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.

16 comments:

Rachel Whitehead said...

I loved this essay Karen! You have captured my thoughts exactly. Today was our first day of homeschooling too! I'm teaching Aiden first grade and Emerson kindergarten. It went very well. I'm so happy to be on this journey along side your family. Thanks for this wonderful blog!

Terra said...

Awww! You made me get goosebumps. I'm a certified teacher, but can't find a job. I have seen what budget cuts can do to schools and it's nothing nice. Since I can't find that job that I've been dreaming of, I thought that I would put my education to good use and teach my own children. My oldest will be 4 next week and we will be starting pre-k the day before her birthday. I'm so excited about it. I know that if and when she does go to public school, she will be prepared even more than those that went to public school because she had someone who loves her teaching her.

Carolyn said...

This brought tears to my eyes since I am one of the lucky grandmothers of these two little girls. I see Jem dressed up for Olive's big day also. That is a great picture and I thought that it was nice that they were sitting in their great-great aunt Lillian's maple dining chair. Being Buzz's mother I can appreciate the soul searching you went through before deciding on home schooling. Our present school system is unfortunately, not what it was when their dad was going to kindergarten. I think you made the right decision and I know you will be a good teacher and Olive will thrive and I bet Jem will pick up a lot of info also. Buzz went to half-day private kindergarten so I didn't have to face his going to public school until he was 6. I do remember how sad it was even though I had already experienced it with his older brother.

Rachael said...

Oh my gosh! Thanks for giving thought to how the rest of us feel. That was so well written and expressed. HUGS!

Mari-Ann said...

Oh my goodness, this was lovely to read. I feel as though you took the words right out of my mouth - I couldn't agree more! I too had visions of the yellow school bus and the school plays. Truth is, it still breaks my heart to think that won't happen. But I, like you, have come to terms with the necessity to homeschool.

And, I hope you won't mind, but I will be making a little sign for our door too. What a sweet touch for the first day.

Good luck to you this school year - I'm positive you'll do beautifully!

Mari-Ann

Christy said...

My thoughts exactly! I pray the Lord blesses you with a wonderful year together!

MommyWise said...

I too miss the ceremonious aspect of going off to school. But we can always make our own rituals to make it a special day!

Just Like June said...

What a wonderful look into the changes that we make as Moms! I too always imagined motherhood differently and even though Mr. Baby is still a baby (7 months old), I've already learned that my pre-conceived notion of what type of mother I was going to be is nothing like the bedsharing crunchy Mama I've become. I think the biggest lesson I've learned is to put my idealism aside to do what works for my child and my family at the time and I see that you've done this too. It's a huge step (in the right direction). Good for you Mama!

Donna Cartwright said...

Love it!!!!!! Love it!!!!!

:)

Lindsay said...

Great post! There were so many things in here that I could totally relate to. The image of sending them off on the school bus. The back to school shopping. The picture in front of the classroom door. The image I had for homeschoolers and their families. Thanks for sharing this!

Robbins Zoo said...

This was such a sweet read. Thank You for sharing. :o) It's hard to eplain to those who don't get it.. I'm so glad to have bloggy friends who do :o)

Halley said...

Very well written Karen. I totally agree with you!

Elizabeth said...

This made me tear up, it is so sweet and so beautifully written! Congrats on your big first day, and on an exciting family adventure. I know you'll have an amazing time together, and you will all grow so much through it. I like the "one-year-at-a-time" philosophy--I think that's kind of a good philosophy on life, too, now that I think about it... One year, one month, sometimes one day or even one hour at a time is about all I can handle! Have so much fun learning together!

Mama Jenn said...

Great essay! Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

Monica said...

What a beautifully written, thoughtful post. I cN relate to many of your thoughts.

Erin Davis said...

I thought I was the only one who felt sad for not having a "first day" experience! Well written - I'm printing it for my daily lift-me-up book! Thank you!

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