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To Mary Claire, Our First Grader

2011 June 10
by Pamela

Dear Mary Claire –

Today you finished taking the SAT, a 90 page (!!)  test you worked on over the course of three days.  You are too young to get nervous about tests and even though you didn’t complain or whine about it once, we could see how exhausted you were at the end of each day.   But you were so motivated to get the test done because it would make you an “official 1st grader”.   It helped that you would become “official” as soon as you finished the test and your chief friend/rival Megan wouldn’t finish kindergarten for another week.   I wonder if that rivalry isn’t what propelled you to try so hard.

I can’t begin to tell you how proud Daddy and I are of you.  You have worked so hard this year.  Some of your subjects, like Math, came naturally to you.  But others, like Phonics, you really had to diligently practice.  Hearing you read still makes me teary-eyed.  And to know you are reading at a beginning 1st grade level when you weren’t even scheduled to start kindergarten this year is such an accomplishment for you.  I have really seen a depth of spirit and determination in you to persevere when the learning was difficult and I am so pleased to see a vision of the person you are becoming.  At the beginning of the school year you were so easily defeated and ready to quit.  But now I can see you digging within yourself to muster whatever it takes to complete your work. 

So much of kindergarten was about introducing topics and experiences to you.  We know that some of it won’t stick with you for long, but we loved opening the world up to you in ways and getting to see through your brand new eyes.  I have two regrets about this year and one is that I wish that I could have given you a broader range of opportunities.  Being pregnant hindered my energy and made things like, oh leaving the house, seem insurmountable.  I also know that I wasn’t always as patient and understanding as I want to be with you.  Thankfully I will have next school year to work on both, God willing.

Since this journey will mostly be long-gone in your memory by the time you can read and understand this, I wanted to remind you of some of the things we did together.

You completed 165 lessons in Math and scored 93% in your Math assessment.  You learned to write your letters and to count to 100.  Here is your handwriting at the beginning of the year:

You memorized seven Bible verses and the sign language to one of them.  We also read through the Jesus Storybook Bible once and are half way through with a more in-depth children’s Bible now.

You took some great classes at co-op, including Math and Literature Connection, Hands-On Science, Art, and Physical Education. 

You performed in front of an audience as the planet Uranus, signed John 3:16, and sang in the children’s choir for Christmas. 

We spent lots of time at park days with our homeschool support group and had tons of playdates and outings with friends.

You had a field trip at Mancino’s Pizza Parlor where you got to tour an industrial kitchen and make your own pizza.  We also went to Greenfield Village with the co-op and had special holiday parties.

You saw a real reindeer at the Plymouth Ice Festival, picked pumpkins at the apple orchard, toured the Wyandotte Historical Museum, and rode a horse and fed goats at a farm. 

We also went to the park to do nature studies, grew butterflies, sprouted beans and planted them, and you grew your very first garden with the help of your Bachi:

I read 17 fantastic chapter books with you, with topics covering Johnny Appleseed, to the Egyptian pyramids, to the hiding and protection of Jewish children during World War II.  You read five books to us, three of them chapter books:  The Red Hat, The Tug, Up the Hill, Sing Song Sid, and your very first book “A Pig in a Rig”.

You saw three plays this year, two of them with your Grandma.  You also saw your first ice show.

But as much as this post is about what you learned and experienced this year, I think I learned as much as you did.  Although your education was academic, mine was mostly spiritual.  So much of what I learned was about God’s grace, how He can carry us and equip us to do what we never knew possible.  Thank you for letting me learn beside you.  Thank you for believing in me when I wasn’t entirely able to believe in myself.  I so appreciate the way you just assumed I knew what I was doing.  Your trust in me really pushed me to rise up to your belief in me. 

Daddy and I love you so much and are so proud of our 1st grader.  You did it!

Photo by Michele Maloney Photography

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Karin Bentley-Kozlo permalink
    June 11, 2011

    Wow! This is beautiful and heart warming. Parenting and education are such amazing journeys. Combining the two must be an unforgettable experience. This is a a wonderful tribute to your daughter.

  2. Diane permalink
    June 11, 2011

    Such a sweet post! I have so little to show for my kids’ school years Right now I am putting together something for my second oldest’s graduation. I wish I had done something like this! But, alas, I didn’t. :) I do have a few things, though, and they are more than precious to me.

    • Pamela permalink*
      June 18, 2011

      Wow, thanks for leaving this comment Diane. I just wrote this b/c I was feeling sentimental. But now I’m thinking that this is a great tradition to start thanks to you!

  3. Joyce Hansard permalink
    June 11, 2011

    What wonderful memories you are making and storing up for your family. God bless you and your family.

  4. June 11, 2011

    I know I’m getting old because I tear up at our National Anthem and memorable posts by a loving mom who reminds me how fast all those years went! :)

  5. Paige Lloyd permalink
    June 11, 2011

    What a wonderful, inspiring post! Sounds like you & Mary Claire had a great year! You are inspiring me to do something for my daughters for each year. Maybe keep a running notebook w/photos, actual papers they write, etc. and have a one-page letter I write to them for each year, going over the year, some things they learned, and ways we both grew through the year. Only issue is we school year-round with no regard for the “traditional school year”, so I’d have to figure out when a year would “begin” and “end”. : ) Hmmm….getting the creative juices flowing!

    • Pamela permalink*
      June 18, 2011

      Thanks Paige. Funny, I only wrote it b/c I was feeling sentimental at the end of our first year. But after Diane and you commented, it made me think that this is a way to chronicle our years together. We are homeschooling year around as well, but we ended our books in May and are starting new curriculum in July so this feels like the end of K for us. If you think of any other ways to record your time, please let me know.

  6. jenny baugh permalink
    June 11, 2011


  7. kim heim permalink
    June 17, 2011

    What a sacrifice and committment on her mother’s part. This is what she’ll appreciate most in years to come!

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