Most people know the routine for children going back to school each year. As summer days draw to an end, you will find parents shopping for school supplies, picking out a new lunch box and backpack. They clean out the closet, trying on school clothes only to find they will be replacing those jeans that magically shrunk over the last two months. There are last-minute checks of enrollment papers, meeting the teacher night, and finding the bus schedule. Yes, going back to school has its own routine every August.
But what about for the homeschool mom?
When I began homeschooling many years ago, I mistakenly thought our back-to-school routine would look very similar. I shopped in the school supply aisle, grabbing new boxes of crayons, pencils, and erasers. I bought some fun decorations, turning our dining room into a school room at home. I excitedly bought a miniature school desk, dreaming about what my little scholar would learn each day. Then we excitedly began our first year of homeschooling.
Fast forward 30 years and nine kids later, the back-to-school checklist looks a little different.
1) Clean out last year’s school papers, finding somewhere to store them in case you ever need them. Multiply this by a few children and you might just be drowning in paperwork.
2) Locate all the pencils in the house, decide if they have another months’ worth of use in them. Discard the ones that are chewed up, shorter than 2 inches, or are missing an eraser.
3) Organize all your reference books by subject and age, knowing you will repeat this step over and over as your non-reader takes the books ack off the shelf and pours over the pictures every night before bed.
4) Buy the perfect planner, committing that you will do a better job this year to fill in all the boxes, lines, and organizational help this new book offers. Don’t you just love the feel of unused, wide-open possibilities?
5) Relax, knowing that your school year might not look like everyone else’s school year but reassure yourself that the work will be done. It might be in pajamas, on the couch, at the park, or even in the car on the way to a field trip, but your children are receiving just what they need, which is to have a love of learning instilled in their hearts.
Over the years I have completed these steps many times over. Each year fretting if I am doing this right, wondering if someone else’s curriculum or schedule might be a better fit for our family. I think as moms, we all worry about how our kids will turn out and how much of what we teach them will be absorbed, no matter where our kids attend school. It is important to remember there is no right way to educate our children, only to do what is right for each child individually. It won’t look just like another family’s journey, but then think how boring life would be if we were all the same. Relax and enjoy this school year.