Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Elliot's On a Roll

What an exciting time of year.  It's nearly the end of our second year of home education and so many challenges that started out rough are now coming together in a big finale. In September, after we worked with the idea of imagery and poem-making, diving deep into a beautiful book of poems called Cold Stars and Fireflies by Barbara Juster Esbensen, Elliot sat with his blank sheet of primary lined paper and thought.  After a little while, he wrote a poem about a day we spent with Emily at Wet n Wild Water Park in Greensboro.  That day was memorable for each of us, all for different reasons.  Emily injured her foot when she jumped into shallow water and I lost my glasses in the wave pool and had to be led around the park by Elliot like a blind person.  For Elliot, this day was picture perfect, and he was able to capture it in a few lines of poetry.  I remember hearing it said that children need to have lots of experiences outside their home in order to improve their language; they need to have something to talk and write about.  (Note to self: get out more, and maybe the writing here will be more interesting!)

I remember the day that Elliot and I discussed poem making.  It was probably my favorite day as his teacher.  It wasn't a forced experience for either of us.  We just sat outside in the golden autumn morning and I read the poems aloud.  Sometimes, he'd ask me to read them over again.  As he's matured so much this year, becoming more involved in playing with his friends and watching cartoons, it seems like our reading times have become more rare.  The last great work we read together was Charlotte's Web.

On to the good news.  Yesterday we received a post card in the mail stating that Elliot's poem Water Park is accepted to be published in an anthology of student poetry.  At first, Richard (ever the pragmatist) told me not to jump up and down because he wondered if it was just a ploy to get parents to buy books of poems, and that every student's poems are accepted.  I remember submitting his poem for consideration months ago, but had not worried whether it was a scam.  It turns out that the company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.  They also sent an email with instructions including a statement saying that this is an honor because most student's work is not accepted for publication.  Elliot's poem is also in the final competition and may still win a financial award.

When you are a home educator, little things like this matter because we don't always have a way to evaluate whether or not we are going along nicely, or failing miserably.  I don't count on results from a standardized test to tell me how we're doing.

So we're nearing the last week of school, and I'm feeling pretty good.  Things are not perfect, and sometimes my illusions get shattered, but this life is something I'm thankful for.  When I started out here, I never expected to be rich in friends and able to freely share my thoughts without the fear of harsh criticism.

Today, I'm savoring the happy moments.


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