Monday, August 16, 2010
An Essay: The First Day of School
First Day of School
When she was first born I imagined this day… getting her ready in a new outfit, braiding her hair, anxiously walking to the bus stop to wait for the rumble of the approaching bus, with me helping to calm her nervous butterflies. I would pack the perfect lunch with a cute little sandwich cut into a special shape, and surprise her with a note, “happy first day of school, my big girl.”
Once I made my decision to homeschool, I struggled with the fact that there would be no yellow school bus for my daughter. It’s interesting how our vision changes, or maybe we just change as a person, into a parent, knowing in our hearts that what used to be good is no longer the best it can be for them.
Being a public school graduate, it took me a few years after having children to realize that homeschooling isn’t just about jean jumpers, non-stop religious dogma, and staying within the confines of home. After hearing about large classrooms, school budget cuts that seem to be aimed at kids and not administrators, and “No Child Left Behind,” I started to wonder what a well-educated mother could do for a child who is eager to learn. I found that, out of necessity, I was willing to challenge my own public-school bias against what I once believed was homeschooling.
I’ve spent countless hours selecting a curriculum, signed my daughter up for a homeschool co-op with thirty other families that will meet once a week, organized our classroom, which used to be a playroom, and generally started making sense of our new homeschool life. It does take a commitment of time, but I’ve already devoted the first years of my child’s life to being a stay-at-home mom and that takes time too; in my case, the patience and organization is learned, just as on any job.
There are days I second guess myself… many days. It’s in those moments that I realize that, though homeschooling has grown in numbers, we are in the minority. The friends she plays with at the pool with will soon hop on the big yellow school bus and be gone from 7:30-3:30, Monday through Friday. I know she would love a large, boisterous classroom. She is quite a social, happy, and active person; but somehow I don’t think I will regret taking the time to teach her at home. It’s my hope that she will feel the same, but the best advice I have been given, and can give, is to take homeschooling one year at a time. It can be daunting to think of it otherwise.
So on my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, we will walk together from the kitchen into our makeshift school room. There will be a sign on the door from her teacher that reads “welcome to your first day of school.” I’m so glad we’re here.