Urban Education


Summer brings a sigh of relief for me. I feel lighter, sleepy, warm. I’m just completely relaxed without the worry or pressure of carrying out our daily routine, maintaining learning standards…wondering if I’m good enough at balancing the schooling of a crew of kids. 

Learning certainly doesn’t stop for our family in the summer time, it just puts on a new skin…and its one I prefer to have wearing a swimsuit and be slathered with sunscreen.  When I’m ready to emerge from my first days (or weeks) of summer stupor, I start assessing how our homeschooling year went overall: what I loved, our successes, what I need to tweak…what totally bombed. I also try to get a special time alone with each of the children to ask them about what they think fits into those categories.

I  use this time to give them some encouragement about what areas of growth I have witnessed in them, what bright connections I see beaming from their minds and hearts and to create some goals about what aspects of their education we will tackle together in the new school year. 

It always surprises me to hear what the kids have held to be their favorite areas of study. What ‘sticks’ with them and holds meaning is often very different for each of them and certainly different than what I expect! Its usually the simple things, the unplanned conversations and investigating, the days where I feel like we haven’t checked off the boxes on my list, but rather read and talked and lost ourselves in history tales. This last year my children became New Yorkers and the education that has come from where we live alone, has floored me.

This year, the number one highlight for all of them was the confidence they have gained in navigating the city, in interacting with people they would not otherwise have had an opportunity to engage, in surfing a subway, hailing a cab, in sharing life and sidewalks with the masses. They have a glow about them when they talk about what they can do, a pride shining through at their conquering of fears and crowds.

My own belief in what they can handle and who they are becoming is increasing as we live in New York. I think back to my own teenage self, riding the Euro Rail, cautious not to miss a stop, heart pounding ever faster at the edge of the platform, excitement building with the squeak and roaring of the approaching train. It was a huge internal milestone I crossed then, feeling afterwards like I could conquer anything.

And so I keep thinking as my children share their journey of becoming city dwellers…what box might my small babes burst through after conquering the streets of New York? It is literally beyond my imagination. I’m just thankful for the journey and my prime seat to watch the rest of who they are unfold.