Do you remember them as fondly as I do?
The first day of school each year?
Oh, the smells of new notebooks and pencils and books. The untouched notebook, still brand-spanking new. The quiet hush of the early morning, rising before the sun. We never got up that early during the summer. Well rarely anyway. Breakfast on the table, Mama standing in the kitchen. Daddy sitting at the end of the table, reading a bit of the paper and finishing his morning bowl of cereal or slab of pound cake with peanut butter or big ol’ bowl of grits. Waiting to drive us to our respective schools. Hugs from Mama, wishes for a most excellent day, instructions to be our very best selves, packed bookbags and lunchboxes and out the door.
New schedules. Homeroom teachers. Fingers crossed we’d be in the same classes with our best friends. My least favorite year was the one where we stayed in the same room all day and the teachers changed rooms. I found out then how important it was for me to be able to visualize the classroom to remember assignments. It didn’t work so well that year, with everything in the same room. I don’t know what kind of experiment that was, but I’m thinking the teachers probably weren’t too crazy about it either. It was only that one year we did that. I can understand why.
Four years ago we made the decision to homeschool our Princess. After lots of talk and thoughts and meditating on it, Aub came to me two days before public school was set to start and said she’d made up her mind. She wanted to be homeschooled too. Wow. Okay. Monday found us at the school withdrawing her from the school system, and Tuesday found me handing her a stack of books, saying “Read.” For some reason I had it in my head we needed to follow the public school schedule. As curriculum was ordered and we waited, she read and read. And then we began in earnest. It was a good choice for us. If for no other reason (though there were many), it gave us freedom. Just a few weeks after we started our homeschooling, Daddy went into the hospital and didn’t come out for six weeks. The year he was diagnosed with lymphoma. We were able to throw books in the car and go. I’m so thankful for that.
That FIRST first day of homeschooling though? I had no clue. I was winging it. Fortunately Kindergarten and 8th grade are not easy to mess up. But still, that first morning I was a little nervous. I pulled out the parachute I’d gotten, and we played games to start our day before we dug into our new texts and reading material. I think back to those parachute games and see how far we’ve come.
Oh we have a long way to go, but we’re getting there. Little by little. Year by year.
Tomorrow is our first day of school around here. Early? Yes. Crazy early? Possibly. But here’s the thing. One year I was so overwhelmed with schooling and everything else that I didn’t get to really enjoy December, the festivities, and all that is beautiful in that season. I didn’t get to ponder Advent and anticipate Christmas. It was all a blur. Each year since, I’ve had as my goal to be able to take off most or all of December from our diehard lesson plans. (We never really put the learning down, but it’s nice when we have the opportunity to relax a bit.) So once more, I’m attempting it. We’ll see how it goes.
And so. Tomorrow.
Tonight I’ve been going through my materials, resources, and books once more. I’m excited. For the first time, I’m pulling things from different curriculums and putting together my own plans. It was somewhat inspired by our trip to the Mouse House and travelling around the world, all in one afternoon. So this will be something of an “Around the World in 180 Days,” I suppose. For whatever reason we’re starting with Australia. I have books that describe the lives of children in different countries. We will have passports and look at maps and prepare foods from different cultures. Our science studies will revolve around the wildlife of the different countries and continents. We are starting with some Australian “bush music” and some aboriginal art. I have stories from Australia for us to read aloud, in addition to our reading “Swiss Family Robinson” together. Oh, it’s just too much fun. Especially now that they are both reading. I think my college sophomore may even enjoy being with us the next few weeks as we travel and learn.
What’s that? Math? What are we doing about that?
*sigh* You had to ask, didn’t you? It’s not a favorite subject for either of my littles, especially not for our Princess. But this is the year we are going to conquer that disdain and make it another subject we can’t wait to jump into. I have some interesting books to start us out. One thing I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling is if one curriculum isn’t working, there’s another one that will. Ask questions, get samples, try try again. Sister taught me that. She believes in test runs and returning curriculum during the grace period if it doesn’t click.
So yes, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic. All covered. And then the really fun stuff. Travelling in our minds to places far away. Nature studies. Reading Shakespeare for the first time. Oh I’ve got an ambitious year mapped out. The enthusiasm and excitement are almost palpable.
But then again, it’s just July. I have a sneaking suspicion that when October rolls around, we might be dragging a bit. (But wait, that’s Fair time–FIELD TRIP!)
Time for me to call it a night, y’all. I have another first day of school to put in the books tomorrow.
Here’s to fresh beginnings and the excitement that comes with them. Love to all.