When our daughter finished second grade, one of the words on her weekly spelling list was "ventriloquist". She's 29 now, has a good head on her shoulders, and did well in school. And back then, we were pretty sure that she was a genius ;)
So we weren't suprised at the end of second grade, when the school suggested that she be put into a 2nd/3rd "split class" the next year. We were told that as a self-motivated and successful student, the teachers agreed that she had that "something extra" to not only succeed in the environment, but that they thought she would help other students succeed in that environment too. Beaming with pride, we fully endorsed the plan. What could possibly go wrong?
In addition to the teacher's challenge managing the "split class", it was one of her first years teaching, and the class included five students who were either deaf or hearing impared. Clearer thinking parents might have grown suspicious that only a new teacher would take on so many challenges, and we might have grown even more suspicious when the other teachers offered up the best classroom in the building to this teacher; the large room with huge skylights and tons of natural lighting.
The year got off to a good start, but when our daughter's first spelling list that year included the words, "hill", "bill", and "will", we immediately did what any parent of a young genius would do in that situation; we scheduled a meeting with the principal. (I'm pretty embarassed to tell this part of the story. My only defense is that we were young, and we were trying to raise a genius ;) The principal masterfully calmed us down, and for reasons I can't even remember, we chilled out for the following eight months. I do remember thinking she hardly learned anything that year. I thought it at the time, and I think it now. Kind of.
The thing is, since there was a full-time intepreter in the class, she learned sign language. I claim she was fluent, at least back then, but she insists she was not. (And given that she minored in Linguistics in college, she should know.) We both agree that she knew enough sign language to host totally silent 24 hour sleep overs. While other parents complained they got very little sleep with a basement full of little girls, we slept like babies on those nights.
Fast forward 22 years. Our daughter is now an SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist) whose sign language skills are put to use on a fairly regular basis, and we learned a valuable lesson that parents concerned about their kids' learning right now may find valuable; It's hard to stop kids from learning. We all think we know what they need to learn, but sometimes we're wrong. Sometimes unexpected opportunities that are right in front of us, whether we see them or not, provide the greatest lessons of all.
As so many working parents are stuggling to juggle and navigate a new normal with their kids, it may make sense to ask yourself what valuable learning opportunities are presenting themselves within your own home right now? I know from experience it can be really hard to see them, but I also know from experience that they probably exist. Maybe they'll learn more about your work, maybe they'll learn to be more self-directed, maybe they'll learn about sacrifice, resourcefulness, or adaptabilty. While I have no idea what your kids will learn from this, I am sure they will learn something. And hopefully it will prove to be valuable in the future.
Do you have any thoughts or ideas to share on this topic? How are you coping? Let us know in the comments below.