to reflect others back to themselves, to be a negotiator, an encourager, a peacemaker, a teacher/coach/mentor. If he can remain self-aware and confident, he can pursue happiness and purpose/meaning in life.

The older he gets, the better I learn what prayers to pray over him.