Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fifth Grade

It's about this time of year that I start looking ahead to the next. In part because it's more interesting than anything else in February and in part because it helps me get a grip on how much I'm planning on spending so I can either earmark a paycheck for the goods or spread out the purchases. So far, here is what the Three Beacon Academy will be offering for the 2006-2007 school year:

Writing:
The Write Direction, Grade 5

Reading:
[Tk] (literature studies, Max is old enough to participate in picking these, we haven't gotten to that yet)

Math:
Saxon 7/6 (I don't know what those numbers mean. They don't have much to do with grade level.)

Spelling:
AVKO spelling (no new purchase needed)

Latin:
Cambridge Latin Course (no new purchase needed)

Health, Science, and History:
Harcourt textbooks

and at his request--French:
UN BON DEPART BEGINNER (beats me, but it looks fun)

It was another fun day of work as I'm back to working on the children's stories and poems that I'm supposed to be researching, so today I got to read, pausing only to look up a gajillion vocabulary words (to see if we'd used them yet, not because I'm confused about the meaning of "harken"). I also got to read a lot of Ogden Nash today and that's fun for any reason.

Max has hit his stride. Other than stubbornly continuing to grow at an alarming pace (which we used to call "shooting up" but apparently that's a no-no anymore. It's a shoot like a PLANT shoot people.) he's going through a delightfully cooperative and responsible period. (I've said it before, I'll say it again--fourth/fifth graders are magnificent people. More on that later.) He has opinions about his life, his friends, his activities, and he's not afraid to voice them. We talked about school options for next year. He made it clear that he wanted to keep homeschooling. Why? He thinks the public school down the road will be too big--too many kids in one class. That's valid, given the class sizes in which he's been successful.

That said, his drama class has a good dozen kids in it--maybe 14. It's pretty evenly half boys, half girls. I parked myself in the hall tonight and worked on a twin's sweater, but it was an uncomfortable bench so I stood and watched the last twenty minutes through the two-way mirror. I couldn't hear anything except John Denver over my earphones, but I could see that my son was attentive, involved, polite, and helpful. He jumped in and started handing out scripts to everyone at an appropriate time. It's been two and a half years since Max left first grade as an absymal failure at his private school. His academics were top but he'd been brainwashed to believe that not only was he a horrible excuse for a first grader but that he was INCAPABLE of behaving properly in a group-learning situation.

Shame on you, Mrs. Weinleader. Shame on me for making him finish out that year and not pulling him back at Christmas break when we first made the decision.

I could also see, through that two-way mirror, a pretty typical bunch of nine and ten year olds and I was reminded of how very much I adore this age. They are still awfully innocent. They have opinions and new muscles and height and thinking skills. They're making connections they never made before and they're thirsty for anything you have to teach them. But for just a tiny bit longer, you only need to give them the simplest of excuses to trust you. For a little bit longer you're still smart and funny and important. You're not the enemy yet. You're still part of the solution. It won't be long before you have to really work for that. You don't get it by default anymore. You have to show up and keep the lines of communication open by being the first to start talking--not by propping it open with good intentions. But not this year. For a little bit longer you're still golden. When I taught fourth grade I always felt so humbled by the astonishing amount of trust these people put in me. They were--all of them--hitting an age of opportunity. Kids who read only haltingly before coming in my class left it reading fluently. Not all, but more than you'd think. Kids who came in barely writing legible sentences left with a good solid three-paragraph essay and kids who came in writing three-paragraph essays sometimes left writing pages and pages and pages of fiction just for themselves. It's a year of astonishing growth and every year I'd have kids and parents willing to give me the credit. But it wasn't me. It was the age. It's a first bloom. The first few weeks of spring when most everythings is still bare but the trees and bushes are waking up and the buds are swelling and a few brave tulips poke through the last of the snow. That's fourth grade to me. It's just a hint of what's to come for each kid. Everything is possible.

1 comment:

Eliza said...

Saxon 7/6 = Saxon for normal seventh graders or advanced sixth graders (I think).

Beautiful post Alaska, very beautiful. You always put me back on the sunny side of life *kiss*.