Friday, September 16, 2011

The Perfect First Week of School That.....Wasn't

Despite the fact that I am loathe to see summer go, I was excited to start school.
I had big plans for having everything in order and all my ducks in a row.
I imagined no laundry waiting to be washed, dried, folded or put away.
A sparkly clean bathroom.
A clean kitchen floor and only a few breakfast dishes to be loaded up before school began.
Beds made.
Kids dressed.
Groceries bought for the week.
Meals planned.
All that would mean I could sit down at the table with my students and have no other tasks weighing on me.

I could devote my attention fully to them.
And to teaching them.
I would be ready.
The month's copies would be made.
The French vocabulary flashcards would be ready.
Books ordered and in a neat stack.
Lessons planned for the weeks, months and even the whole year.
It was going to be amazing.

Instead, the week ended up looking a lot like this:

First of all, we were gone for all of Labor Day weekend.
Poor planning to be gone if you really want to be ready the next day, but I was good with it.
We needed to be away that weekend.
I figured I would be able to get things done the Friday before and the Monday night when we got home.
Uhhh.  No.
I couldn't even manage to get up much earlier than everyone else on Tuesday morning to get ready/catch up before our first nature study day of the year.
But I decided to roll with it.
After all, I had no choice.
And it was a great day.
A perfect first day.

But then along came Wednesday.
I awoke with a sinus infection that felt like I'd been beaten about the head all night long.
Every time I leaned over, snot ran out of my nose.
When I blew my nose, my eyeballs bubbled.
It was over 100 degrees outside.
So we closed off most of the house, turned our air conditioner on for the first time all summer and holed up in the dining room.
They slept in there.  
It was the coolest room in the house.
The kids were in their underwear.
I could hardly talk or even think.
I said, "school starts next week," and let them watch far too many episodes of Richard Scary's Busy Town.
After 2 days, they were going stir crazy.

I got quite a few emails after my first day of school post.
People telling me their first day was not easy.
That it was rough going.
And they were scared.
I could relate.

But also, I know that it's OK to cut yourself some slack.
Perhaps I have a unique perspective on homeschooling and on schooling in general.
You see, I've tried just about every kind of schooling you can have.
I went to a private, Christian elementary school until 4th grade.
Then I was home schooled.
I started junior college classes when I was 15.
I graduated high school at 16.
I went to a state university.
Then I taught public high school.
So I can say, with first hand knowledge, no one else is doing as much as you think they are.

There are lots of distractions, busy work and other tasks that we have to attend to all through the day.
At home or in the traditional classroom.
Your home school class doesn't have to look like a "regular" classroom.
You don't have to take as long to do school every day.
You probably have 2 students, or 3. (or 13, pam!)
It might take you 2 minutes to do calendar because things go much faster when your class is so small.
Or you might not even do calendar.
We don't.
(shhhh.  it's blasphemy, i know)

What I am trying to say is that I knew it wouldn't be the end of the world if we started school the next week instead of that one.
Part of being a teacher, whether at home or at a traditional school, is being flexible.
You never know when there is going to be a fire drill or when you are going to get mastitis. (that happened to me over the weekend. as I was getting better from the sinus infection.)
Things come up.
Go with it.
Read to the kids.
Do some math worksheets.
Let them play Legos and call "exploring future careers in engineering".
They will turn out fine.
I did.

We started school on Monday.
I was mostly better.
The house was kind of ready.
Being sick again all weekend long didn't help me get anything done, but I am seeing I will have to let some things go.
There is still laundry in the chair in the living room.
The month's poem, hymn, Bible verse and patriotic song are not yet hanging on the bulletin board.
But we still have had a great week.
I love teaching them.
I truly do.
And the heat wave broke.
They haven't watched a lick of tv.
And they're back to being able to play outside.
Which is good.
Davy was getting kind of tired of them.

See what I mean?
"Come on, Mom.  Help me out here."

As you look back at your second, or first, week of school, don't forget to give yourself grace.
I spent the first month or 2 of every school year teaching my 9th graders how to put the correct heading on their paper.
We all have problems.
Don't make yours bigger than they need to be.
Enjoy the time you have with your kids.
Have fun.
Happy weekend!
Love from,


Anonymous said...

you are going to be an amazing teacher.
You are already are.
Afterall....Kensington knew nothing about spiders until she met you.

Betsi* said...

God is truly teaching your children important things, kingdom things, through you, mama. Because at the end of this life, it won't matter whether they knew the difference between a business format letter and a personal one, a dangling participle or a misplaced modifier. What will matter is that they know Jesus and understand grace. Best. Teacher. Ever. <3

JDaniel4's Mom said...

It sounds like you are off to a great start! I am glad you are feeling better.

Kristine said...

Ah, Greta, I love reading your posts! Sorry about your infections. That is a stinker any time of year. But love your perspective, and what Betsi* wrote above. Kingdom things. That's what matters. Beautiful advice at the end. I think us homeschool moms in particular can be so hard on ourselves. Boy they grow quickly. Love letting them be children.

We had a few mornings of puppet shows put on by Nolan where the kids paid pennies for him to continue or to get front row seating. How could I interrupt that to start school?! No, we just started closer to lunch time and didn't get to half of what was on my plan, but it sure was more memorable than conjunctions. :)
Miss you, friend. Hope to see your darling brood soon.