Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dear Teachers

Well, here they are. My babies. Now you get them more waking hours than I do. And you get the fun hours, not when they are tired and crabby (for the most part.)  And you get them separately, away from their siblings, where there will be no bickering, punching, or kicking amongst the three.  Lucky you.

Lets just put this out there from the start: None of them will be your star students. I tried really hard to do some of the things you asked us to do for the summer. It started well enough but gradually went down hill as the summer progressed. Since they all have reading disorders, none of them like to read. I hate saying that, but I’m gradually accepting this truth. I made them all sit down and read as much as I could this summer. I saw them holding the books. One or more of them may or may not have been hiding some electronic device behind the covers of the book. But my seventh grader read both of the books she was required to read and she did the written summary for one of them.

I bought them each a grade level appropriate math workbook.  I might be able to return those and buy you each a coffee. But we took a big road trip and we each estimated how many miles we would drive in each segment, and we calculated the differences in each guess and we talked about our reasoning for each guess. We watched the gas prices and tried to figure out how much each day cost in gas. We also made a game of guessing how much each meal cost on the road. We may or may not have opted for ice cream for dinner because that was the best option financially. (ahem).

We also played the license plate game and found all the states except Delaware, New Hampshire and West Virginia. We talked about the capitols of all the states and talked a little about what states were close to other states. A friend of mine made a copy of the map of the United States and had her kids find the states on the map.  I wish I had thought of that but I didn’t. Then they would understand there really is no state called Idakota.  But I think its kinda cute she thinks that.  She will learn soon enough.

They were actually quiet and awed when in the presence of moose. They were within reach of a buffalo, but I wouldn’t let them touch it. They wondered for days what it would have felt like. They became eagle eyes and could spot a goat on a little ledge on the side of a mountain. They summited a mountain and knew what it was like to be on top of the world. Two of them loved it, but one didn’t and learned that, for now, she felt safer hugged by the valley.

They may not be super enthused to be back at school, but they are tan and sun kissed blond and healthy and had smiles on their faces this morning. They were outside every day this summer, but they also vegged in front of the TV many afternoons. They all took actual showers for the occasion..... in our house, not in the lake. We spent time on the lake and at many sports. We spent more time than ever together as a family since Daddy was out of work this summer. I hope they remember it as a good one.

We will do our best in school this year but it wont be perfect.  We know you want them to learn so much and you just can’t do it all in school. I know you don’t know how to respond to me when I say my kids may not always complete their homework. Please try to understand we still want to spend quality time with them. And they are playing some sports, which we think is good for them. But if they tell me they want to go fishing or play outside with friends or lay on the grass and watch the stars..... we will probably say go for it. Especially while the weather is still nice.  We also think its important they get enough sleep. Since they already spend 7 1/2 hours doing school work, we are trying to help them learn balance in their lives.  Don’t worry - they will learn accountability and responsibility.  We believe in that-- but we have lots of values we are trying to teach them while they are young and  there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Finally, one of our biggest goals is to help them find their passions. Most of the time, they will all do exactly what you ask of them. If you ask them to read for so many minutes or so many pages, they will probably do it.  And they will stop right at that minute or right at that page. They have dyslexia and don’t enjoy reading; it is really, really hard for them. I would love to see them loving something they are doing; something where they lose track of time and pages and exactly what is assigned. Chaucer spent three years on and off trying to write to infinity. While this may have seemed ridiculous and we could tell him over and over it wasn’t possible, I remember when you gave him extra credit and excused him from his regular homework for him to work on this ridiculous task. Did you understand what you were doing? That he was learning to find and explore and be passionate about something? How did you understand his fascinating relationship with numbers and space? I love how you supported him like that.

So, here they are, with all their imperfections. I give them to you with a prayer, a bit of a sigh and a few tears. I’m excited to see what they are like when you give them back to me next June.