Back to School Blues

27 Sep 2017

Wow. What a crazy, busy summer we've had in our household! It has been packed full of VBS, summer camp, house guests, mission trips, registering my oldest for college, and a few lazy days by the pool. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, including summer break. Between unexpected events and a good bit of procrastination, I keep pushing back the start of our new year. It would seem I have a touch of the "back to school blues!” To ease the pain, I thought a little fun would help! Below are five popular company slogans and a few thoughts on how they apply to the new school year.

1. Just do it. I spend a lot of time planning mentally, but eventually the time comes to committing it to paper and launching it into reality. We will soon begin our fourteenth-year homeschooling, and I've learned a little secret: I'm never 100% ready for the start of the year. Whether it's a few books we still lack, a half-filled planner, or simply life, I reach a point where I must take the plunge, and just do it. Yes, it's painful, especially the first week as we transition from carefree, go-with-the-flow days back to a regular schedule. After a couple of weeks and a few tweaks, the initial shock wears off, and we find our groove.

2. Have it your way. A sound piece of advice to newbies and a gentle reminder to seasoned homeschoolers: don't try to duplicate someone else's school. Tailor it to fit your family and customize it for your unique needs! There is great wisdom in seeking advice from other homeschool moms, and the market is flooded with amazing curriculum choices. What works for your friend, or is suggested in the teacher's manual, may not work for you. No single idea or philosophy is one-size-fits-all. I’ve also found that what worked well last year may not suit our needs the following year, and I often don’t realize this until we are a few weeks into our year. My suggestion is to write in pencil and be flexible!

3. Imagination at work. Psychologist Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, asserts that “…children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion.” Obviously, every homeschool parent wants their children to succeed academically, but may I remind you that sometimes the education we as parents received is our own worst enemy? It has become so engrained in our thinking that if students are not seated quietly in front of a book or writing an essay they aren’t learning. If we want to raise children who will truly change the world, then we need to give them an abundance of time to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

4. At the corner of happy and healthy. This thought is a reminder to tuck away for a rainy day. You know, one of those days when the baby won’t stop crying, the older kids are starting WWIII, the dog yacks on the floor, your husband is running late and can't find his keys, and you just want to run away—all before 8AM! Yes, despite our best intentions, those days happen. Rather than locking yourself in the bathroom and having an emotional meltdown laden with thoughts of guilt and failure, remind yourself of what matters: your kids are happy and healthy, and they love you. Cancel school for the day, go find a good cup of coffee, and spend the day at the park.

5. Make the most of now. A friend once commented, "the days are long, but the years are short." Although, she was referring to parenting, the same is true of our homeschool journey. You will never have this day again. Tomorrow, your children will be one day older and one day closer to leaving the nest. Even though you may think it won’t come soon enough, I promise it will. I remember how excited I was when all the littles could buckle themselves into their car seats. The reality of the cliché, “that seems like only yesterday,” hit me full force this past June when we had the bittersweet joy of graduating our oldest child—something I wasn’t entirely ready for. Hold those babies as close as they will let you. Savor the moment, seize the day, embrace the season!

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