The first day of school is rapidly approaching, oddly enough without the sense of urgency I had expected. Unlike the parents of students going to public school, I can set my own start date. I also am not scrambling to buy up school supplies according to an exact list. Don't get me wrong, we've been slowly acquiring supplies over the summer. We already have paper of all varieties, writing implements, scissors and the like. We also acquired a few curriculum workbooks made specifically by Canadian public school teachers for reinforcement and enrichment of their programming that I'm going to use as a kind of benchmark for my daughter's learning in tandem with my own lesson plans. We also found, blessedly on sale, a collection of flash cards for early math, french vocabulary (because YES, I will be teaching my daughter the equivalent of core french), as well as sight words, which I am especially excited about. The great thing about these cards is that, unlike the workbooks which will be written in and then be done (it would cheaper to buy new ones than to photocopy the pages), I can reuse the flash cards for years to come. We also picked up a really great map of the world which includes the flags of all the countries. Seems silly, but I can't imagine a school room without one. Geography is such an essential part of education, even from the start. Kids always need to know the world is bigger than their classroom.
The other side of the first day of school jitters I know I'm missing is that of the teachers in our overwrought public school system. While they face a year of learning as few as 27 new names, preparing worksheets, tests, and permission slips, I have the distinct pleasure of already knowing every member of my class. I know how she learns, and I happen to know her parents personally. When I want to take a school trip, I won't need a week's notice. Maybe an hour or so because I'll need to check the bus schedule. I also don't have to worry about getting angry notes or visits from parents who don't approve of my teaching style or what I'm teaching. I can, however, fall more in love my sweet little student, give her hugs and kisses without fear of it being deemed inappropriate. When she's sick, I'll know well before it's time to take attendance. I also don't have to work as hard as the teachers in the public school system, who have to carefully manage their time to fit everything they need in a day. I don't have to worry that I haven't been able to spend enough time with each of my students comprehends the material. Because I won't have to stretch myself between 27 or more students, each unique and needing of different learning styles, I have the opportunity to tailor a program to just my child, a program that can grow and change with her. As I steadily prepare for the new year, I can't help but give a tip of my hat to all the public school teachers. They are truly making gold out of straw, and deserve our utmost respect for the good works they do.
For the next few weeks, as our excitement grows, we're working on what we'll be doing her first day of school. We want her to feel like this a special milestone, and to do activities that we can do the first day of school every year that she homeschools. We have a few projects in mind to fill our day. Because we want her Daddy to be there, we've planned the day of school to be on Labour Day, which is a holiday for him. So far we have the requisite first day of school picture, including fancy first day of school outfit. Next up we'll be doing a mould of her hand (and that of all her siblings because we want them to feel special too!). After that we'll be planting a garden box that we'll nurture as one of our nature projects during the year. I also plan to include a reading of Dr. Seuss' "Oh the Places You'll Go" and a picnic at a park down by the water if the weather permits. That will fill up most of the "school" parts of the day. The rest we'll spend like any normal day, being wild, loving, noisy, messy and fun. I know that the first day will be easy and wonderful. I know that every day after will be harder, but incredibly worth it.