Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to School (or not)

I always welcome fall and the balance it brings:  cooling things down a bit, slowing the pace, and drawing us closer to home.  I love that the natural, seasonal changes coincide with (or perhaps create?) the desire I see in myself, and my kids, to settle in and begin some quiet work.  
I particularly appreciate homeschooling at this time of year, feeling grateful that we can still be outside enjoying the last warm days,  rather than getting caught up in the hectic back to school pace that signals September for so many families.  

September is my favorite month, but I remember when it wasn't.  Actually, I remember the year that I realized it was my favorite month, that it no longer created a twisted knot of anticipation and dread I had associated with having to return to school.  Wylie was three years old and Juniper 1.  Neither child was in school, I wasn't working at all, and we had the whole season ahead of us to ramble in the woods and play on the beach, and read stories in the grass.  September is the best month for all of those things--and so many kids (and adults as well) don't get to enjoy it. 

In the Sunflowers, September 2006 

This is not to say that homeschooling is lovely all the time.  There are many days when I think fondly of the big yellow bus that could come and take my children away!  All day!  For Free!  And, there is also a bit of nostalgia I have from early childhood of having my own cubby and my own teacher, not to mention a new back pack and lunch box and pencils (I really do love school supplies).  Sometimes people ask me, "why  do you choose to homeschool?--and I don't have an easy answer.  (More on that here).

Hunting for Monarch Caterpillars, 2008

But, this is what I do know.  When my children were infants I always felt capable.  From the moment they were born I was a confident mother.  It just felt like second nature to nurse them on demand, and sleep with them in bed, and to wear them close throughout the day.  I didn't always know how to make them stop crying, or how to help them latch just right, but I always knew that I was doing it well.  That they would be all right because of the way we were parenting them.

When Wylie was around four years old there was a shift.  I don't remember any exact moment, just this creeping realization that I was no longer as sure of my parenting practices.  I began second guessing myself, and trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, or what I could change in order to be better.  I read a lot of parenting books.  I processed a lot with friends.  I cried.  For me, parenting babies was simple, but children were a different matter.  I didn't feel so sure of what I was supposed to be doing.  
Except for school.  Whenever the topic of preschool came up, I knew it wasn't right.  When they were babies I hadn't planned that we would homeschool, but now that they have become children I know that they should learn at home. 

Now, after 8 years of this parenting gig, I still have a lot of uncertainty.  But, inside I know that homeschooling is what is best.  I can't say exactly why.  I know it won't always be perfect, and that I won't always know just how to teach them what they need, or be the best mom to them all the time.  But I'm grasping at intuition.  I'm taking this feeling in my gut that carried me through three beautiful babyhoods, and doing my best to follow it through the maze of their childhoods as well.  

Hunting monarch caterpillars, 2011

On Monday we'll be starting up a regular schedule of school work again, after taking a break for the summer.  I'm feeling pretty organized and excited to have some kind of routine around here after all of the crazy travel and running about we do in the summer.  I'm ready to have a few "at home" days where we don't have to leave home for any reason.  I'm ready to spend some focused time with my kids, following their lead,  learning along with them, and enjoying that we're not in school.

Oh, and I'm ready for a few new school supplies.  Here's what we've got so far: 

* School supply bag for Wylie, from scraps.
* New, re-fillable pens (less waste), tape, erasers, modeskin journals, and pencil grips from our local office supply store.  You can buy pens and pencils individually so you only get what you need, and no packaging!

* Snack bags and sandwich wrap for Juniper.  These are made from laminated cotton from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast.  There were a few examples in the store that I copied--though not exactly.  This stuff is a pain to work with, but I'm pretty happy with how they came out.  Wylie's are in process.

I've also been doing a crazy (for me) amount of crafting for various birthdays this month:  bags, tops, headbands, and more!  Also, a birthday for me!

 Morsels will be a little late this week.  Happy Monday!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post Jaz, your kids are turning out beautifully. I really like the snack bag and sandwich wrap idea. I think I need to find my own crafting niche.


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