Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homeschooling: Day 1

After years of thinking about home schooling and months of preparing and a whole summer of happily "unschooling," the day of reckoning has arrived. The school bus is going to pull into the neighborhood this morning to ferry all the children off to their first day of school, and our kids are not getting on.

Nell would have been in second grade, Simon in kindergarten and Ben in nursery school.

Mostly I am hugely relieved. I have always hated the first day of school. The ripped feeling in my heart lasts all day. All year, really. Such a brutal tearing asunder. The bus pulls up, the kids get on, the bus pulls away, and they're gone. Just gone.

On the other hand, Nell has always liked school. She used to come home exhausted and distant, but she still loved it. At least I think she did. I keep asking her if she is sad about not going back and she looks at me funny. She saw some of her friends from school at a birthday party last weekend, and she didn't seem particularly thrilled to see them. She moved comfortably between her friends and her brothers and me. A creature of both worlds.

I am making sure she gets lots of time to make new friends. We have joined several homeschool groups and classes: Mystic Seaport, Nature Center, Groton Library, piano lessons, homeschool sports. Looking at our schedule, I wonder when we will have time to get any Real Work done. (But Real Work is just a myth, isn't it?) Nell and Simon will start swim team next week. That will keep them both in touch with old friends.

I started homeschooling the boys yesterday. Nell said she would prefer to start today, the official first day of school. Of course, I honored that request. So she went up to her room to read and listen to her Fudgie books on tape while the boys and I did some math. Simon is working on Singapore Math, book 1A, and Ben has a Building Math Skills book by the Critical Thinking Co. designed for 3- and 4-year olds. He likes to do his workbook just like everyone else.

And then we all went for a hike at Beebe Cove. No one wanted to go. Everyone was crying getting into the car. But once they got there, they loved it. They "fished" with sticks, climbed rocks, and walked about a mile around the lake. Actually, Nell and Simon walked. I carried Ben most of the way. He got stung by a bee (as did I) and decided he could no longer bear his own weight. It was easier to carry him than to argue that point.

Later in the evening I was able to sneak a bit of Real Work into Nell's brain. We read the first chapter in the first volume of Joy Hakim's much praised The History of US. She grumbled a bit, and then she loved it.

Me: We'll just read 2 pages, Nell

Nell: Oooooooo-kaaaaaaaay.

Nell: (after 2 pages are up) Can we read a few more?

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