School Days

This week on our morning walks we started to see the neighborhood kids lined up waiting for their school buses. The mornings have been unusually cool and crisp this week (well, unusual for an Indiana August, no doubt because global warming has given way to a new global ice age or something) and that always makes me think of starting school.

There is something exciting and full of promise about a new school year. The first day of school was always a mix of exhilaration and apprehension for me, especially in the (many) years when I was starting at a new school in a new location. For some reason, I can remember exactly what I wore the first day of school for the grades when I was starting a new school but not the other years. Even the years we were homeschooled I found the beginning of a new year something to look forward to.

Hannah is not quite three, so she’s too young for really formal schooling, but we do a lot of educational things sprinkled through our day as we read and play together. I’ve been thinking that it would be good to get in the habit of documenting some of what we’re doing starting this fall, for a number of reasons:

  • Encouragement – sometimes the day-to-day routines of motherhood make me forget the real and important work I do everyday in teaching and training my children, and I think that making some simple notes of some of the educational things we do will remind me that quality (and quantity) time with my children is time well spent.
  • Progress – Another thing I lose track of is how far we’ve come. I actually got this idea from reading a Berenstein Bear book to Hannah recently – in the book, Mama Bear shows Sister Bear a picture she colored one year before compared to one she colored recently, and they talk about how much Sister has learned – I think it would help me appreciate how much the kids learn in the early years if I write it down.
  • Practice – I know it’s important to keep detailed records documenting how and what subjects you cover when you’re homeschooling, and that is one part of homeschooling that I find daunting in prospect. Hopefully getting into the habit of writing things down will help me feel less apprehensive about record keeping by the time it’s a necessity.
  • Philosophy – I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about education and the different philosophies and methods thereof. I think keeping some records will help me to test out my thoughts and conclusions in different areas so that I can have a better idea of what I really want to do a few years from now. For example, my philosophy on foreign languages has changed somewhat over the past year or two, so we’re doing something different now than you might expect if you talked with me about it a long time ago.

I love to read blogs and articles by homeschooling moms to see what other families are doing with education. (I really enjoyed this post by my former piano teacher about how her husband starts their homeschool year off with excitement!) I learn a lot and am inspired by people who blog about their homeschooling efforts, even if it’s not something that would probably work for me at this point. The great thing about homeschooling is that you can focus on what your family’s priorities are, and teach the basics in a way that works for the teaching and learning styles of your family members.

To that end, I do plan to post some of my thoughts for our family’s homeschool preschool, but I want to mention up front that just because I’m doing something doesn’t mean I think everyone should, and just because my kids are interested in something doesn’t mean your kids will be. Mostly I’ll be throwing it out there as a personal exercise for myself. I most likely won’t bore you with my record keeping after that goal post.

“Goal post.” Heh. That reminds me that I need to buckle down and name my fantasy football team.

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