Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaching Cinderella

"Caley! Your turn." It's our morning routine. The boys get started on their own, I work with Lillie Grace, and round out the morning with Caley. I had just finished with Lil and had gotten her started on her own and now it was my baby's turn.
"Not Caley, Cinderella, Momma." In walked the cutest, curliest Cinderella complete with click-clicks, fashion accessories, crown, and purse.
"Why hello, Cinderella! So nice of you to join us this morning. It just so happens we are working on the first letter of your name...." and so it went. I taught a complete phonics lesson to Cinderella, reviewed skip counting by twos, and sent her on her way to the "cellar" to finish up some math.
When we started Kindergarten with Logan 8 years ago, I would have never allowed Cinderella at school time...and not for the simple fact that Logan would have never dressed up in girls' clothing...but because I was, at that point, too concerned with school "looking like school." We utilized our desk table most of the time, had plenty of "seat work," I even think I made him raise his hand that first year. Ridiculous, I know. I was so nervous taking on my child's education, even his Kindergarten one. I was so focused on the what and the how that I never even noticed the "him." It's not that Batman never showed up for school, I just never let him in. My thinking was that he needed to be serious about his learning and how can he be serious dressed up as a cowboy? I poured over scope and sequence, teacher curriculums, and milestones he should be meeting that I completely overlooked the fun, the imagination, and the joy. I grew quite a bit that first year of teaching Logan. I eased up quite a bit too, it was slow, but it happened. Toward the end of Kindergarten when a knight in shining armor (or plastic) showed up, I admired but quickly piled it up on the side for "after school." By the middle of first grade, an Aggie football player showed up. How could I make him take THAT off! Only the helmet was pushed to the side. By the time Cole was in Kindergarten, Batman reappeared and we read about fruit bats that day...with the mask still on. And by the end of that year, I was all about guessing as to which character I would face...with a smile. Since then I have taught Batman several times, a ballerina, a Marine pilot wannabe, Snow White, a Marine policeman, a little mommy and her set of triplets (whew, she had her hands full!), a fireman, Tinkerbell, an Indian, Minnie Mouse, and a host of other dress up characters. Recently I even had a camo ninja drop by. I have enjoyed my guests for school so much since that first meeting of Batman so many years ago. We have laughed, researched something new because of it, tried our best at changing our voices, and enjoyed a twist in our day.
School in our house never looks the same. People stop by, activities happen, plans change, and we adapt. But even when we have a full day at home, "school" never "looks" the same when visitors appear to learn. I love seeing their imagination and the fun being someone different brings. I am allowing them to still be kids. And the funny thing is, when their schoolwork demands they be more serious, they are no longer dressing up anyway. The days of Batman are long gone.
So today, instead of teaching Caley, I treasured teaching Cinderella.