The number of things children will take from their school experiences is insurmountable. Even in my memory I can think back to every grade, every classroom, each teacher's quirks and systems. In addition to the education, I took with me hard-learned lessons in friendships. I took sparks of interest in history and theatre. I took encouragement from school staff and pressed on to become a socially conscious young adult.
Now that my daughter is completing her first year at our neighborhood school (see Duck, Duck School Part 1), I am seeing the things she is taking home. She takes home safety rules: "And renember, Mama, no running on the sidewalk, be-because that could cause an ax-did-dent."
She brings home homework. On most days she does pretty well in completing a few pages. However, the days when she struggles with focusing and refuses to color the six items that start with "s" are a bit more challenging. Thus this mama has come to develop the post-homework eye twitch due to simultaneous preschool homework assistance and field blocking my toddler from destroying said homework.
She also takes germs from school: flu, cold, pink eye, hand foot and mouth disease… I'm not sure how many classroom items are disinfected in the 30-minute gap between AM and PM classes, but I'm positive the AM kids get the better deal in the sanitization department! My daughter is not just exposed to her 20 classmates' germs, but probably the AM class's too.
In thinking about all this taking, I began to wonder about what we are leaving.
I left a small plaque in the school entryway, as did every sixth grader at Sonoma Elementary. I signed my name above a list of all my acting roles in the lighting booth in my high school auditorium. I left a gum collection on the inside of my locker. Do any of these things matter now? Do they have any eternal significance?
How can we teach our children to leave something more? What do we pray for them to bring into the classroom every morning? What if we taught them to bring forgiveness? Or empathy for others unlike themselves?
We are just starting this journey, but I am hoping to learn some ways from seasoned parents how we can start leaving a legacy with eternal deposits. Jonathan Edwards' prayer to "stamp eternity on my eyeballs" is my prayer for ourselves and our kids. As we continue this documentation of navigation through our neighborhood school, I hope to later share answers to this bold prayer!