Back to school party
I had fun parents. They liked parties and didn’t care if you had a birthday attached to them or not. One year, my dad and mom helped me plan and execute a big Valentine’s party whose theme was sports (totally their idea). My maiden name is Sweeney and we called it: “The Sweeney Sports Spectacular.” Each room in our large house had a different sports event (putting golf, Nerf basketball, horseshoes, tossing cards into a hat, ping pong, calisthenics and so on). We paired up into boy-girl teams (7th grade – which meant it was a bit agonizing and thrilling!) by drawing name cards that created new words. So a boy might draw “hockey” and the girl would draw “puck” and that made them a team.
Scoring rules were posted at each sports’ site and we were given score cards to keep track of points. There were pretty silly trophies for highest scores, lowest scores, silliest team, etc. Loads of fun and it had nothing to do with celebrating me. Just a great way to be with my friends. So that’s a glimpse into my parents. They were fun!
My mom (who had been a school teacher before I was born) had a special affection for all things academic. When I was in fifth grade, she helped me organize a “Back-to-school Brunch” (all this alliteration!). We invited ten of my girlfriends this time for a morning of omlettes, pastries and games. Party favors included new pencils with psychedelic designs on them, groovy 1970s stickers, pink erasers, and Pee-Chee folders. We played games like “unscramble the school words” where each girl had a sheet of paper with typical words related to school all mixed up. We raced to see who could unscramble them the fastest. We covered a text book using paper bags, scissors and tape (in a race). There were other games I don’t remember. But the idea was to make the return to school something to celebrate, rather than dread. And it really worked!
As I spend this week getting ready for next week (when we start), I thought about homeschooling and its varities of traditions: the brown boxes from UPS that bring new, unused books to the family that get ripped open with enthusiasm; the ease of finding pencils because at the start of the year, there are lots of them and all in one place; the joy of starting a new read aloud and snuggling together again on the couch; the resumption of teatime and poetry that draws the family together once per week…
In Brave Writer, we try to see things through our children’s eyes. Sometimes our own weariness sets in and we forget that children still need surprises, specialness, treats, awe, wonder – in large doses! So think about how to get off on the right foot this fall. What can you do to make this a season that draws your children’s good will to the surface and creates a memory as vivid as the “back-to-school brunch” is for me.