It’s the first day of our new homeschooling year. The books arrived two months ago. My son [TB] begged to open them and dig in. I’ve held off as long as I could until today. This evening, he’s half-way through the history text and well into high school geometry. To be honest, he got a head start in his online geometry last week. I couldn’t take the begging and whining any longer. While many boys his age read comic books – TB prefers primary source documents and accompanying essays.
Actually, that’s not our real life. It could be the first day for some of our closest homeschooling friends. It’s a first day commonly protrayed in social media with a glossy shine. It’s just not our first day and that’s ok. Homeschooling embraces who our children are and where they are while exploring and discovering where they want to go and who they want to be.
Let’s begin again.
As summer ends and first day of school facebook photos fade, we slowly sneak our way into homeschooling, beginning with a vigorous attempt to finish spring’s leftover Latin lessons.
This year, like others, we’re beginning slowly. We’ll tie up Latin’s loose ends, finish an audible Jane Goodall biography, and the final chapters of The Omnivore’s Dilemma – a book that started summer with high hopes and ended with poor follow-through. We’ve also started memorizing the presidents. (Aren’t we supposed to do that?) I found this cool presidents’ book with pictorial memory techniques. It’s already proven my theory on his learning strengths. I thought he was a visual learner. A 15-minute dentist office wait ended with the first 10 presidents successfully memorized. Validated before Labor Day. Score one for Mom.
Our newly inaugurated teenager misses back-to-public-school-already friends. With homeschool activities beginning after Labor Day, I use this to my advantage. No video games until 3:30pm and the boredom grows, creating space for school (i.e. Latin) to nonchalantly creep in.
This year, the biggest part of our “back to school” activities is scheduling. Secluding or protecting our kids is never a goal of our homeschooling. We’re all about experiencing and navigating the world. It’s a good thing, too. Living in Texas affords so many homeschooling opportunities: activities, classes, clubs, etc. Homeschooling is sometimes a misnomer — we’re rarely home. Especially now, baby introvert turned adolescent extrovert keeps me on my toes and at the gas station.
While some lucky ducks buy those aromatic new crayons, join PTA, and sign a million forms, I’m sketching out schedules and Amazon Prime-ing a couple last minute Texas history graphic novels. Oh, all right, they’re comic books – but educational comic books.
We started August by talking about what we should cover this year. We both agree math is important; we’ll do Texas History and some awesome Texas field trips with a friend; there’s grammar; spelling; world history Crash Courses (if you don’t know these, check them out, regardless or where or if you school); co-op classes and introductory Spanish. Technically, we didn’t discuss Spanish. Since he proofread this, el gato fuera de la bolsa. There’s Lego League, Odyssey of the Mind, and, of course, basketball with lots of stops to refuel – vehicles and bodies.
For us, there’s no big actual “first day” of school fanfare. We’ll begin our day a little earlier, feeding horses, dogs and chickens like every other morning. There’ll be homemade waffles – or a trip to Jim’s for breakfast. By the way, Jim’s has excellent wi-fi, roomy booths and they’re pretty cool with what I like to call “Cafe Homeschooling”. The coffee is always hot, fresh, and not too strong. TB swears the chocolate milk is da bomb, too.
In the past 14 years, we’ve had many different first days. When the girls were younger, we celebrated a new school year with pedicures, movies and a drive-by the local public school holding a Sonic Limeade in the air – simultaneously toasting their friends and enjoying their freedom. I knew part of this tradition and sweet memories took hold when I received this text from College Station last weekend:
Our first days morphed and changed through the years. Early on, new books, notebooks, and crayons filled our red Target cart. Ok, the crayons were for me. I love the smell, don’t you? As years progressed, we stopped stockpiling and simply used what we had. Handed down textbooks and the internet soon became part of school.
Homeschooling looked different for each child. The girls approached school uniquely. One needed everything clearly laid out. She completed a few years of Calvert Homeschool, did co-ops, and later chose to attend public high school. Another homeschooled second grade through high school. She particpated in co-ops, dual credit and attacked life in a more unschooling way. Both enjoyed horses and other activities. Today, one is a recent nursing school graduate, while the other works for Texas A&M EMS while attending college.
The last homeschooling child is a mixture with basketball and swimming replacing horses. Video games, Legos and dogs fill his days his dwindling days at home.
We’ve had a total of 15 homeschooling first days. New beginnings, dreams and hopes. Like most first days.
However your first day happened for you, I hope your transitions were gentle and the days ended serenely. Here’s to a year flying by all too quickly while our children grow way too much for this momma’s heart. I hope your first days bring or brought good things to you and your family. Savor the moments. Make some memories.