In my last post, I wrote this for the “Friday” entry:
Today was supposed to be the last day of our Ocean-themed study and so we did some wrap-up discussions and writing.
I considered explaining in more depth and realized this final assessment and wrapping-up of our “ocean life expedition” deserves a post all its own.
So yes, we finished our “Ocean” unit. We have worked on it steadily since September, with a brief break for some travel and global-awareness themed study in November. My first feeling is relief. I am happy to be finished, I feel happy to be able to switch gears and tackle something new. I feel pretty good about what we accomplished.
Let me correct that last one.
As I have reflected more about what it is that we accomplished, what projects we completed and which books we have read, I am really very proud of it all. Sure there is plenty that we did NOT get to, there were plans and outlines I had to throw out because they didn’t suit after all, there were books we never got to and art projects we never completed, and sometimes I was just too tired to do as good of a job as I would have liked. That’s just normal, I am pretty sure, and I am happy to let those sort of disappointments or regrets go. I don’t even really care anymore–there is too much more out there to be excited about and move toward.
Last Friday, we went to the beach very briefly, just to kill some time and it occurred to me: we have done this so very many times since September (and before then, too). At the beach, without any research agenda or even a nature log. Without taking notes, without even needing to talk about it later. The kids play, or look for hermit crabs, or dig, or swim. Whatever they want.
They love the ocean. They love the seashore.
They also care about it, they know about how interconnected life in the sea is to every other part, and they want to preserve it— they want to protect the creatures whose habitats are threatened. They know more about who is working to do so, who the so-called experts are and some of what their jobs involve.
Sometimes I opted for more reading-for-pleasure than the Plan allowed for. At the time I wondered if it was the best use of time, but now I don’t regret any of it. The kids love literature, they love stories about sailors and fishermen, and folklore about the sea. They appreciate good writing even more than they used to, and they notice more about the writing. We all love books more than we did a few months ago.
As much as I am disinclined to judge myself, or them, in terms of a traditional report card, it is hard not to see that as a tremendous success.
Of course, there were other moments that did not seem as successful. That’s because they were not. I won’t pretend that everything I tried worked, or that I even worked as hard as I could have. I am only one single person and there is only so much I can do because there is only so much I have the energy or creativity, or spontaneity to come up with on the spot, to do. That is something that I have a hard time accepting sometimes, but it’s just what is.
As I look forward to June, I am tempted to think of cramming in as much as possible of crafts, and outings, and fieldtrips and so on. On the other hand, I am happy to leave those to the side and pile on the reading and moments of simple play and unstructured discovery. (I am often tempted to think in extremes.)
The kids are, most likely, going back to a traditional classroom this Fall. But when I feel the press of time and feel the urge to rush, I hope I can also remember that we simply can’t afford to do that. There is just too much fun to be had out there; I can’t waste time ruining any of it. I hope I don’t.