Friday, September 12, 2014

School Blues & Profound Thoughts

Last night Kelsey was very discouraged. She has started back at public school this year, and she is not used to the teaching styles and assigned work in a regular classroom. The sheer volume of worksheets she has to do has been very daunting to her. She has been bringing home hours of homework each night because she hasn't been able to get her work done in school.

Wednesday I emailed her teacher and expressed my concerns and frustration. I really want Kelsey to be successful this year and gain confidence in her abilities. She is such a bright girl, but she hasn't been feeling that way at all. The difference between homeschool and public school in the elementary grades is HUGE, and it's a big adjustment to make the switch. Especially in 5th grade.

Yesterday as Kelsey was doing her homework, she told me how tired she was and how much she wanted things to go back like they were before. Although a part of me agreed wholeheartedly, a larger part of me felt like there is a bigger lesson to be learned here: you can't always quit just because things are hard.

When I started running some years ago, I would run on my lunch break at work. There were a number of hills (large and small) near my office, and as I ran up the hills, my legs would burn and hurt and I'd want to quit jogging and drop to a walk. But I never would let myself. I had made a deal with myself that I'd never quit while I was going uphill. I had to get to the top before I could decide how much farther I would go. As my muscled burned I would often move slower, but I would press forward and jog to the top. When I got there and the road leveled out, the relief I felt was so great that I would often run a good bit father before dropping into a walk.

As I shared this story with Kelsey, I told her that we can't quit school right now just because we are running uphill. It is hard, but I know she can do it. When the road levels out, then we can decide how much further to go.

Of course, Kelsey being Kelsey, she didn't respond the way I thought she would.

"You know, Mom, there's this trick to running uphill. You have to zigzag back and forth across the road so it isn't so tough and then you can get to the top easier."

So much for my profound thoughts.

The rest of the story is that her teacher DID email me back yesterday and the hours of homework are over. The class will start working in small groups next week based on where they are academically. and Kelsey will be given a chance to get used to the new learning format. I'm hopeful things will only go up from here.

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