The day we decided to take all three of our children out of school to teach them at home was a scary day. It was a leap of faith. What if it doesn’t work? What if we hate it? What if they don’t learn anything and have to repeat a year of school?
The climate we had been living in was one of fierce competition. There was no room for failure. It was common for parents to help their kids by finishing their homework if swimming practice ran too late or help their children write papers if they had too many activities scheduled over the weekend. It was even common for parents to complete entire school projects for their busy children and then gripe about it to the other parents after dropping the kids off at school. It was not something parents were embarrassed to admit, not something scandalous at all. The general attitude was that this sort of help was necessary if the chi
ld was to succeed in all things. If every other kid was getting this kind of “help” from a parent, your child did not stand a chance competing solo. Letting your child fail and learn on her own was not an option, if you wanted success for your child you had to play the game. This mindset was more than socially acceptable among parents, it was socially expectable. Somewhere along the way it had quietly become the norm. Some parents would say, “What other choice do we have?”
There is always another choice. It may be a hard choice. A scary, hard choice. But there is always a choice. And so The Galileo School was born out of a desire to create an environment for our family that was not about competition. We did not know what our school was to become or if it would even work, but we knew from the beginning the principles on which it would be built: Curiosity, Kindness and Gratitude. Looking back on our journey makes me so proud. The five of us learned more about each other and the world than I had ever dreamed possible. It was truly an idyllic time of traveling the globe, creating works of art, sharing our innermost thoughts and questions, meeting with scholars, examining our place in the world, pondering our existence, making beautiful music and helping others. It was our Golden Age…for three incredible years.
When it was time for Payton to start high school our lives changed a lot. No longer were we free to decide when our day would start and end. Into our lives re-appeared the dreaded alarm clock. Curfews, deadlines, drop-offs, pick-ups, parent teacher meetings all followed like a clean up crew after a great party. Fun’s over folks. Jack started high school this year and our assimilation back into normal society is 2/3 complete. I am not taking it so well. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for Payton and Jack. They both chose wonderful institutions in which to continue their education and I am so proud of their independence and industriousness. But I still have a school to run and I am having a hard time with the transition. High School is cramping my style, majorly. Because of all my new-found responsibilities as a high school mom, the roaring fire of The Galileo School has been gradually becoming more of a low sizzle. And so I am faced with a dilemma: How do I balance The Galileo School with the return of traditional schooling into our lives? And what about Ava? This is a big change for her. She is feeling left behind as her siblings go off into the big wonderful world of subways and lattes. How do I create an environment of magic and wonder and freedom for her between the hours of 7 and 3? How do we re-ignite The Galileo School Fire?
No, that was really a question, how do we do it?
Here are some ideas we have:
1. Go to Spain. Ava and I are planning a trip to Spain at the end of the school year! We will be sharing all the details of this exciting process with you!
2. Read Don Quixote. With Spain as the centerpiece of this year’s curriculum we have decided to tackle the 900 page monster by Miguel de Cervantes. The story is about two people on a journey of discovery through Spain. Now Ava and I just have to conclude which one of us is the Sancho Panza in our story. We’ll keep you posted.
3. Start a Facebook Page. Speaking of keeping you posted, we plan to revive our neglected blog, start a Facebook page and an Instagram account so that friends and family can follow along, contribute ideas and suggest experiences!
4. Learn about Spain. We plan to study Spanish history, art, music, food and culture all year long. We will be posting about our studies and experiences!
5. Learn to speak Spanish. Wish us luck!
6. Continue our service projects. Our service projects have given us such joy and have helped so many. We are developing new ideas and reviving some old favorites.
7. Sports. Ava will be tearing it up on the court this year playing 7th grade Volleyball for Holy Child as well as for the Club team. She is also one of only 4 girls playing basketball for Holy Child in the 7th grade boys league.
So, Ava and I are choosing to make the last two years of The Galileo School just as fabulous as the first three. It is not the easy choice and we are scared of failing. But if there is one lesson we have learned from this experience it is that without change there can be no progress. We invite you to throw caution to the wind along with us on this new and improved journey and hope you will enjoy it as much as we will.
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”