A Letter to My Children’s Teachers

backtoschool.jpgDear Teachers, My kids are so excited to start school this year. Really! My daughter wore her book bag around the house for a week prior to her first day of kindergarten.  And my son? Months before entering first grade he started planning the lunches he wanted to put in his new dinosaur lunch box.  And the fact that he will have recess this year? Words just cannot express his feelings. 

I’m excited, too! I can’t wait to volunteer in the classroom and work with you to help my children succeed in school this year.

However, you should know that despite our excitement, there will be a few bumps in the road.  We’ve had a wild summer, and settling into a routine will be difficult. In fact, there may be several behaviors that might make you think less of my kids in the first few weeks of school. These behaviors might even might even make you think less of ME as a parent – especially when you realize that I will NOT be apologizing for many of these behaviors. 

I’m NOT sorry that my son is going to have a hard time sitting still during the first few weeks of school. You see, this summer he rarely sat still. He was too busy running, climbing rocks, swimming, and riding bikes. He is such a curious, hands-on kid, and being still is NOT something that comes naturally to him. Although his limbs may have forgotten how to fold into his chair, please know that he is eager to learn.

I’m NOT sorry that my daughter will likely come to school on most days with her hair a tangled mess. You see, this summer we didn’t really have too much time to worry about how we looked. The tears and the drama that came along with nicely brushed hair just weren’t worth it. I also know that there will be way too many days in the near future that what her hair looks like and what she is wearing will be ALL she can think about. I’m just going to postpone that as long as possible.

I’m NOT sorry that my kids will be coming to school in shorts with grass stains, pockets full of acorns and rocks, and muddy shoes. You see, we walk 1/4 mile to the bus, and my kids are used to exploring nature. This summer they spent more time outside than inside. They threw rocks in lakes, slid down boulders, built forts in the back yard, and continued their quest to unearth dinosaur fossils in my front yard. They want to continue to do ALL of this during our ten minute walk to the bus stop. They really do start the morning in nice, clean clothes, but who am I to stop them when they find a worm or want to try to smash open an acorn? They are continually curious about the world around them, and I want to nurture that, not squash it. And, seriously, who can resist a good mud puddle!?

mudpuddlebiking

I’m NOT sorry that my daughter might spend the first few weeks of school looking out the window and up at the clouds. You see, this summer we slowed down and just watched the sky some days. We used our imaginations not electronics. We studied the clouds and saw fluffy white ducks swimming in lakes, kittens chasing balls of yarn, and dinosaurs escaping volcanoes. Don’t worry though. She’ll soon discover that what is happening on the board and on her papers is equally fascinating. She will soon understand that letters and words will allow her to use her imagination in ways that she never dreamed possible.

I’m sure there will be many others things that come up that I’m NOT sorry about. However, please understand that my kids LOVE school and can’t wait to learn. Be assured that my kids will be polite and respectful and eager to learn. Know that I am at home supporting your work in any way I can. We’ve just been learning a whole different way this summer, a way that does not necessarily fit into a traditional classroom. A way that I hope will produce lifetime lovers of learning. 

I hope you understand that the best students are going to get a little bit of both worlds. My kids will climb mountains, ride trails, and look up at the sky to dream, but they will still need someone to pull them back down from those clouds and teach them the ways they can go about achieving those dreams. You have the difficult, frustrating, and fantastic job of making that happen.

And for that, I thank you.

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Adventures in Pine Grove Furnace State Park

pinegrove1My daughter cannot manage to walk up the hill from the bus stop without whining, taking a break, groaning loudly, or just altogether stopping and refusing to go farther.

However, place her in the woods on a hot and humid summer afternoon (after five miles of bike riding!) and make her a hike a rocky trail with a steep incline and a pack of mosquitos hot on her tail, she is good to go.

Children are confusing.Read More »

5 Things I Learned in the Everglades

everglades4Recently, my family and I traveled to Florida for ten days. We spent the majority of our time lounging on the beach but managed to squeeze in some adventuring, as well. One of the highlights of our trip was a fifteen mile tram ride through Everglades National Park in Shark Valley. On our ride, we saw a variety of birds, alligators, snakes, and turtles. And, a lot of mosquitoes!  Part of the journey included climbing up a 65-foot observation tower for a birds-eye view of the “River of Grass.” It was stunning.Read More »

Locust Lake State Park and Pioneer Tunnel

Exploring Pennsylvania with Kids

Since we have been traveling to more and more Pennsylvania state parks and other attractions with our kids, I’m going to start documenting our experiences.  I don’t necessarily want to review each park or attraction, but just give a little glimpse into our experience. I hope others might find it useful in planning their trips or just getting a feel for the place. 

(I also really want to be able to remember this time with my kids because we are having SO much fun exploring new places and enjoying nature. I hope this love of adventure and appreciation of nature lasts a lifetime.)Read More »

The Lone Lily of the Valley

lily of the valley

Last year, I unexpectedly discovered a lone lily of the valley growing in my yard. Years before, I had planted numerous bulbs, but none had ever bloomed.

I recently had a piece published on Mothers Always Write about the experience of discovering the bloom and the memories of my mother it unleashed. Click this link if you would like to read it: Forgotten Flowers.

Update: I found two more this spring!

Do certain flowers remind you of people you know or once knew?