~ Musings on the First Day of School ~

August 19, 2009

To those of us who homeschool, the first day of school is a little easier than it might be if we were outsourcing our children’s education. Yesterday we excitedly approached a new year, but I didn’t have to get everyone up at the first peek of the morning sun, hurry breakfast down their gullets, and then help everyone find matching shoes before the bus rolled up the hill. Thank you, Lord.

No, the first day of homeschool went something like this:

Breakfast was at 9 am, and afterwards, we sat around the table as a family, including dad, and we talked about our scripture verse for the year. (“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”) I had written a personal message for each student on a 3×5 card, and I passed those out along with new planners, notebooks, and pencils. We prayed over the upcoming year. Awesome beginning.

I had hoped to spend time with each individual student, beginning with the oldest and working down to the youngest, in order to gauge where we would be heading in the first quarter. I didn’t get through anyone past Taylor, LOL. But I have learned that one can plan everything out, but life will get in the way.

Taylor, the resident senior, and I looked over where he needed to be by the end of the year, and then we broke that down into quarters. We reviewed our plans for taking the SAT in early October, and we discussed what colleges he might want to visit/revisit before the end of September.  I left it to Taylor to work out how much work he needed to cover in the first quarter (9 weeks) of the year and get those written down in his planner. He is quite experienced in the realm of self-teaching, and I know he will set the bar high.

Lilie had worked ahead for the first day of school, which just made me smile. I checked her math, checked in with the other three girls on their math, and told Frank that I would catch up with him on Wednesday. (Tuesday, today, was a school holiday. Yeah, yeah, we had a holiday on the second day of school in honor of Frank’s birthday.)

I had only assigned math and one other subject of the student’s choosing for the first day of school. I like to ease into things, personally, and after six weeks off, easing in is the only way to go, IMHO. 😉

I did not get to each child to set short-term goals along with them or to check the goals that the older three had set for themselves. This is our very, very busy season with my home business, so I knew I would not get to everyone, and that was okay. I will sit down on Wednesday and meet with the children I did not meet with.

I only have ten more first days of school. Ten years from now, Lilie will enjoy the first day of her senior year, and it will also be my last first day of homeschool. I will be old; 55 years old, to be exact, but I know it will be a tearful day for me. I get teary-eyed just writing about it, for heaven’s sake. How I will miss the sweet first days of school!

These days are precious. They are numbered. When I have “one of those days” this year, as I undoubtedly will, I shall pull up this post, re-read it, and hopefully catch the vision once again…the vision of the freshness of each day, and the wonderful opportunity that is mine as a homeschool mom.

The first day of school was just that — the first. I should be getting to bed so I can face the second day.  🙂


~ The Three Magic Words ~

August 4, 2009

Yes, there are such things as magic words.

When it comes to anything repetitious, especially an activity, we tend to lose perspective, and our children are no less prone to sliding into the wrong mindset about schooling. For you as an adult, often the opportunity to go to work each day, to prepare a meal, to do laundry, or fill in the blank, is seen as an enormous chore and drain on our ever-dwindling energy supply. And our mindset.

Do your children resist school work? Chores? While my kids are not out and out vocally negative about doing their school work, they do tend to get a “just another day” mindset. I am sure I model that attitude to them on occasion as well because I don’t use my own magic words as often as I need to.  Today I am pulling them out and putting them to work!

I am about to share with you the three magic words that have the power to pull you out of your slump, to lighten your load, and to share with your children so that they can approach their day with vim and vigor, (whatever that is), too.

Next time you are asked, “Mom, do I *have* to?” The answer you want to give is “You don’t have to, you GET to.”

“Do I have to do math today?” you are asked.

“No, dear. You don’t have to; you get to.” You have the privilege to. You are blessed because you are able to. It is not a responsibility, it is an opportunity.

Catch the magic in those three words: you get to. They are a mindset-changer every time.

When I am facing a chore that I dislike doing, such as cleaning anything, but let’s use cleaning the kitchen as an example: I say to myself, “Joanne, you don’t have to clean the kitchen. You get to clean the kitchen. You are healthy and strong. There are those who would give anything to be mobile enough to do such a task. Thank you, Lord, that I am healthy and have the mobility to clean my kitchen this morning.”

And it works!

This morning I was up early, and I was thinking about having to go into the dentist at 10 a.m. to find out why I have a toothache in a tooth that had a root canal 90 days ago. If you are my friend on Facebook (and if you are not, it is not too late to friend me), then you unwillingly have been subjected to my love/hate relationship with dentistry.

In any case, I realized this morning that I don’t have to go to the dentist; I get to go to the dentist, and immediately my outlook changed like magic.

Sounds hokie until you try it.

Next time you are tempted to complain, or next time you hear a complaint from one of your dear offspring, share with them your magic words.  See if  “you get to” doesn’t help you/them get through that tough task.

Okay: I get to go to the dentist. I get to go to the dentist. I get to go to the dentist. I get to go to…

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