Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day

My Facebook feed has been filled with cute pics of my friends' kids having their first days, mostly first grade, because that's the age Bean is.

I love their eagerly smiling faces and their backpacks that are generally too large for their bodies. Their outfits are picked out specially for the occasion, as well as their lunch. I can just smell the anticipation of a new box of crayons and hear the crack of a composition book being opened for the first time. I miss that. Honestly, I mourn not having that exciting day that kicks off a new school year.

Yet, I am also rejoicing that the first day or any day of a brick and mortar school is not currently a part of our lives.

Bo and I were woken up at 9am. Bean came bounding into our room with excitement that he taught Mei three new words, which she then recited after him. I can't even remember what they were because my mind was still cloudy with sleep. Sleep. At 9am. Awesome. Note: Tey spent the night at my in-laws, which is why he is noticeably absent from this post.

We were at the library soon after 10 because I had a homeschool meeting. Bean read independently just outside the door, but I could see him through the glass walls of the meeting room. Another mom and son arrived later than we did and the boy took a seat in a chair next to Bean. Though he was a couple years older than Bean, they hit it off immediately and were talking, smiling, giggling and otherwise planting seeds of friendship. Later I came to hear from Bean that they were discussing the book he had brought to read, a retelling of Mozart's The Magic Flute, which the other boy had also read. Let's recap: two boys of different ages began a friendship on their own by discussing an opera. I'm pretty sure that generally doesn't happen at school. Bean's excited to play with this boy again at next month's "Not Back to School Party" where he's also going to learn his name. We're still working remembering to ask people their names.

We got to spend another hour at the library because we had some time to kill before Tae Kwon Do. It was a perfect opportunity for Bean to thumb through a copy National Geographic Kids. In our planning about what to learn this year, Bean specifically said he wanted to learn about geography. So we've gone back and forth with the idea of getting him a subscription to that magazine (he wants it, but we could save the money just going to the library, and he hasn't decided about that yet). Since watching the Olympics and finding the countries in our atlas, he has also been really interested in looking at maps and atlases, learning about the legend, compass rose, scale, symbols, and state flags, and imagining what it would be like driving across various states. We're biting the bullet and going to buy this map of The Essential Geography of the United States. If you want in, I'm looking for one more person to buy with us to get the 6-pack discount. We still need a globe too. We've also been reading Paddle-to-the-Sea, and taking notes on the geography, animals, vocabulary, and imagery in the book. We take turns writing, because he's still not a big fan of that. It's hard to tell how long his interest in this topic will last, but his current geographical knowledge already exceeds school standards before what would have been his first day of school. We're gonna be ok. I still have to remind myself a lot.

After an hour of Tae Kwon Do and a picnic, we spent most of the rest of the day outside with Bean riding his bike and me weeding. After two or so weeks of borrowing a balance bike from a friend, we tried his bike with no training wheels and it was like he's been riding a two-wheel bike forever! He's gotten over much fear, and also personal struggle. So many things come very easily to him that it's difficult for him to stick to something that takes practice and that he can recognize right away that things are not going well (e.g., writing, bike riding). This is a great accomplishment for him because it took time investment and there were many bumps and scrapes along the way trying to convince him to give up. With no school schedule or homework, we can enjoy much more time outdoors, exploring nature and engaging in physical activity, which are good for the body and the soul.

There are even more reasons that I've grown to really love homeschooling, but this is just what came up based on what happened today. Yes, some days are hard but overall, I wouldn't trade this ever. At the same time, I'm so happy for all my friends whose kids started this week and I hope they have a blast this year.

Today my thoughts and prayers were very much with all the teachers who are back-to-school, especially the moms who are away from their own children to teacher others' children. It humbles me to think about the multiple and huge sacrifices teachers make to educate masses of children when I compare it to the small personal sacrifices I sometimes feel like I make to teach my three kids at home. It's easier for me to focus on all the hardships and struggles of homeschooling and being a stay-at-home-mom, but today, I choose joy.

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