An End-of-Year Arts Exhibition (+ some thoughts on schooling)

It's hard to believe the last day of school is here, as it seems a bit too close to those first day jitters from a few months back. I had the true pleasure of spending an entire day at my daughters' school yesterday, enjoying an exhibition of their artistic talents and academic development. Both of my girls' classes put on quite impressive shows!
Selby's class (3rd-5th) began the day with a "Biome Play" in the woods behind the school. As attendees walked along the trail, we encountered all kinds of animals found in a tropical/subtropical forest. From birds, to snakes, to big cats, to sloths, a variety of creatures visited with us and shared their stories. We learned of their habitats, scientific classifications, diets, behaviors, and more. Each child had researched an animal, created a costume, written and memorized a script, and then presented themself before a group. Impressive and wildly entertaining!
Back in the classroom, we had a visit from an incredible visiting storyteller, then the students hosted an "Imaginary Island Festival" where we toured themed islands and planned imaginary vacations! Each student stood behind their creation and presented a travel brochure, a hand-sculpted model of their island, and a packet of information that included a drawing of the island's flag; its square mileage represented on graph paper; illustrated maps of the island's location on the globe, its topography, and its biomes; an illustrated food chain; and cultural features. I visited Selby's Flip Tail Island, where you can swim with dolphins, as well as Bird of Paradise Island, Ice Cream Island, and even Zombie Island!
Finally, outside on the "main stage" may gal and some of her classmates shared their musical talents in self-created bands. This band (Selby is on the far right) performed a Taylor Swift cover with heartfelt preteen emotion! Earlier in the morning, Sage's preschool class sang "under the sea" songs that were a little more my speed...
To cap off this amazing day, the preschool families were invited to attend an Art Gallery Showing, featuring 19 artists (ranging from 4-5 years old)! I was truly blown away by the creativity, the range of mediums explored, and the presentation in itself. Here's a look:
The first thing you saw upon entering was a "wall of artists" featuring darling photos and sweet bios of each child. And then, every wall and surface was covered with works the children had made all year long. Displays of watercolor, oil pastels, pencil, acrylic, collage, and mixed media...
... as well as sculpture, ceramics, and even a group hand print painting up for silent auction!
Last week, each family had been asked to create individual self portraits as a family homework assignment. These had been artfully incorporated into a wall of "family trees"... here's ours:
Needless to say, I returned home yesterday with a full heart, and a resounding peace of mind that we had, indeed, found the right environment for my girls' home away from home. Which brings me to Part 2 of this (really long) post:

Some Thoughts on Schooling...

At this time last year, I was in the throws of making a very important choice to change the direction of my children's schooling. The decision was to take my eldest out of traditional public school after her second grade year, and to move my youngest from an all-play-based preschool we absolutely loved. Both girls were to transition to a small Montessori charter school in the fall. Yikes! Would we like it? Would it be the right learning environment for my "dreamer"? Would it be too regimented for my preschooler? So much was unknown, but I'd done my research and we were prepared to give it a whirl. I'm so glad we did...

My decision to change course has been reinforced again and again throughout the school year. I've measured the success of our choice not through grades or academic achievements (although progress in this area has been rewarding). But instead, through smiling faces, a strong love of learning, a growing sense of community, and the holistic development and celebration of my girls' unique selves. They not only love learning, they love belonging to a community where they are recognized for who they are. Despite the discomfort of the initial change of course, I now have complete confidence that our ship is sailing in the right direction.

It seems choosing schooling for our precious littles is harder than it should be, and more complicated than it once was. Homeschool, unschool, public, private, charter, Montessori, Waldorf... there are so many paths to explore. I believe no single choice is the "right" one... but one is the right choice for your family. If the schooling path your following isn't working, I encourage you to change directions and try something new until you find one that does. You'll know when you get it right... it will show in their shining, happy faces.


Gina said...

I just love the wall of artists and all of their amazing works of art! Thanks for sharing! :)

Rose said...

I, too, am feeling very confident in our schooling decisions lately. So happy with where we're at, and enjoying this wild homeschooling ride!

I think there as many choices as there are families, and I'm so glad you've found a place that works for all of you!

I'm really getting fired up about school this fall, since my girl will "officially" join our homeschool journey.

Even though we don't go to school, I definitely pause this time of year and look back at all the great stuff we have done and all the adventures we've had.

A lovely post, Liz. Thanks for sharing!

asavoryspoonful@gmail.com said...

This is so precious, I love this post so much! My favorite part is how much the drawinf of the family is so spot on, especially the drawing of Jeff...spitting image!!!! These girls are so special and zi know you are so proud of them, well done guys!!!

SwedeLife said...

I smiled when I read this, as we were feeling the same satisfaction with the same school. The chance to showcase the classes and the work was such a nice wrap up to the year, and left me with a really grateful feeling for this school.

Anonymous said...

I too loved your post!! I went to montessori as a child. My mom was a montessori teacher. My sister and I worked as classroom aides in a montessori school and I have continued to do so throughout the years. The part you said about a community is so true. Academics are important, but a sense of place and a feeling of a loving community is so important also. Love your blog! kerie