In just a couple days, the boys will be starting “back to school.” Not that we don’t homeschool pretty much all year round. In fact, we do. But in the summer, we go at a much more relaxed pace, sometimes doing nothing terribly organized for days at a time. Our school days are shorter when we do have them. We follow the children’s particular interests more often than not. Subjects that Steve dislikes tend to get pushed aside for several months in favor of his favorites such as science, history, and literature. We try to spend more time outdoors. We pick lots of berries in July. Melt in August. Visit the local zoos.
But despite the fact that we do school all year round, I still like to think of the end of August as back-to-school time, much like I think of sometime in May as “the end of the school year.” I like things that have a definite beginning and end. I look forward to May so we can slow down the pace of things and just chill a little. I always feel a little burnt out by the beginning of May, and I know Steve does too. I’m sure I get tired of making little red x’s on math worksheets nearly as much as Steve gets tired of solving for y.
After the long, lazy days of summer though, I look forward to the beginning of the school year again, to dive back in and learn new things. I like setting goals for the new school year. I enjoy making plans with my son regarding what he wants to study in the coming year. I especially love cracking open new (or new to us because I like buying used when I can) textbooks and buying school supplies.
Buying school supplies was always a favorite thing of mine when I was a child. (I still remember what my very first bookbag from Kindergarten looked like!) Even now I still get a little thrill from opening up a brand new box of crayons and seeing all their perfect little colored points sticking up out of the box. I love sharpening brand new pencils. I love opening up a brand new notebook and seeing that very first blank page waiting to be written upon. But I’ve found that the longer we homeschool, the less supplies we end up purchasing at the beginning of the school year. Part of it is that we tend to just buy things as we need them throughout the school year, but somehow it isn’t as fun that way. Part of it is that the boys don’t really need much. Steve is past the point where he wants anything to do with art supplies. He really doesn’t require much other than paper, pencils, and pens. Tobin of course is five. You would think he’d be going through art supplies and such like crazy, but he really has very little interest in much other than paint and clay, and even that stuff he uses sporadically. I am guessing that his paints might dry up before he actually gets through an entire bottle!
Even though the boys didn’t need much, I did buy myself something for the back-to-school season; I bought myself a planner. I spent 20 minutes in the bookstore of the student center flipping through the various planners and waffling between planners that included the weekends and ones that didn’t. Blue or black? Spiral bound? Notebook- sized or smaller? Decisions, decisions…
I told myself I was going to try to be more organized this year. (It’s one of those goal-thingies I was talking about earlier.) I am going to write things down and not have to hunt back through emails every time I want to remember when something is supposed to happen. It amuses me though; I’m curious to see how long this will actually last. I’m predicting that by late November, my planner will have found a permanent home in the deep, dark recesses of the backpack I take to work everyday, never to see the light of day again.
Of course, there is always next August. With August will come again the time to set up new goals and another opportunity to head out and buy new pencils, pens, and their ilk while everything is on sale and every other parent in the city is out shopping the same three aisles of the store at the very exact same time I am. Maybe I’ll just save myself some trouble and buy myself a box of crayons, but I won’t use them for coloring. Instead, every time the kids get on my nerves during the school year, I’ll open up my shiny new box of crayons and be transported to my happy place.