Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The First Day of School

Wow. This is a really long post. Feel free to just enjoy the pictures of our first day of school. Or, read along to discover more about our home school.
Here we go!
When James reached preschool age, we began to talk about home schooling. With all of his friends heading off to preschool, I wanted to be sure he understood why we were choosing home schooling and what it would look like for us. He accepted it whole heartedly and never expressed a desire for anything else. One of my sweetest memories is the day I overheard him telling someone, "home schooling is good because you get to be with your mommy."

Whenever people ask him if he's in school, or going to be in kindergarten, James casually responds, "yes, I'm taking home school." It is our normal. The only hard part for him is understanding why everyone else isn't "taking home school".
I realize I am making this sound like it is all so easy. In some ways it is. I was home schooled, so it is familiar to me. I knew long before I had my own kids that I would home school them. This belief was reinforced while I was a high school teacher. I've never doubted I would do it, but there was a time when I felt like I would be doing it alone.
Just 2 years ago I didn't have any friends that were planning to home school. I knew that the kids and I would all make new friends, that we'd find a group to be a part of, and that we'd find our place. Yet, there was still a part of my that wanted to continue on with friendships already in bloom, and to find a group in our own hometown. As our children grow, our lives become busier and take us in different directions. I usually look at change in a positive way, but I felt a real sense of loss as I anticipated growing apart from dear friends and their children. But God is gracious. As kindergarten has drawn closer, we have more friends considering home schooling. Today, in fact, we started off our school year with a field trip; a field trip with 20 some other kids. Some are old friends and some are new. I am so thankful for answered prayers.

Minutes into our field trip, something a little bit magical happened. The kids were off and running, but not before they all grabbed one another's hands. It felt so right to see them all together, ages 5 to infant, siblings and cousins and friends. It is one of my favorite things about homes schooling. What a precious reminder that this is exactly what I want to be doing.
We were at the Sea and Sage Audubon Society in Irvine. There are lots of ponds there and many birds who live on or near the water. Some of the kids stopped to chat with this gentleman bird watcher. He let them look through his telescope.

Just a ways up the trail, we saw our first bird: a Little Blue Heron. He wasn't very little. But he was really beautiful.
The kids slowed down their running, but kept inching closer until he gracefully stepped into the water. It was a great bird sighting and we were all excited.
There were lots of houses for the tree swallows, but we didn't see any out and about.
We didn't hike for too long. Besides sore feet, it was just a little bit too warm for a long hike.
Never too warm, however, for watching an excavator at work.

When we made it back to the picnic tables, everyone sat down for a snack and a cool drink. Then the next part of our "school" began. Most of the kids pulled out their drawing supplies and began to draw. It all happened so naturally. I am encouraged that we are already creating an environment where there is joy in discovery, joy in nature and joy in learning.
Even little Lils sat down to study her bird field guide.
When they tired of drawing, there was tree climbing and running around the butterfly path, general merriment and the chaos of 25 kids 5 and under.
This hawk landed in the tree right above our heads. I am pretty sure he is a Sharp Shinned Hawk. It was pretty exciting to see a hawk so close.

I'd say our first field trip with out home school group was a great success. As soon as we got in the car, James asked what we were doing tomorrow.

But the day wasn't over yet.
The boys wanted to go to the library to find books about the birds we saw at the preserve. Lilly was napping, so instead we explored the world wide web. That was a real treat for them since we are not big on computer time yet. We listened to the calls of the heron and the hawk and found a video of a heron catching a fish. Then we got out our markers, and our Little Golden Book of Natural History and did some drawings and narrations about our day.

William and I worked on his together. (And let me tell you, that is a BIG deal. William doesn't usually let anyone help him with anything. He will do it himself. And if he can't, well, then it won't be done. I guess his desire to complete the drawing overcame his stubbornness. What a treat!) He was pretty proud of the end result.
Both of them chose to draw the Little Blue Heron catching a fish. When Aaron got home they were so excited to show him their drawings and tell him about their day.

Speaking of Aaron, when he saw these pictures, he said, "Gosh, I really hope all those kids are going to get enough socialization. Aren't you all worried about that?"
Sorry for the sarcasm, but I've been fielding that question since I was in junior high. Maybe next time someone asks me that question in seriousness, I'll just whip out these pictures and ask them, " Should I be?"


Naomi said...

Congratulations on a fantastic first day! How momentous!! I am thrilled for you, your family, this group and this new journey you are all on!! I read this blog post a while back, I think it gives a glimpse of what happens to us all :)

Johnna said...

Your little CM nature study group looks as ours did 2 years ago with all the little ones. What a beautiful start to your homeschooling year! The little blue boxes will be filled with baby tree swallows and/or eggs in June. Also in June there will be wild blackberries to many as you want.

Mommy of three said...

Naomi, I read that post and that was what really lit a fire in me to move forward with Charlotte Mason. It described so exactly the vision I have for our school experience. Thank you for posting it here.
Johna, I can't wait for June!!! The boys have already expressed a desire to go back and explore more trails, so we'll be there before then too.
Thanks for your comments ladies!