We left our Spanish immersion school last spring. And we soon entered a world of online school that we have since combined with homeschool group activities and Spanish tutoring. And while we love most of this new routine and what it has offered our family, there is no formal Spanish component.
Tutoring is expensive. But continuing this journey of learning a second language (after four years!) is a must. And because our son is not using his second language on a daily basis (the absolute lack of any quality online instruction is a topic for another post!), I am watching his skills slip away. I am plagued with feelings of desperation and helplessness with the absolute lack of options out there. And while I can have our son read books and watch movies in Spanish, I can’t grade papers, help with grammar, or speak with him in Spanish. And at $45 per hour, the tutoring is limited to an hour a week. And we can’t do everything in an hour, so I was presented with two options when asked recently by his tutor, “What’s your end goal?”:
- Focus on conversation, conversation, and more conversation, or
- Focus on grammar, reading, and writing (like a language arts course).
So - What is our end goal?
Do I want him to be a proficient conversationalist in Spanish? Yes! Do I want him to use correct grammar, write well, and be ready for a (someday) Spanish literature or AP Spanish class? Yes!
And this got me thinking about an even more important question: What is my end goal as a parent?
I think as parents we can fret over too many little details: What sports do we let them play? Should we put limits on extracurriculars? Do we let them try every activity they want to at the expense of family time, vacations, and household harmony? What about cub scouts, 4-H, swimming, chess club, football, track, cross country, martial arts, music lessons, band, or <gasp> free time… All these have amazing benefits for kids. And what about all those optional academic classes – Kumon, Saturday Academy.
As parents, what is our end goal?
With our changes in academic environment last spring came some serious soul searching. But what was important to our family was never more clear:
We want a happy, caring, responsible, hard working, empathetic young man with an eye and heart for others around the world.
And with all the stress and fretting we do over our kids and how they spend their time, I wonder how much of it really matters? In our collective goals of raising young men and women who are ready to tackle the world with their optimism, passion, and endless young energy, are we missing the beauty of their childhood (the forest) through our own internal struggles (the trees)?
Of course, as parents want our children to be the best, the fastest, the smartest, the strongest, the most popular, but let’s also not lose sight of this: They are in the middle of the only childhood they will ever have. Let’s make sure they get to enjoy it.
And as for me, I am still figuring out what our second language goals are in the immediate term. But our long term goals have not changed. And as long as we don’t lose sight of those, I think we’ll be in good shape.