This upcoming week is final exam week, or as they call it here "District Assessments" for my 6th grade son James. Originally James was supposed to begin homeschooling with FLVS like his older sister, but when we moved to this new area in Florida, we discovered that 6th grade is part of the elementary school program. Since his little sister was going, we thought it would be a good idea to have them both attend the same school so they could make some friends and we could meet some parents and get to know the community. James was not thrilled with this new change in plans, but we convinced him this would be a good thing so he complied with little protest.
James is what most people consider a good student. By that I mean he takes his work seriously, gives a solid effort on assignments, completes homework without much complaint or assistance and has no discipline problems in the classroom. He gets ready by himself in the morning and keeps his work organized and neat. He's been honored for being a "Crane with Character" and always makes the honor roll earning several "outstanding" marks in the achievement categories. This kid really is the model student. Given this description you are probably assuming this has been a great year for James. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case. I don't think he would say he "hates" school, but clearly he'd rather be anywhere else. It's boring, the work is drudgery, PE is only once per week, recess is terrible cause the jock's own the basketball court and there's nothing else to do, you can't sit where you want at lunch (sometimes you can't even talk), school starts at 8:00 so getting up at 7:00am is hard, and the list goes on. Nothing insurmountable, but clearly not ideal. The one area we had hoped would be good, finding new friends, turned out to be the worst. Every day he comes home with new "vocabulary" words he's learned or more dirty inappropriate jokes. Thankfully he's the kind of kid who tell me things otherwise I would have no idea. Bottom line, he doesn't want to be around kids who swear, drink Monster (and maybe worse) and tell crude sexual jokes all day. I don't blame him!! I've considered pulling him out several times, but we had prayed for this school, friends, and his teachers before he started and I kept thinking, God is faithful. He knows what is going on and will use it for His good purpose. Every day I asked myself, is this adversity a good lesson for him or do we protect him from it?
Fast forward to the end of the year. We are now 10 school days away from saying goodbye to public school. He's studying hard for his finals but is not happy about doing it. Not many kids are I'm sure. I do want him to finish strong, and I'm proud of him for not caving or lowering himself to the poor standards set by the students he has been around all year. I am sad that he lost some of the innocence he had at the beginning of the year. If he had been home, I know this never would have happened (at least at this time in his life). Maybe later, but not now. So much for thinking elementary school would protect him from what we fear happens in middle school. So much for thinking his teachers (who we actually liked) could inspire him beyond the forced curriculum and incessant test taking. So much for thinking he would end up with a posse of friends who he could look back fondly and remember. This will go down in the books as another school year endured not cherished. And for this I am sad.