Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Beginnings (aka. the school year begins)

I love this time of year. It feels fresh and new. I know that the natural world is preparing for hibernation, for the survival of the harsher winter months. But this weather gives us a reprieve from the hotter summer months, it is so refreshing. And the activities surrounding this time of year change as well. The lazy (or not so lazy, if you read my previous post) days of summer are over and the more structured time of the academic year is upon us. Even this feels new and refreshing for me. I am sure that feeling has to do with memories of my childhood preparations for beginning a new school year: the exciting anticipation (and trepidation) that came with starting a new grade, with a new teacher and the potential of making new friends; the process of picking out new clothes and school supplies; and new pencils to be sharpened and brightly colored crayons lined up perfectly in their box. Everything was new and fresh and full of potential.

I recently began to ponder whether my younger two children would have similar memories to look back upon, whether they would have similar associations regarding this season. We have developed a lifestyle of learning in which learning is just woven naturally into all that we do as a family. We have always had some sort of formal lessons but there has always been a lot of flexibility and room for spontaneity. It has often been difficult to discern exactly when the "school" year ends and when it begins again. This year I decided to be clear and set a date. The date chosen was the day after labor day (a little old school, don't you think?). The week prior to this I took advantage of the back-to-school specials and bought school supplies and a couple of new outfits. I did have the boys help me with the clothes shopping. They were hesitant at first but, in the end, really seemed to enjoy determining their own style. On labor day we said goodbye to summer by going swimming at the public pool, dining in our backyard and roasting marshmallows for s'mores over the fire pit. The following day the boys donned their new clothes and the school year began!

School began with them attending a homeschool group at the local YMCA. At this group they play P.E. style games in the gym, go rock climbing and swimming. After their group I took them to the park for a picnic (complete with a back-to-school snack) and to begin our study of clouds. Also, while at the park, I had them change into another new outfit and we took "school" pictures to send to the family. I have not done this before but I have found that I miss the regular documentation of change that school photos provide (my oldest two children attended public school through elementary and middle school). It was such a delightful day and a magical way to start the school year. I do hope to make much of it an annual tradition.

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