Steady as she goes!
I’m a northern hemisphere type. August triggers for me the start of the school year, as I know it does for many of you reading this page. My dad always used to say, “The two best days of the year are the last day of school, and the first day of school…in that order.”
I know what he means. I anticipate the fresh start, the joy of re-entering academic life, the new books whose spines crackle as you open them, the bright faces. In homeschooling, our own set of unique traditions cluster around the start of the year: the UPS truck that delivers brown boxes of books, the cubbies created to hold those books, pencils sharpened and new pens that all work and are in a jar visible to all. Brand new copywork books, without a mark in them. Art supplies not yet messy or broken.
In our house, I wrote “back-to-school” notes on the night before we’d “start.” I put these at each child’s breakfast place setting so that in the morning, they’d see these first. I didn’t write a lot, but I usually offered enthusiasm about what this child would get to learn during the coming year, the growth in the child I anticipated seeing, the fun we would share. I decorated the notes with stickers or stars. It was gratifying to me to see that my kids kept these notes for years, as I’d move one after another out to college and I’d bump into the little stack tucked away in a dresser drawer.
The newness energizes. Capitalize on it. Make the special treats; plan your big, time-and-energy-consuming projects for fall; go on hikes in the mild weather and watch birds; head to the local museum for art shows or iMax movies; host a party with other homeschool friends to celebrate back to school! (My mom gave me a wonderful gift in 6th grade—she organized a back-to-school brunch for my girlfriends and me in our California backyard, complete with made-to-order omelets and pencils kits for favors; you could do that!)
The big, bright, optimism you feel can be harnessed for good. Enjoy the surge, be open to where it takes you, follow your inspiration when it arrives. Remember: inspiration is not a lengthy visitor, so welcome her with open arms and go where she leads. Soon enough, you’ll be back to your comforting routine that stands in the gap when inspiration runs dry.
Keep all of this good juju going, while everyone’s got the energy and mojo to do it. The day is coming when the spirit of “new” dissipates and the routine will be familiar again. That day is okay too. It’s life—it’s the homeschooling cycle. You are not doing anything wrong, if you happen upon a day that is a little less neon-bright than September. That’s as it should be. When the day comes, accept and welcome its quieter spirit. Adjust. Let the ebb and flow of your homeschool reassure you rather than worry you. It means you are doing it right. Steady as she goes.
Add brownies, if you need some comfort food along the way.
Happy homeschooling everyone!
Cross-posted on facebook.