Our district’s public schools went back in session this week. Our local Facebook groups were filled with school posts about buses running late, the school’s new app not working, and the few, terrifying mishaps that inevitably happen. Friends posted the pictures of their kids in school gear, lugging a backpack and carrying a sign with their new grade on it. Your typical school happenings for the new year.
Last year we ignored it all. After all, kindergarten didn’t really feel like “school,” especially because we weren’t using curriculums or spending a ton of time on schoolwork. We played. This year is different.
This year, the Engineer’s best friend is going to public school. And he’s a little sad about it: partially because he wants to go with her, and partially because he understands that their long, idyllic afternoons playing together are mostly over. He doesn’t understand that even if I sent him to public school, he would attend a school halfway across town from the one she attends. They couldn’t ride the bus together, have lunch together, or do any of the things he thinks would be fun.
So this year, I decided that we would make a new tradition. We would do a Not-Back-To-School day on the day the public schools opened, and we would go do fun stuff and skip the learning. Despite my lingering sinus infection and cranky toddler, we saddled up and headed out in the rental car (ours went in for repairs, thank you very much, storm blown debris!)
Of course, learning still happened. Because homeschooling, right?
We went on a long, lovely nature walk. We enjoyed the breeze, the slightly cooler weather, and the not-so-sunny day that made my life much easier. We pointed out butterflies, listened for bird calls, and checked every milkweed plant we saw for caterpillars.
Then we went to their favorite indoor playground and got all the wiggles out. The Engineer wistfully asked if his friend would be coming, and I had to remind him again that she was going to public school. While we swatted mosquitoes, she rode the bus. While we listened for birds, she went to class. It’s a different kind of day, and he realized it.
It’s times like these that I worry about what he’s missing out on. He’s missing the long bus rides with friends, the chance to swap sandwiches at lunch, and the warm glow of a teacher’s approval. I know he’s learning – he knows he’s learning – but the urge to “go” to school is so ingrained in our society that not going seems wrong at times.
So this year is a school year of new beginnings for us. We’re doing our art class, we’re making a concerted effort to join in our local homeschooler groups, and we’re starting to ramp up the academics a little more. Regrouping and multiplication, here we come! Algebra, equations, and more are on the way. And worse, I’m starting to brace myself for schooling 2 kids at a time. The Princess will be 5 in the spring, and she’s already doing kindergarten level work.
I’m hoping for a good year. I’m hoping for a great year! This is a year for making new friends, enjoying time spent with old friends, and trying new things. I hope your year starts as positively as ours did 🙂