When I was a kid, the words, “Back to School” excited me to no end. I loved new folders, clean paper, and freshly sharpened pencils. I loved meeting my new teacher, walking into my brightly colored classroom, and organizing the desk that had my name and the alphabet in D’nealian stuck on the top. I’d plan out, in detail, what I was going to wear and how I was going to do my hair for each and every first day of school.
I only have fond memories of going back to school. I was one of those kids.
If you would have told me when I was in high school or when I was at college getting a degree to teach (which is something I desired to do since 2nd grade when I wanted to emulate my all-time favorite teacher) or even when I was pregnant with our first child that I was not going to have my children participate in the monumental, traditional “back to school” wonderfulness, I most likely would have laughed loudly and then proclaimed (very passionately) that I was never, ever (no way, no how) going to deprive my children of such a beloved event.
Now, as a homeschooling mom of four (who thinks that homeschooling truly is a wonderful way to educate our children), I’ve struggled with the whole “back to school” thing. I want the excitement that I had with going back to school to be shared by my kids. I want them to have the experiences that I had: new pencils (check), new folders (check), new teacher…wait a minute. My children will not share all of my old memories.
As a homeschooling mom, I’ve had to let go of my, “I’m-not-letting-my-kids-experience-normal-school-things” guilt and replace it with God’s peace. My husband and I did not make the decision to homeschool on a whim. It was a thoughtful, prayerful decision that was (and continues to be) made over the years.
I need to remind myself (again and again) that my kids will have fond “school” memories, but that their memories will be different than my old memories, and that’s okay. And what’s even better? We will most likely share some school memories! Although my children may not have a different classroom and teacher every year, they have the familiarity of their own home (and the stability that comes with this), the loving arms of their teacher (hey, I can hug and kiss my students – pretty cool!), and the ability to help choose how their “classroom” looks and runs (you want to do school on a blanket outside today? Okay!). This is the beauty of homeschooling.
So, how do we do “back to school” at our house? Each year has been a bit different, but last year I bought the kids some new school supplies. They got dressed in their “nice, first day clothes”, and then I surprised them with their own pile of paper, pencils, markers, a folder, a ruler, and glue. After our lessons were finished, we went to the children’s museum, which happened to be fairly empty because it was the first day of school for everyone else as well (just another perk of homeschooling).
I’m not sure yet what we’ll do this year, but it’s fun for me to think of the memories my kids and I will have as we reflect on going “back to school” at our house.
Heidi Vriesman, a follower of Christ, is wife to one and mom to four. With a BA in Elementary Education, she never thought they’d choose something counter-cultural for their kids. Now, after three years of homeschooling, she’s hooked. Heidi would love to have you stop by and chat at www.dearlylovedmist.blogspot.com.