Our local school starts this week and all around us the conversation is about back to school meetings and shopping for supplies. Some moms are ready to have the kids back in school and some of the kids are ready to be back and see their friends. Others are sad to see the end of summer.
My personal feeling is, “I’m not ready for school to start.” Most people assume it’s because I’m not ready to go back to the daily teaching routine but the reality is:
1. It’s good to see other kids out and about in the middle of the day. During the school year, E feels sort of odd going out to lunch or running into the store during the week because inevitably we end up having a conversation about homeschool with a stranger. C isn’t bothered by this, he likes to talk to new people and thinks more kids would homeschool if they had the chance. People are very supportive, but E just gets tired of having the conversation. During the summer we blend in.
2. We enjoy the extra time we have with friends during the summer. It’s easy to make plans. We can meet at the pool or water park. We might go for a hike or play next to the creek or spend the afternoon bouncing on the trampoline. Once school starts and schedules fill up it becomes so much more difficult.
3. I enjoy the relaxed paths to learning the boys take during the summer. I love the interest led approach to it all. I wish we did that all year, but I feel the need to have structured grammar, spelling and math during the school year. The boys enjoy math with workbooks so that isn’t an issue. If they were choosing to write their own, we would take a more relaxed approach to grammar and spelling during the year as well, but that isn’t where we are yet. During the summer I don’t feel any conflict between my ideal picture and what our day to day looks like.
4. Once school starts back our experiences are different than our friends. While we are still having adventures and going on field trips, most of our friends are back in the school routine. Their conversations, especially the moms, revolve around the happenings and politics of school.
I like summer time when we are just another family. During the school year it becomes obvious we are choosing a different path, a path I whole heartedly believe is the best path for us. Sometimes my desire to fit in leaves me slightly melancholy this time of year and yet….
As the school year approaches the mood in our house is relaxed and calm. We aren’t rushing about making sure we have school supplies. We don’t need backpacks or lunch boxes or new clothes. There are no supply lists to lead us on scavenger hunts through Target and Walmart. We aren’t worried about adjusting to getting on the bus at 6:10 am or figuring out the expectations of new teachers.
Instead we are thinking about what we want to learn this year. We are deciding which museums we want to go to and what concerts and classes we will try. We’re looking for a place to take a glass blowing class. We’re finalizing the decision of which to study first – atmospheric science or biology. We are planning what activities appeal to us and culling things we’ve outgrown or that just weren’t particularly beneficial. The freedom of it all is exhilarating.
We have lots of plans we are excited about this year:
1. The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) season promises to be a great one. This year I will be coaching an FLL team and we will have a mission table available at our house. I’m not sure how this years theme – “World Class – Learning Unleashed” – will fit into our studies but I know the project based learning that will occur will be beneficial.
2. Parkour classes – Once soccer season is over the boys will be trying out a parkour class at a nearby gym.
3. Skiing – We have ski passes for the first time ever this year. I’m really hoping this makes winter more fun for us. I enjoy exercising outdoors however I’m not much of a cold weather person.
4. Homeschool Outings – Last spring I found out about a homeschool group in our area that does field trips and a geography club.
5. Zoo classes – The boys had a great time doing zoo classes last year and are looking forward to these again.
6. Science – The boys are still interested in learning about all things animal related. We’ll be using that interest to learn more about biology. We are also planning some studies of atmospheric science. It seems like science learning comes naturally at our house, so I’m sure there will be lots of other short units as well.
7. Immersion Reading with the Kindle Fire. I’m excited to add this new resource to our arsenal. Immersion reading is essentially a personalized read aloud experience. The text is highlighted as a professional narrator reads the book. I’m optimistic that it will help the boys increase their reading fluency and read books they might find intimidating otherwise.
This year promises to be a great year just like the years past. We will be learning and growing and enjoying the chance to be outside when the weather is nice. At the end of the year I know I will look back and see tremendous growth. I’ll also see areas we could have done a little better but all and all I’m sure it will be great.
What about you? Are you ready to get back to school or would you like just a little more summer?