Today was the day of our portfolio evaluations! This being our second year, I told the kids they are old pros now and don’t have to worry. Still, Noah was quiet all morning and though he was smiley, his eyes were big and round when the principal led us into her office.

I had hoped that the kids’ kindergarten teacher could be there. Zahra, Noah and Leila have all had Mme Chantal for kindergarten, and now we feel she’s almost a member of our family! Unfortunately, the schedule didn’t work out and she had a full class (including my Leila!) at our evaluation time; but we were greeted by Mme Nadia (the principal who was also Zahra’s beloved Grade 1 teacher) and Mme Josée (the resource specialist who we had met with last year), and so it was much more of a chat with friends than a formal evaluation.

Both kids went through their portfolios, page by page, as Mme Nadia and Mme Josée listened patiently to all their adventures. At the end, Mme Nadia wanted to know what the kids liked best and what they liked least about their year. I asked for their recommendations for a couple resources, and they commended us on our efforts.

I did notice that my kids had a bit more trouble expressing themselves in French than they did last year. It wasn’t mentioned, but I noticed. Noah would have been better able to convey what he had learned in English, and the depth of Zahra’s vocabulary and speaking skills in English didn’t quite transfer to her presentation in French.  Not only maintaining but also bettering the French they were immersed in before is a non-negotiable for me, so I will be keeping that top of mind moving forward.

And I have some ideas. We’ve already been invited back to give presentations in our favourite teachers’ classrooms. I know we can continue to volunteer in the school. The extracurricular activities will change back to the more affordable options. Not only could we participate in those, but we’re considering submitting a proposal to lead an extracurricular activity there ourselves!

We walked out of there ready to celebrate the end of our 2016-2017 homeschool year and the start of summer. We went out for lunch and did some shopping. We came home, and I gave the kids manicures.

Evaluation is a hot topic amongst homeschoolers, and I’m just very thankful for the relationship we have with our school. I think that École primaire de la Samare is a model for how educators in the school system can collaborate with homeschoolers. Because in any communication that I have with them, it is always that—a collaboration. They don’t grill my kids on their multiplication tables or historic dates; they ask them what they liked best and least about their year. They gave a cursory glance at our French and math workbooks, but they were more interested in talking and joking with my kids about their bigger learning experiences. When Noah told them about the books he likes to read, they had more suggestions for him. Mme Josée had her notebook out because, as she told Mme Nadia, we have a lot of good ideas. I asked them about the importance of cursive, and their reply was something I hadn’t thought about. When I told them that we had abandoned the Quebec history program in favour of world history, they were interested. When they told me what would be coming up in Grade 5 math at the school, they acknowledged that our programs didn’t have to be the same.

All this has me thinking… With the new homeschool laws on the table, now is the time for school educators and home educators to be vocal about the best ways to work together. I would be proud to speak out at conferences and meetings in collaboration with École de la Samare, if the opportunity arises.

Leila got off the bus this afternoon with her own “portfolio”. We flipped through it together, oohing and ahhing over her art work and talking about her friends. When we got to the picture of me and her working on her gingerbread house at school, she remarked matter-of-factly, “That’s the day that I threw up.” Memories.

And that’s the close of the only year when I’ll only have two kids at home. Next year, the little firecracker who stuck our project-based homeschooling supplies up her nose and in her belly button is back. And better than ever, I’m sure.