There is a paragraph in Harlen Coben's book Darkest Fear that struck me: "School removes children from their warm parental cocoon. School teaches them to bully or be bullied. School teaches them to be cruel to one another. School teaches them that Mommy and Daddy lied to them when they told them they were special and unique."
I had a converstation with a friend the other day, while enjoying a restaurant meal with our combined 5 kids. It was a lovely meal, the kids were prefectly behaved and everyone had a good time. She was sharing with me that one of her friends told her she and her husband can't take their kids out to eat because they don't behave. This prompted a lengthy discussion about child rearing!
Kenny and I have always taken our kids with us to restaurants, church, shopping...wherever. We explain where we are going and what the general parameters of acceptable behavior are, and we expect them to comply. For the most part, they have always been well behaved in public. And of the times we had to leave, it was usually because we had asked something of them they were not equipped to give. Either it was too late, we had done too much or they were just not in the mood.
This is the approach we take to schooling as well. My 5 year old was recently listening to her sister's geometry lesson and wanted to learn it also. I could not find any 1st grade geometry so I printed out a page on triangles. In one easy lesson she learned isosceles, right and equilateral triangles. The child can barely say the words, but she knows how to identify the shapes!!
My son has been going to the skate park @ Stotsky. I thought he was too little (48", 42lbs) but he has proved to be quite proficient. And I am very pleased to report that in our experience the older kids are watchful and respectful of the youngers. This is a lesson we strive for in our schooling. Olders yield to the youngers, what a beautiful picture to watch.
As we wind down our school year it is a time of reflection. What worked, what didn't, what books will we use next year, what trips will be repeat and what will we avoid. I really hate this time of year. Self examination is not my strong suit, and it is uncomfortable to admit my role in some of our schooling failures. However, I know that next year will be easier and better and I feel very blessed to be able to watch my children grow and succeed.