We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are." ~Marjorie Pay Hinckley~

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Friday, September 14, 2012

In the Face of Academia

I am a teacher. Jared is a teacher. By default I love learning and want my kid to love school, adore books, be excited to learn new things, and learn to work successfully with all kinds of other people in this life. There's a ton of ways to skin that cat, no doubt, and every parent and every child has about a gazillion options when it comes to enlightening the brains of upcoming generations.

Recently the opportunity to put Lukas into a co-op preschool landed in my lap. My first thoughts were something like "How fun! I'd love to help create a curriculum, set up little circle time activities/charts/songs, etc"  Yes, I'm definitely a teacher nerd. I love to create 'systems' and 'organizational tools' and 'behavioral techniques' and try them all out on my kid and any kid loaned to my care. It's fun because it brings an instant result.  Like washing windows and vacuuming. The results are quickly seen and that brings on its own kind of visual sense of accomplishment for me. "Evidence of Learning" if you will, for any other teacher nerds out there like me.  Anyhow, I thought a learning group would be great when discussing it months ago when we'd just moved in, and the idea of finding little buddies for Lukas seemed to take on its own aura of importance.

 Until the time came nearer. And we've found little buddies through play groups once a week, or babysitting swaps here and there, and Sunday nursery, and just meeting random kids at the park.  And to top it all off, we've discovered something else not easily described.  THIS:

Sometimes a little buddy will meet us at our favorite place, but most of the time we're there without a playdate. Without a set arrival time. We just bust out the biketrailerstroller and go. And the thought of trading in 3 mornings a week of this freedom... for 2 hour long structured activities & field trip left me uneasy. The thought of missing watching the tadpoles turn to frogs, of missing the egret babies, or the Great Blue Heron schlucking fish whole like in the cartoons, or the turtles and the hill hikes left a gut feeling of wanting out of the contract (the social contract of meeting up to discuss a pre-school school year). So I backed out.  And after I hung up the phone I was filled with a sense of relief. The panic was gone. The stress was gone.

And for once, I felt like I listened really well to my gut. And we've kept on trekking on. I get a good workout from the hilly walk there, and Lukas gets to freedom to run, to be, to dig in the dirt, to see new perspectives, to learn about different plants and habitats, and just enjoy the beautiful world around him. 

All too soon he'll be cooped up inside all day for school. All too soon, he'll have to bring home the naughty habits of other kids (and they his I'm sure). But for now, it feels safe.  Like I can stoke his little fire for just a little longer so that it's got some surefire hot coals by the time go-time arrives. 

Not that learning academia is useless. Shoot, between our letteroftheday.com, and starfall.com, and endless bouts of reading during the day, I'm not worried about the school things yet.  No, not yet. I wonder if he'll ever be interested in homework. I pray he doesn't get any for a long while, yet I know that most teachers find it necessary. My poor 6th graders. How regretful I feel for giving you yours, now that I have a kiddo who I see needs to grow and live and be... and outside no doubt... outside where the world is. Not inside where the plugs are.

But I have to admit, when those friends with 3 year olds who can read or write mention the wonder of it, I do stop and consider what my kid is 'producing' academically. Then I think of the miracle that those kids are experiencing so early, and consider Lukas' little personal miracles that are just his.  It's never good to compare, I very quickly remind myself.  If all else fails, I could get envy and hate mail by broadcasting the fact that Lukas slept through the night at 7 weeks old. Anyways, after quick musing of such things ridiculous, we usually go find some snails, or something that starts with letter __ outside, and let it be.

Eat that Academia. :) 


Anna said...

Although I did "homeschool preschool" I felt the same way about putting too much of a schedule and academic expectations on my kids, I suppose you could say, that I never enrolled them, and never plan to enroll them in real preschool. I even felt like putting Joshua in Kindergarten at 5 was somehow ending his little innocent childhood of exploring and discovering and imagining. Good for you to stick with your gut. Every kid is different and only mom knows best, right.

Tabitha said...

I love it Jess. Once they start school they will be there ALL DAY everyday for 13 years!!! I will be sad to be away from my kids that long. Not to mention after school clubs, sports, etc. I know that is all very important, but I want to treasure these precious 5 years at home where I feel we can wake up each morning and do whatever strikes our fancy. Enjoy playing with the neighbor kids outside in the dirt from dawn to dusk. I KNOW the importance of education, but I figure if I send my little guy to school with a love of reading and a love of learning and the basics of colors, shapes, alphabet, numbers he will be fine. He is such a sponge right now he sucks up every bit of information I give him. He doesn't need to start school at age 3!!! I'll do my part of mom. I'll enjoy these precious toddler years while I am still his BEST friend and then I will ball my eyes out when I drop him off for his first day of "real" school :)

Ixchelle said...

that's why I love you. Wish we could go on those adventures with you. We miss you! Come visit for Thanksgiving if you can.

V said...

Love your wisdom and perspective as always. I went the other direction and can attest by making a mistake that it has not been the best for my child or our family. (Why didn't you write this post a few months ago? jk! But I DO love the things you share.)

And I love the Sister Hinckley quote at the top of your blog. It is so wise and different parts have stood out to me at different times over the past year or so. Thanks Jess!

Tara Oliver said...

I've always been a preschool advocate. I don't feel like I'm good at teaching my child some of the things that a preschool teaches. My kids love (and loved) preschool. I think it was really good for them a couple days a week. And I think it helped (helps) them to get ready for kindergarten. I found a preschool that I really really love and am super happy to be a part of!

However I do totally understand your view. What I don't like is those parents who use school as a babysitter. "All day kindergarten? Yes please!" No way! Not if there is a choice......anyway, I love your insight. You are a wonderful mom and I admire so many of the activities that you do!

Can I also say (instead of leaving a comment on every one of your posts, ha ha) that I love that you guys are adjusting so well to a beautiful life teaching in California? It looks like a wonderful area (um, beach in October? YES please!) and you guys are really establishing a good life there. Thanks for all the blog updates!!

Jess said...

Does Lucas is getting older I can see how he would just love to have some sort of group to belong to where he can play with kids especially boys he says, and have fun socializing with other kids. I think that my biggest worry that I have for mine and other little kiddos is the very long days away from mom and dad followed by just a couple of hours of time together before the little ones must go to sleep.

Jess said...

I feel pretty blessed that I can stay home all day with Lukas so that he learns love and trust, and our family religion, and our family manners, and our family rules... and can know what peace feels like.

Tara! Good luck with those new twins. you're a great lady and a wonderful mom. It's always a pleasure to hear from you!

Jess said...

I feel pretty blessed that I can stay home all day with Lukas so that he learns love and trust, and our family religion, and our family manners, and our family rules... and can know what peace feels like.

Tara! Good luck with those new twins. you're a great lady and a wonderful mom. It's always a pleasure to hear from you!