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  • Writer's pictureTina

Decisions, Decisions

As the spread of this virus slows, we are preparing to move forward. This year, my bean will enter the seventh grade and move to high school. This is a big year because the two elementary schools converge, and two classes become one. This will be a year of social change, more independence, and a variety of new teachers. This should be a year filled with exciting new adventures and life experiences. Hopefully, the bean will develop new friendships, learn to balance school and extracurricular activities and grow intellectually. The Bean is cautiously excited and a bit nervous, which is natural. However, Jordan has what I refer to as a stormtrooper attitude; she goes in, she does her job, she kicks butt, and calls it a victory. I should be excited for this next chapter in her life, but I find myself more reluctant than excited.

We opted for the cyber school option last year. Overall, it was a successful year. There were a few areas of disconcertment, but overall cyber school went well. Jordan earned straight A's, she liked the content, and she enjoyed the relaxed schedule. Eric and I enjoy having her around. I've said it before; I genuinely like my kid. I know she is mine, and I may be biased, but I find her conversations intelligent and interesting, even the ones about Stanger Things. She is funny, she is adventurous, she is creative, and she is quick-witted; these are all qualities I enjoy in a friend. So, why are we not doing cyber school again, you may ask?

Eric and I both have a background in education, and there is a fundamental belief that she needs to be in a school environment. Although I am endlessly cool, and Eric is like hanging out with an oversized bald twelve-year-old boy, we can't offer her the social interaction she craves. She needs to make friends outside her mom...sigh. I have been around young people who have had alternative educational experiences, and they can be socially awkward. I have also been around some really great, outgoing young people who have a greater sense of self and are more socially adept than most adults. I believe my bean fits into this category. She is a gregarious little thing. However, I don't want her to miss out on any experience or have regrets.

Eric and I enjoyed the active participation in The Bean's education. It was fun and sometimes challenging to work as the facilitator of her coursework. We both played active roles in her education. I took the responsibility of English, reading, and social studies, while Eric took on the duties of math and science. I enjoyed teaching her the writing process, research skills, and creative writing. We read a novel together and discussed the plot, characters, theme, and writing style. I got my teacher fix without having to create lesson plans or build a curriculum. Eric enjoyed sharing his love of all things mathematical, don't allow the bibs to fool you; he's secretly a huge math nerd. Yes, there were daily battles over the use of calculators, thinking things through with logic and not shouting out random answers, and of course pinch wars, but he enjoyed working with her in a teacherly role. However, having a variety of teachers with varied personalities teaches one to work and get along with others. It is practice for the adult world and the workplace.

We all enjoyed the relaxed schedule, flexibility, and freedom cyber school offers. Beginning school at nine and having all coursework completed by two was a good thing. Knowing that we could go on an outing or watch a movie and still have time to complete school was terrific. If she wanted to go to her GramBarb's house for a day or a week and work ahead to complete school, so she didn't have to concern herself with schoolwork was awesome. However, I fear it is not setting a good example or preparing her for her future. Yes, she learned time management skills and had to be disciplined enough to stick to her self-created schedule, but we don't always have the opportunity to set our own schedule. There are times we have to adhere to a schedule assigned by others and learn to work within those confines. The Bean argues that Eric and I set our own schedules, choose who we work with and what we will complete. I remind her that it has just been in the last few years that we have had this luxury.

As I read over this, I am not doing an outstanding job arguing in favor of the traditional school experience. The Bean and I have come to a tentative agreement. We agree she will try going back to school for the first semester. If she does not care for the experience, she can finish the year with cyber school. She seems pleased with this compromise and takes comfort in knowing she has options. Knowing one has options makes a world of difference. Sometimes, I am amazed at how very much alike we are in character and personality. Whatever happens, I am confident my little bean will be successful and grow from the experience. These days are filled with hard decisions, but I am so grateful I have the opportunity to make them with her. As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, make the hard decisions, and please decide to keep washing your hands.

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