(Checking in for SPREE)

With just a nip of October chill in the air this morning, Katie and I headed to Murrieta for our first River Springs Charter School SPREE (Student and Parent Regional Educational Events) of the school year! Of the many reasons that we chose to conduct our homeschooling through River Springs, one of the greatest advantage is the chance to take classes and go on field trips with other River Springs homeschoolers. This morning Katie had a three hour class and I took a separate three hour class. We checked in, and then I took her to her room and I went to mine. No big deal, right?

Actually, it was…at least for me. Of the 4 years and 344 days that Katie has been out of my womb, there has never been a single time—not a single one—when she has been with a caretaker other than me, Bill, or my parents. That’s it. In all of her life, I have never hired a babysitter or left her for any length of time (short or long) with anyone other than the four of us. My brother David did watch her along with Bill for about half an hour when she was about a month old. There you have it. During the period that I went back to work for several months to finish out my commitments, my mom and dad watched her at their home, and I have entrusted both of my children to them on numerous other occasions.

Every other class we’ve ever had, I’ve been right there. In the same room. Following along, or just watching (as she got older).

I realize just how fortunate I am to have my parents so close, and how equally blessed I am to be able to stay home with my children and to be able to rely on people I trust completely. I’ve never had the gut-drop feeling that I imagine would come with having to drop my children off with people I don’t know well. It must be one of the most difficult feelings a mom experiences, and one that you are even stronger for having worked through.

(With Mrs. G)

Today as I dropped Katie off in her classroom, I had this little zap right in the very center of my body. I will not see her for three hours! I thought. Will she be okay? I had prepped her on what to do if she needed to use the restroom (ask a teacher for help, preferably during a break in the lesson), if she needed help on a task (raise your hand), what to do with her jacket (hang it over your chair). I took pictures, some deep breaths, and a large view of the situation. She was beyond excited, especially since one of her teachers was none other than our very own Mrs. G. As I lingered in the doorway after our kiss and hug, she was already highly involved in the excitement of the room. There was nothing for me but to go on my own way…and let her just be.

(Time to let her go do her thing)

I hurried to my own room and got focused. Every once in awhile I would get this flutter in my stomach as I thought about Katie and what she was doing. I was fortunate to be at a table of mothers who really know their stuff. Several of them had three or more children. Some of us had two. Some of the activities they shared absolutely blew my mind, inspired me, and impressed me. Incredible. That kind of achievement lights a fire under me. I met a woman named Hayley (three students, runs her own science labs, full of great ideas) is inspiration for what I hope to be doing in a few years. I love people who push me to want to be better.

Our seminar/workshop/class focused on better practices for teaching math. Our presenter, Gina, had me at hello. She is a credentialed, classroom-experienced teacher who has homeschooled her—wait for it—SEVEN kids, one of whom is now in grad school. She is now the Academic Achievement Advisor for River Springs. I enjoyed everything about her presentation style, and about her personally.

Gina gave us a shocking statistic, born out of their extensive research the past few years and work they have been doing to increase the API of River Springs: 33% of homeschool parents report not teaching math at all during the day in their homes. Wild, huh?

We had to make a sample lesson plan at our tables using the CRA method (concrete, representational, abstract) that modeled how to deliver a solid math lesson. My table nominated me to write and to present up at the front, so I felt all the sudden that I was back at TVHS. It was funny, because the other tables kept commenting on how straight and nice my handwriting was on the butcher paper. I guess I don’t think about it much anymore, because it took a year to develop that in my classroom (when I first started teaching, I wrote at a slant). I got to feel like Beth Cann today (hi, Beth! Beth is the producer of the most elegant and precise on-the-board writing I’ve ever seen, and her handwriting trumps mine by a mile).  Just being in front of a classroom again brought back so many happy feelings…

So I had fun. There’s always something positive during staff development, right? When Gina brought up Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, I had the biggest homesickness for my CSUSM cohort—the people I went to “teaching school” with so long ago (because I remember exactly how many of us were sitting when we first talked about that). In fact, I almost laughed out loud remembering some of our antics. I am always going to have a teacher’s heart, and I often miss my colleagues, especially those in this district, too…but right now that teacher’s heart is being given to my kiddos. I’m glad that I will still get some of the enjoyment of the bigger institution through River Springs.

And what did Eric do today? My dad, fresh off his half marathon yesterday, took Eric to Toddler Time this morning. They made a pumpkin during craft time and had a great time. I really missed being with Eric today, but he was in excellent care. Since they visited with my mom afterward, they actually got home after Katie and I did. When Eric came through the front door, he ran into my arms and gave me a huge hug and was eager to start telling about his class with Boppa.

What a great morning for all of us… and what a privilege it is to be my kiddos’ teacher.