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(Not) Back to School

coloured pencils
It’s official: we are now bonafide homelearners.  Come this September, my daughter’s age mates will all be marching down our street to attend kindergarten at the local school and we will be rousing our sleepy heads from bed.

One experienced homeschooling mom told me that the most difficult time she’s ever gone through as a homeschooler was the 2 weeks leading up to and following the start of school when her eldest was kindergarten age.  Well-meaning friends, neighbours and strangers were constantly asking whether her daughter was excited about going to kindergarten.  Nothing like defending your choice to homeschool 100 times a day to stress a mom out.

How are we handling back-to-school season?

Back to School shopping.  Even though Bea won’t be carrying a backpack full of school supplies to the local school, she will still need pencils, notebooks and coloured paper to play and learn with at home.  And a new outfit wouldn’t be a bad thing either.  So I plan to do a special mom and daughter back to school shopping date, both to stock up on supplies and to recognize the fact that she’s entering a new stage.

Connecting with other homeschoolers.  Every year there are huge Not Back to School picnics and park days for the homeschooling community in my area, and I’m planning on going to as many of these as we can this year.  Besides being a fun day spent playing outside, these picnics are a wonderful place for me to connect with other likeminded parents.  I feel less like an outlier in my neighbourhood when I’m well connected to the homeschooling community.

Don’t ask don’t tell.  Whenever someone asks whether Bea will be attending the local school in the fall, I tell them she’s enrolled at the school that coordinates our homelearning program.  I know we’re lucky in British Columbia to have the choice to enrol with a Distributed Learning program or be completely independent homeschoolers, so this might not work for homeschoolers in other places.  But I can honestly tell a stranger that my daughter is enrolled at this particular school and bypass the homeschooling discussion entirely if I want to.

Starting kindergarten is a huge rite of passage, and on some days I feel like my daughter will really miss out by not sharing that experience with her age mates. But then I remember all the reasons homeschooling is right for us and I am reassured of my choice. Choosing our own rituals, connecting with our community and avoiding pedagogical arguments with strangers helps me feel confident that we’re getting off on the right foot this fall.

How are you getting ready for back-to-school season?

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Theresa August 6, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Hey Michelle,
    Have you seen this picture book?…
    http://www.homeschooladventurebooks.com/

    It’s a really positive story about a 5-year-old boy and his homeschooling family. Anise just loves it, and it has helped her understand why we are choosing this educational path. If you’d like to borrow our copy, just let me know.

    • michelle August 6, 2011, 2:39 pm

      Hi Theresa! Thanks for mentioning that book, it looks great! I’d love to borrow it sometime. :)

  • Dawn August 6, 2011, 10:50 pm

    Like you, we are with the DL program and I love that I can say Cayden is going to a (part time) kindergarden to some people and to others say we are homeschooling, depending on my mood/their mood etc.
    Are you planning on attending the two days a week? I hear they are both optional full days starting Sept.

    We are also going to MEC and buy Cayden a bigger backpack and pass down his smaller MEC pack to Luke. It will be nice to have a bit more room, for a lunch, jacket and other supplies. He’ll probably need a new pair of shoes too.
    I LOVE buying ‘school’ supplies so I’ll probably have to restrain myself from buying too much. But I love that we can wait to buy things until after school has started and get them at crazy cheap prices, cuz you know that things will be 50% off or lower after Sept 6th.

    • michelle August 8, 2011, 9:48 pm

      Hi Dawn – I think we’ll give the classes a shot and see what everyone thinks. I don’t have my mind made up one way or the other just yet!

      Good point about waiting until after the first day back to school to hit the sales. I too love stationary supplies… I could fill shelves and shelves with blank notebooks and art/writing supplies. I have seen some gorgeous pictures online of various “ateliers” – art and learning rooms based on the Reggio Emilia style of early childhood education. I totally want one in my house!

  • Carollida March 19, 2012, 8:16 am

    I did a distance learning program in the beginging of our homeschool adventure. I was so hurt and upset by many homeschoolers that told me I wasn’t a homeschooler. (I was a public schooler at home I was told) I struggled with making connections because of this huge divide. I eventually pulled my daughter and went to traditional homeschooling which was the best thing I could have done for her. She had some learning issues, and she was being pushed too hard with the distance learning.
    Currently my oldest has completely overcome each of those challenges but we haven’t gone back to distance learning. There are days I think we will. I think homeschooling has just become so routine that I am afraid of losing that comfort.
    Also no matter when I did the distance learning or homeschooling I have learned to get out of the questions regarding their school. I came up with a name, added academy after it and when asked we say ” we/they go to —- academy”. We simply state its a private school where we live. Fortunately, people don’t think to much about where we are located.

  • Michelle March 28, 2012, 9:41 pm

    Hey! :)
    I just had to respond when I saw your post. My daughter is in Kinder this year and I am homeschooling. I began posting pictures and activities, books, etc. for each of our themes on my blog and it seemed to get some positive comments from other mommies so I am still doing it. :)
    I too wanted to make our first day of homeschool just as special as any other child’s first day of school so that morning she had a special breakfast, and I had a treasure hunt for her which ended in her finding her bag of new school supplies (I like to wrap some up like presents for her to open) and a set of new clothes for her “first day” of Kinder!
    I think homeschooling can be just as fun and even more than a regular classroom environment! :) Now I just have to figure out what to do about having a Kinder grad with just my daughter. Any suggestions?

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