Today my children all return to school. This year, I have two left in Elementary – one of them in his last year there – and one in Middle School and one in High School. With four boys in three different schools its going to feel like a second job for me to keep on top of their schedules, deadlines, requirements, and commitments.
Every new year of having my kids in American schools has brought with it new challenges for me as a parent. Between technology developing too rapidly for my grey matter, the generation gap, and a vocabulary gap because of being British, it can be difficult for me to understand what a homework assignment even requires the kids to do. I do a lot of googling and watching demonstrations of methodologies on YouTube. This year, however, with one kid in High School, I feel like I am in for an even steeper learning curve than ever before.
My oldest and I attended a High School induction day a couple of weeks ago and that revealed to me how out of my depth I was. I went all the way through High School, an undergraduate degree, and a postgraduate degree, and I then taught High School. I am, therefore, well versed in education and the transition between primary, secondary, and tertiary education. In Britain. When it comes to how all of this functions in America, I have next to nothing. And I had better learn quickly because the years are rapidly flying past.
The talks that were delivered at the induction event involved a huge amount of assumed knowledge. Acronyms were being bandied around with no allowance for anyone, like me, who had only a scant idea of what they stood for, what concepts they represented, or how they pieced together into something coherent. What I think I grasped, however, is that there is a through-line from the beginning of High School to its conclusion that will determine prospects for tertiary education. Yikes. I thought I had a couple of years to figure this stuff out. Apparently not. So I need to hit the books myself now and get on top of such things as GPAs, SATs, ACTs, credits, dual enrollment, AP courses, and all of those other things I am clueless about.
This new experience, this new area of life I need to research, is another stark reminder that my adult life and experience was all but reset to zero when I emigrated. Whole areas of my knowledge were voided and made irrelevant and – even after nearly four years of living in America – I am still a stranger in a strange land trying to fill those gaps in knowledge with new learning. I am an old dog so new tricks are hard but I will work hard to understand what I need to know.