Our First Day of (Home)School

So today we had our first morning of school.

I made them take pictures but didn't make them dress up.  This was their real "excited about school" picture.  Notice that (aside from the shirtless 4th grader, and 6th and 2nd graders still in their pajamas) our new Kindergartner is apparently uber-excited about starting school.

The rest of them look more like "sure, OK, we'll start school."

They're good kids, but momma don't raise no fools.  Swimming all day every day, and getting to (for the most part) be the master of your own time is undeniably preferable to having your days carved up and directed by mom, no matter how much fun or how interesting things are in your schoolwork (and we do have fun and keep things very interesting).

Nonetheless, when mom says it's school time, then school time it is.  And they're willing participants.  :)

It seems that my newly-minted 6th grader is no longer willing to take realistic school photos and must now alter them in some way that he finds humorous.

Today?  Moving the glasses down to look professorial.  That's OK.  I still love teaching him.  Course, I've never homeschooled a 6th grader, but he & I continue to guinea-pig it and love it.  And I'm starting to get excited about the possibilities with high school, standardized testing, and college scholarships.

This year our line-up is the most eclectic (and mom-created) we've ever used.  Here's a run-down for those of you who are interested-- The Mystery of History Volume I: Creation to the ResurrectionHow the Body Works (A Comprehensive Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Anatomy)Egermeier's Bible Story Book, and All the Best Songs for Kids: 230 Praise Songs, Choruses, and Children's Favorites for Preschool Through Preteen, plus various levels of Singapore Math  and lots of age-appropriate add-on resources for both science & history.  We're focusing on ancient history, anatomy/nutrition/cooking, and individual advancement in each area of skill (math/reading/writing), but doing it all together this year (which is what I am most stoked about).

Incidentally, the best thing I have done lately, as a homeschool mom is read and re-read this book: Walk by the Spirit in Your Homeschool Decisions.  I know it's out of print right now, but it's my favorite book about homeschool planning, because it really points to the right place: the Spirit of God-- as our guide as we go about teaching our children.  

So anyway, today we jumped into all of our group activities, and we'll add in things like our math work in a day or two, once we're settled into the schooling routine.  It was a great time, and it was exciting for me to see their eyes full of delight, and their curious minds engaged.  I love days where we end the day with them thrilled and ready for more. 

The only thing "first day-like" that we did was that I wrote each child a letter of encouragement in the front of their notebook.  I really am so thankful for them, and I continually seek out ways to let each child know how special and God-given they are.

There are so many great things about homeschooling, in my opinion and experience.  Here's a small list: 
  • They can each grow at their own pace, in each individual subject without having to be compared to (and without comparing themselves to) a gaggle of other children that happen to have been born within 12 months of them.  
  • Freedom of schedule (this one can not be overstated... in today's busy-busy-busy commitment-filled world, the freedom of the homeschool day allows us to get the essentials (and then some) done each day, usually by lunchtime, so we can each spend more time doing the things we love.  Building chicken coops and writing novels (me), researching WWII and playing Legos (Ethan), building with Legos and swimming (Baxter), drawing and designing baby clothes (Maranatha), learning to do Legos and playing Nerf swords (Silas)... and being together as a family.
  • Our own determination of and awareness of each thing our children are being exposed to... so we can intentionally, purposefully, delightfully pique their interest in things we believe they'll find interesting, hold off on things they're not quite ready for, etc.
  • And many many more things I could list but won't because this post isn't about that.

But if you want to know what my favorite thing about today was, it's this: I didn't send a single one of my children away.  I got to continue spending my days with them, and they got to continue spending their days with me.  Our days will be divided up differently now, but we're still doing life together.

And finally, here's photographic evidence of their dramatic abilities-- I told them to make sad-cause-we-can't-swim-all-day-anymore faces:   

But don't feel too badly for them.  We swam all afternoon.  I'm so thankful for these days and years together, and am thankful for God leading us to homeschool.

It's a treasure to get to know and spend my days with these special people.


Jessica B. said...

This post made me happy. We're starting back on August 26th and I'm excited about the year but if I'm honest, I'm right there with the kids about not swimming!
I was sort of disheartened when my son was less than thrilled about the start of school so I'm thankful for your comment on it. I hadn't thought of it that way. If I'm loving the carefree days of summer, why wouldn't they?
We're doing Sonlight's Core C this year (2) along with Apologia's Astronomy. I'm pretty stoked.
I look forward to hearing how your planning worked out.

Miranda said...

Loved this! I enjoyed reading how you guys spend you day and love the comment about NOT sending them away. :)

I hope you have a great school year. We start back up on Monday. The kids are pretty excited this year. Which, of course, makes momma happy!

Brittany said...

I also was encouraged by your comment about why kids aren't excited about starting school. I'm always kind of bummed when I put so much effort into making school fun, and my boys are still less than thrilled about starting. It was a good reminder that it's not me or my lesson plans. It's just never going to be as fun as doing whatever they want. Which should have been obvious to me, but for some reason has always felt personal. I kind of had an "oh yeah!" moment. :)

Nita said...

I enjoyed youf blog. I totally get the not wanting to start school thing. After ten years of homeschooling I am more and more wanting to have summer year round, but I know my littles well enough to know that unschooling just wouldn't work for them. I love the fact that your kids felt no need to dress for school. And I thought the professor was hilarious. Have a great year.