Friday, May 31, 2013

Finishing Up Fifth Grade (Notes from a Learning Life!)

We’ve had a busy final month or so of the school year, so busy that I’ve not had much time to write anything about schooling!

As she is growing and changing so much physically and emotionally, the sweet girl has been struggling with increased anxiety related issues (in general, not specific to school) which have also been taking up a good bit of our time and energy as a family. We’re in the process of getting some guidance and putting some things into place for ourselves as we pursue some mental health goals for her and for all of us, and I remind myself that is all a huge and important part of life and of learning.

School subjects have not fallen by the wayside though. We’ve had a good strong finish to the year in language arts and math and a sort of limping finish to science and history, though they both had their highlights this year too. When I look back on everything, I am pleased with S’ academic progress in many areas, especially her continued passion for math and art and her growing confidence as a writer. I am pleased with the progress she made in taking more strides as an independent learner. The areas I think she has struggled with most (and I have struggled with most as her teacher) have to do with some of the broader anxiety and perfectionist issues. What gives me hope is to remember the fruit we have seen already, and to know that more fruit will bloom as we continue to plant needs, water and nourish the soil, and trust the Gardener of our souls.

The standardized tests are done (she has to take them certain years in compliance with state requirements) and she passed with absolute flying colors. Her overall marks in Language and Mathematics were given a “highest level” rating, which makes this mama/teacher’s heart very happy. (I don’t actually mind standardized tests, which show me areas in which I can improve instruction, and the sweet girl actually finds them fun!)

Although we’ve sometimes marked the end of a school year with a special lunch or something like this, this is the first year we’re doing a little bit of a “graduation” ritual. Thinking over the fact that she is moving into the middle grades, S. asked if it might be possible if we mark the occasion of her finishing up elementary studies in some way. I tend to break our learning into four year cycles (because of the classical influence on our schooling approach) but I know what she means – this does somehow feel like a turning point year. And I don’t see any reason to not give her the kind of affirmation and encouragement she needs about what a good job she’s done! So I just finished taking brownies from the oven and creating a diploma (which will be signed by me, her teacher, and her dad, whom we like to call the principal) and we’ll celebrate after dinner. A little bird told me that someone has prepared a speech about her first six years of homeschooling…

Six years! Midway through next year, we will be exactly half-way through this home learning journey we officially set out on. There are days when I’ve wondered if we’ll ever make it, a few days when I’ve been ready to quit, and many, many more days when I’ve just felt so incredibly blessed that we’re doing this and so affirmed in our call. We really are doing this…through the hard parts and the amazing parts…building a learning life.

No comments: