Back-to-school time is generally thought of as only pertaining to families whose children attend school outside the home. However, there are between 1 and 2 million home schooled children in America, and they also often get back-to-school around the same time as the rest of the children in the country. Since more and more parents are considering home schooling each year, I thought it might be helpful to give insight as to what our back-to-school experience is like as a home schooling family.
My children, between them, have attended 16 years of public school. So, our family is very familiar with what back-to-school entails for those families whose children attend school outside the home. Undoubtedly, our back-to-school experience is different now in many ways, although readers might be surprised to find out there are still some similarities, as well.
For us, back-to-school time is a time we do what most other parents around the country do; we shop for notebooks, pens, crayons, and new clothes for the kids. We pick up new backpacks and lunch bags. We discuss our excitement about starting a new grade. But that is probably where the similarities end.
The night before we are going to get back-to-school, my children go to bed on time. There is no battle to get nervous, excited children to sleep. That used to be a real problem for us; the kids would be so anxious that they would lie awake half the night and be exhausted on their first day of school. Now, they fall asleep peacefully, knowing that the following day they will not face foreign curriculum, unfamiliar workspaces, or new teachers.
Most years we celebrate the first day of school by packing up some work in the new backpacks, packing a lunch in the new lunch bags, dressing in new school clothes, and then heading out of the house for the day. We usually end up in places like the park, a museum, or the library. Sometimes it’s a combination of all three! I take photos of the kids to commemorate their first day in a new grade. We pass the day by enjoying our time, enjoying the company of one another, and enjoying learning.
Often, we will come home from our first day of school, and head outdoors to play with friends who attend the public school my children once attended. They run, and play, and all of the kids talk about their first day of school. Getting back-to-school is a relaxed, enjoyable time for us. We get to casually say goodbye to Summer, and look ahead calmly to the school year ahead.