Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day Of School -- actually, no

~This photo tickles me because his smile and pose remind me of a yearbook photo~

For many, many children around the country today is the first day of school. Some local schools started earlier, but Salem started today. If Shannon were attending public school, this would've been his very first day of school.
I don't know why I am a little sad today. I was awake when the school bus went by, and even though Shannon's friend, who also starts kindergarten today, wasn't on the bus (she's being driven) kids he knows are.
I didn't grow up being homeschooled and neither did Justin. We hadn't planned on homeschooling when Shannon was first born. It was a decision that formulated over time, with much thought and research being done first.
I remember my first day of school, or at least I remember photos from it. I remember I wore a white shirt and a little green skirt with pink pigs on it. My "backpack" was more like a messenger bag and looked like a Hershey bar (I wish I still had it!!). We had to take little mats to school with us for nap times. Do they even still do that for kids?
So, even though I know that we're on the right path for us, for some reason I am a little sad that I didn't get to see Shannon get on the bus for the first time today. Rationally I know that this is one of those silly, "mom things" that we moms get all choked up and teary-eyed about, but here I am teary-eyed anyway.

Instead of getting on the bus this morning, Shannon was laying on my bed with Tristan and me when it passed by the house. Instead of napping (if they still do that) on a little mat, he's in his room for "nap time". Instead of sitting at a desk today, he's been playing with toys.
Lessons learned so far today: what is bbq and where does it come from?, what happens when you don't obey (they've been grounded this morning), how to tell time (a continual process of learning - the reward usually being when he can get back up), just because someone is smaller than you doesn't mean they can't swing a toy hard enough to hurt you (hey look - I think there is a physics lesson in that one somewhere!!), that Summer doesn't end the day after Labor Day, you can take different paths than your friends and that doesn't need to effect your friendship in anyway.
Instead of homework this evening, we will be preparing for a picnic dinner at a local park, along the river. We will practice reading, as we do every night, with books from the library - a constant, fresh stream of them! Writing lessons come in the form of eagerly anticipated penpal letters to a new friend in Israel. Bedtimes haven't changed due to new schedules. No new clothes were needed.
Of course, there are some things I would feel remiss if I didn't mention: 1)We don't think of school as something that really has a start and end. I suppose that is why we unschool. We know that our children have been learning since the day they were born and believe that they will continue to learn till the day they die, as we all will. 2)We started Shannon out on "kindergarten" lessons well over a year ago. He does like doing workbook things from time to time. If he were truly placed in public school based on the things he knows, I doubt he would be starting in kindergartent today. 3)Murphy's Law NEVER fails. If Shannon had gotten on the bus and gone to school this morning it would've been with very dark bruises underneath his lower lip, starting at the corners and going down. I have no clue how he got these, nor does he. I checked his teeth and gums and all was good. But still, he would've gone to school black & blue. AND, since I REALLY know Murphy's Law NEVER fails .. he probably would've let fly how he got to drink Daddy's beer yesterday ("what did you do yesterday for Labor Day?" "I drank beer!")! Of course, he only got to try a little sip (though I will admit the turkey tried to take more than that) -- we're not bad parents, please unwad your panties. A SIP folks, monitored, glass held by parents. But Shannon is 5 1/2 and that is not how it would've come out.
Ahh .. the reasons why, and the glories of unschooling. I'll try to not cry anymore about any experience he may have missed by not being on the school bus this morning, I promise.


Lisa said...

Just think of all the experiences he would miss if he WERE getting on that bus (not to mention the ones you would miss). I hope you figure out what the bruises are. So funny that he tried to take more than a sip. I was just telling Patrick last night how I wish there had been moms like you around when I was raising small children. It sure would have been fun.

Jasie VanGesen said...

I can relate to this. Today would have been Silas' first day of 3rd grade... it's a weird feeling, but it just further affirms in my mind that I know we're doing what's best for him and for our family. It's just so odd, thinking what his day would have been like today if we'd never made this change.

Carole and Chewy said...

That weird feeling doesn't change-if it's not the first day of school, it's picture day, or first prom, or graduation day.

I think it gets easier as they get older, particularily when you ask your homeschooled daughter if she misses school, and she looks at you very oddly, and says "I'm not going back, and you can't make me".

Carrie and Justin said...

If he HAD gone to school today he would've missed (other than what I listed) - gathering eggs from the chickens, and helping me make deviled eggs & pizza dough for this evening's outing! He learned about measurements on those last ones.
Carole - right now he seems to view the possibility of attending public school as a form of punishment. I doubt that will change TOO much over the years.
Though I do agree that I will tear-up at the notion of some "missed opportunities" - whether they be real or imagined.

Susan said...

As a mom of two always-homeschooled kids, the beginning of school makes me sad for a different reason. When I hear parents complain about having to be around their children all summer and when they say things like, "THANK GOD school starts next week! I can't wait for them to be out of my hair!" or when I hear moms at the park talk about bribing their little kids to get on the bus without crying and begging for their moms not to leave them, or neighbors who are so exasperated with their kids that they resort to spanking them over homework struggles, it makes me sad for those families. Now at the end of summer when the back-to-school ads start playing on tv and the buses start going by the house I feel SO blessed to be a different type of family. And I grab my kids and give them a hug and feel very grateful that they ARE missing those experiences.