The Last Chapter of the 2006-2007 School Year ended for us last Thursday. It is satisfying to take a look at the books we've enjoyed as a family, to hear the children's final reports and oral reminiscences, and to evaluate within my own heart the progress that we have made.
My youngest child, Artiste, has completed 2nd grade. Cheerful and intelligent, she is a joy to teach. With pencil always in hand, everything she learns about comes forth as a sketch or drawing.She received wonderful instruction at the art museum this year; I was proud that one of her creations was chosen to be on display at the museum for 6 weeks this summer.
But I have agonized, too. The list of books we have shared together is significantly shorter than the list of books I read with my older children when they were 2nd graders. Have we done enough? Is she being cheated? I think most homeschool moms have those unsettling feelings.
I was expressing my thoughts aloud to my oldest daughter as we were walking together the other night. She very wisely said, "Mom, she may not be as advanced in the area of history as we were at her age, but look at her other skills and abilities. She can multiply 12x 14 in her mind ~~something I cannot do without pencil and paper! " She went on to catalog her sister's other talents and abilities, music to a Mother's ears.
Truth be told, with the youngest child I am seeing my own teaching role is important but not as all-encompassing as it was with the elder children. Big Brother reads the Narnia series to her on a regular basis; Joy whips out the flashlight at bedtime and reads her mystery books; and Melody has relived her own favorites such as Paddington and Piggle-Wiggle with her sister; Dad makes up outlandish bedtime stories. Artiste also sat in on many of our Jr. High Watership Down discussions. She begged to learn to type like the "big kids", which she did independently using the Mavis Beacon program.
Insight gained: the older siblings have learned to fish. Now they are teaching her to fish. Some of the teaching is intentional, some is incidental, but it is unfolding in a measurable way. My year-end evaluation causes me to see that I have given up some of the control as to *WHAT* is learned and when. But giving up that control has lead to net gains: family-centered learning, with each member contributing gifts and talents in a unique way.
I am humbled as I realize that part of the joy of teaching is to work yourself out of a job.