Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back To School

Thanks for the welcome, Jakki. I hope that I can be a worthy contributor. I will start with a topic that is very close to me right now. School.

Though not an actual holiday, it is an American tradition. When summer light and warmth starts to wane, kids know that school is around the corner. Amazingly, they are usually pretty excited and eager for it, even though it means the end of sleeping in late and lazy days.

For us, however, it doesn't mean getting up early, fixing lunches, and getting on the yellow bus in the chill of morning, for we homeschool. This notion is nothing new in our country, but I still get "looks" and "awe" when the realization comes to light. (I'm sure this has much to do with having 10 children; 7 of them students.)

But it has become a way of life for us now. That doesn't mean it's easy -- far from it. It's overwhelming, exhausting, and the burden I sometimes feel when I think that I have to get 10 children through all grades of school and through all subjects in each grade almost crushes me.

But the early enthusiasm helps set the tone as a new school year falls upon us. The kids are eager for more structure; even our teen is eagerly embracing our schedule. We can only handle so much freedom -- for us, that quickly equals CHAOS! And that means stress. It's odd to think that summer could be more stressful than homeschooling 7 children, but that is a real danger.

Now, even though our kids homeschool, they still love the typical rituals of getting new notebooks, crayons, folders, pencils, and curriculum. I, personally, get a special thrill from the sight of brand-new reading and workbooks. (I even forget, for a moment, that I just spent $500 to purchase it . . .)

To make our first day even more special, we like to take the kids out to Dunkin' Donuts. This is a rare treat, so it is greeted with joyous anticipation. (Ah, it's the simple things in life.) It's even more fun when Dunkin' Donuts makes special donuts for the seasons and holidays! Right now, you can enjoy the chocolate covered variety with fall sprinkles on top.

If you are nowhere near a Dunkin' Donuts (which seem to largely exist on the east coast), I'm sure that other bakeries provide special goodies like this. Another idea is to make cupcakes. Now, we make cake all the time and the only real difference between cake and cupcakes is little cakes versus slices. But kids think that cupcakes are squeal-worthy, so we make them on special occasions. Since we already got the donuts on the first day of school, we will make the cupcakes on the first day of Fall, using the Cake Mate brand sprinkles (that you can find at most Wal-Marts and other grocery stores.)

For extra-fun, add these:

Thus begins our "new year." It's little things that make it special for all of us. It's extra-special to start on Labor Day as dad is home to be a part of the festivities. (Yes, one of the benefits of homeschooling is choosing your start and end days for convenience.) Even if school has already begun, keep in mind that these special rituals, though seemingly minor, really resonate with children. You would be surprised that it is things like this that they remember years later and come to look forward to each year. God bless you on your journey whether your kids learn at school or home!


Sally said...

We do the Betty Crocker Fall Cake and cute!

Jakki said...

We recently picked this one up at Ross Stores for $2.99. Just happened to make a cake this weekend and we each picked the sprinkled we wanted for our slice! Spooky Sprinkles

Kristin said...

I have to admit that I can't eat sprinkles -- on cake, ice cream, anything . . . blech! But kids LOVE them!

haffnewie said...

Love this idea of a combined blog for you and your sister Kristin!It's great! I hate sprinkles, but my kids too, think they are wonderful!

Jakki said...

I don't think they really taste like much, but they sure are cute!