It’s Definitely Different
As summer is winding down, I’m starting to hear the familiar groans from tired moms, “I’ll be so glad when the kids go back to school!”. I’ve seen several ‘back to school’ ads on TV and stores are putting on ‘back to school’ sales – it’s really strange not to be a part of all that hoopla this year. It’s kinda sad, actually.
I remember towards the end of every summer, my mom would wrap this huge box and put it on the ends of our beds before we woke up. She’d bang on pots and make a ton of noise to wake us up and was really excited because she knew we’d be surprised. After a while, of course, we knew the drill – but it was still so much fun! She’d put all kinds of school goodies in them – paper, folders, pencils, stickers – everything we’d need for the upcoming year and a few treats as well. Then we got to pick backpacks, lunch boxes, school clothes and new shoes. It was always such an exciting time of the year. I tried to carry the same tradition through with my boys when they were in school, minus the boxed up prezzie on their beds. We’d just go shopping and get all their stuff. They wore uniforms, so clothes shopping was out (but with boys, clothes shopping is less fun, I think, than with girls) but we did get backpacks and shoes and lunch boxes.
This year through, we don’t really need much in the way of paper and folders and stuff. It’s interesting to me to see the amount of stuff that I sent for the year, what we came home with, and what we’re actually using for school. We go through pencils like mad, but the boys aren’t big on coloring, so we still have pretty new crayons. We’re deep into a couple of our spiral notebooks, but hardly the 3 that they each had to bring – and we almost never use loose-leaf paper. We have some in their math and science folders, but we almost never use it in single-sheet form. For leftovers, we still have Kleenex (2 boxes), hand-sanitizer (4 bottles), baby-wipes (2 packages), big pink erasers (6), scissors (4) – all that stuff is still sitting around. We used some of it, of course. We go through baby wipes, and we used some of the erasers for our letterboxing stamps. Each of the boys has their own scissors, so we still have extras there. I know that the teachers ask for extra supplies to help outfit the children who show up with nothing – I get that and can even agree with it as long as the stuff that I sent for MY child to use (like the sparkly or character themed stuff) is actually used by my child, but to have that much extra seems like it’s taking advantage of parents just a bit to me.
Anyway – moving on…
One of the things I plan to do with the money that we’re not spending on school supplies this year is to buy ‘school supplies’ – like a microscope and a chemistry set and software. I am not sure what we’ll need just yet though. I really want to start getting the kids more into computers this fall and a friend of mine suggested some stuff that would be useful, Pure Data was one and I have to ask which other one I’m supposed t check out. I entered a drawing for a Python package thing – that would be so cool to have. Even if we don’t win it, I am going to look into it as well.
I am also really interested in foreign language. We started working on LiveMocha, but it is really not kid-friendly. I keep hearing that Muzzy and Rosetta Stone are not all they’re hyped up to be, but they seem to be the ‘standard’ and are both SO expensive. We’d end up paying several thousand dollars to take all the language courses we’d like to go through. I saw another immersion-method language brand at Best Buy called Instant Language Labs. It was a fraction of the cost, and if it is comparable to Muzzy or especially RS (which it seems to be based on Amazon’s reviews), it would be worth it. I’m really interested in Spanish, Japanese and French to begin with.
Something else that I am finding odd is that I actually can’t wait for school to start so that WE can get back to our normal school day routine. Between my niece being with us and the summer activities offered in our community, we’ve hardly been home to do school. Don’t get me wrong, I love that there is so much to do this summer – but we’ve been doing a lot of it, and I’m tired! We’ve taken this week off for the most part, but in a few weeks we’ll get back in the groove. I’m looking forward to the return of predictability.
I admit that I am going to miss the ‘first day of school’ excitement this year. I have organized a ‘boo hoo breakfast’ for new and Kinder parents on the first day for the last couple of years – it will be odd not to ‘have’ to do that this year. I think the boys and I will go out for breakfast or something just to make the day special. Just because we’re not ‘in school’ anymore doesn’t mean we have to give up the excitement, right?
I will say that going in, I was not prepared for the continuous presence of the children and how much work that is on a day-in, day-out basis. Having kids in school means that you get a break everyday from 8-3 (more or less) and at least some time to yourself. Homeschooling means constant togetherness – breaks from being “on” are few and far-between and (mine, at least) are carefully orchestrated symphonies of planning greatness to accomplish. There are moments, days even, where I desperately miss having that much time to myself. But then, there are other factors that make up for it. Overall though, I am appreciating the differences in school and homeschool today and I hope you are, too.