Today was first day back-to-cop classes for us. I am teaching a class on geology, so I spent quite a bit of time preparing and then some energy on teaching. Both of my boys are in my class (their choice), and then for the second hour 10 yo is taking Civil War and 8 yo is in Poisonous and Venomous Animals. Our coop is located literally on the spot of one of the major Civil War battles. This year there are many commemorative events taking place, and I was sort of regretting that we are living in such a history-rich area, yet not taking advantage of all the opportunities. This class is just perfect for 10 yo: it is for older kids, requires reading and seems to be challenging.
8 yo chose his class with a bit of reservation on my part; he would be the oldest there. However, he seems very excited about it, and he showed me a folder that he made in there. There was writing involved, and cutting and pasting. He also had to google images of animals he thought were poisonous, and he was able to do that on his own before class (with my supervision and encouragement).
4 yo is taking printing class, followed by Little Bodies. I am not concerned about the academic content, just that she gets to play and interact with other kids. "Mommy, we got to color with the wrong end of paintbrush and it was so fun!" 1 yo is in toddler room.
After we finished our classes and I collected the kids, we headed home for lunch. In the past, 1 yo would not last, so we had to hightail it, and quickly. He usually fell asleep on the way home, and then I frantically served lunch. I used to try to squeeze in some schoolwork around the coop classes and before taekwondo, and it did not go smoothly. Today I planned to get very little school done: math and Chumash for 10 yo, and multiplication and typing for 8 yo. We finished 10 yo's schoolwork before the coop. I quizzed 8 yo on his flashcards once before the coop and once after lunch. He finished his typing in the morning. I also asked kids to get started on Rosh HaShana cards. 10 yo picked a card "to you and yours" for one of his friends. I had to explain how that is not so appropriate. 8 yo wrote his without any fuss. Granted, it was those three lines, but this is a nice surprise.
10 yo's mishna teacher was coming, and I was planning to take some time to relax before taekwondo, but 8 yo pulled out electricity kit and asked whether we can do it. I know that this is true learning: he is curious, he wants to do it, and he will learn and retain. As he was opening it up, I saw that he must have pulled it out before. He knew exactly how to set it up, what all the parts are and how they work. I just sat back and watched. My father would have been proud of his free experimentation.
I kept thinking how 8 yo keeps surprising me academically in the past few weeks. He loves Keyboarding Without Tears, and keeps asking to do more and more. He is holding his fingers correctly, even though he did not learn all the letters yet. Considering how till now his modus operandi was to avoid computer unless he was passively watching, I am finding his new confidence very encouraging. He has been typing more.
He also asked me to get him cursive workbook from HWT. Again, I thought that we are done with handwriting practice, since last year it was hard, and I am not positive that cursive is an essential skill to learn any more. Yet he is enjoying it, and his letters are looking great. He is putting in a lot of effort. His printing also improved. Now, this kid qualified for OT at the beginning of the summer, and we have not exactly spent that time working on his handwriting.
So what did he do all summer? He went to camp. He played. He read. He hiked. He built with Legos. Nothing academic, really. Yet somewhere between getting older and more mature, and getting stronger, he is able and willing to do tasks which I would not consider before.
We are meeting with yet another psychologist. This one is strongly favoring medication, and not just for anxiety, but also for ADHD. I have talked to him about side effects of the medicine. My husband researched anxiety, and saw that kids are prescribed SSRIs, which, if the child is depressed, up the risk of suicide. I have looked into ADHD medicine, and found that most parents use it as a last resort. I brought up how I am concerned about long-term effects, and how I am worried about having to get off the medication one day and not having ever developed a focus of his own (I refer you to Leonard Sax for further reading). The response that I received was that I should worry about him now, not down the road. What happens down the road, happens. The funny thing is, as much as I worry about him now, I am not worried about him down the road, I know in my guts that he will turn out fine, find his path, discover his passion, and pursue it. It might not be college, it might not be a neat behind-the-desk profession, but he will be fine. I am not sure that I want to sacrifice the future for the sake of getting compliance now.
In a sense, I am glad that he is not in school, and I get to see and experience all these little pleasant surprises. Their loss, our gain.