May starts off with two pretty important holidays. Teacher Appreciation Day is on Tuesday, May 7, and Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 12. This month, I want to celebrate the best teacher ever and the best mother I know, who just happens to be the same person: my amazing wife, Nicole. Nicole used to teach fourth grade. I know she’s the best teacher ever because even though she hasn’t taught at a school for at least eight years, former students and their parents still reach out to her. Sometimes they need advice, and sometimes they just want to thank her for the impact she made on their lives. Recently, I saw firsthand what makes her such a great teacher when Nicole started home schooling our son. THE BEST TEACHER I KNOW
heading to Hawaii for a few weeks on vacation. So, we decided to home- school Finn for the year. Our thinking? Well, he’s only 4. He should really just be playing and exploring the world around him. Let’s re-assess when he turns 5 and goes to a new school for kindergarten anyway. We never thought home schooling would go beyond his second year of preschool.
Well, Finn and Nicole both fell in love with home schooling. Nicole found an amazing community of home-school families in Orange County, as well as programs that essentially function like a junior college for home-school kids. These programs offer everything from cooking and Lego engineering to Spanish and traditional subjects, like math. Home-school is so different than what people imagine it to be. We often joke that home-schoolers have better social lives than most adults. The more we learned about home schooling, the more our family loved it. Fortunately, thanks to Nicole, we are in a position to give Finn a strong home- school education. The stuff she’s able to do with him is incredible. Nicole turned one of our spare rooms into a little schoolhouse for preschool classes, and she works hard putting together these incredible lesson plans! As an artist, she truly enjoys the creative aspect of teaching our children. She opens up her art programs on the computer and creates materials for the kids. Now they think she makes everything, which is amazing. She is a magical teacher wizard! Our kids wake up at the crack of dawn, so right now, Nicole does school with Finn for two hours in the morning before she starts work. In the afternoon, both Finn and Harlow do an activity (usually a science experiment, which is their favorite). We always laugh and say our kids are definitely living their best lives. Both Finn and Harlow beg Nicole to do school every single day. Around Valentine’s Day, Nicole connected with other home schooling parents for this big project where all the kids got to send Valentine’s cards to each other all over the country. And in Continued on Pg. 3 ...
When Finn was 3, he attended one year of preschool. We sent him to school to frolic in the mud, paint, and play make- believe with new friends. When this past school year started, his preschool moved him into what they call “transitional kindergarten.” Finn had just turned 4, and all of a sudden, the school had him writing letters and doing worksheets.
Our kid, who was so very passionate about learning, was suddenly resisting even touching a crayon to color. It was clear that the school was pushing the kids too hard, focusing on academics before even teaching the children the basics like proper pencil grip. Nicole wasn’t happy. She wanted Finn to be a child and be able to play and explore. But the worst thing came when we found out a group of 4-year-olds was intimidating and scaring Finn. When Nicole and I went to talk about it with the school staff, we were told our son needed to be more resilient and that “boys will be boys.” Finn was really brave at school and would hold it all together while there. However, we didn’t like seeing our son cry, sometimes for hours, the moment he got home after trying to keep it together at school all day. Finn had also been dealing with some health issues that were making him unwell. He was about to undergo a second surgery to remove an infected ear tube that had been placed a fewmonths prior. On top of that, we werecasebarnettlaw.com
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