To start, school is going okay thus far. The kid is finishing up week 3 and things are okay, not great, but a hell of a lot better than last year. We're working on it and I'll take it for now.
I attended the parents' night last week and we got an assignment I've been dreading. The kid is to make a family tree. There are a couple of reasons why I haven't been looking forward to this.
The first - and really biggest - is I just don't understand the reason for it. Be assured I've emailed the teacher and am awaiting her response to answer this question. I'm hoping it will help give us some direction to take. She's a veteran teacher, so I'm certain the kid isn't the first kid she's had with adoption, or another "non-traditional" family dynamics/compositions. Because the 2nd reason I'm not loving this is that I'm uncertain how to proceed.
First, I just don't get the reasons for this whole thing. I mean, why??? What do children learn from this project. A friend suggested that it is about helping children learn about their own placement in a family, which can be a building block to understanding the structure of society as a whole. That makes sense. However, I still don't think this is an appropriate assignment; this could be taught in a different way.
Families look so different and many won't fit into the traditional "family tree model". There are an infinite ways for families to be composed in addition to the biological mom/dad/2.5 kids approach. There are blended families with step-parents/kids. There are single parent families where the other parent may or may not be known to the child. There are grandparents or other relatives raising children. There are children in foster care or residential facilities. There are children who may or may not know who their biological fathers or mothers are - due to adoption, being conceived as a result of rape, being conceived with donor eggs and/or sperm, or a myriad of other reasons.
Now, because the boys' adoptions are open, and we've had them since birth, we have some of the biological family history. However, it's quite limited, particularly for the kid. So this further complicates matters (if he does want to include his birth family, that is - which I will very much encourage him to do, but, in the end, it's up to him).
I've seen suggestions of using a roots approach (i.e. putting the birth family as the roots and the adoptive family as the branches). But I really - I mean, really - dislike this idea. To me, when I think of roots, I think of something that is hidden under the ground and not seen.While they're vitally important to the tree, I'm not okay with this being where the kid's birth families are put.
Additionally, to me, roots seem like referencing the past. And the boys' birth families are not just a part of their past. They are a part of their present, and hopefully a part of their future.
I do like the idea of using either hearts, leaves, or hands (as leaves) on a tree (no roots of course). Then the kid can write the names of family members and other important people he wants to include. I also like the idea of a big puzzle, with the names of different important people/family members on each piece.
I think what I need is to have some ideas, a few suggestions for the kid on a starting point. Where he decides to go with this is obviously up to him. But I need to get comfortable with it before I can even present it to him. Because the last thing I want is for HIM to be uncomfortable with it.
You have any experience or ideas about this project? I'd love, LOVE to hear (well, you know, read) them!
Today's Lesson: First grade is when shit gets hard, y'all. Man. Or maybe it's that it continues to be hard, just in a different way. Okay, re-framed lesson of the day - parenting is hard.