Happy "New Year" to Us!

As an independent educator who teaches my children at home, I believe that all of life is learning. So, in a very real sense, I've been a home educator since the moment of my older daughter's birth, and we "do school" the entire time each day that my kids are awake (and, perhaps, we ought to count their dreams, as well!).

I understand, though, that there can be a type of delineation between learning just by virtue of being alive and more "formal academics." But, even here, I run into a bit of a problem defining our "first day of school" each year, because I've adopted a year-round schedule for that type of learning, too. Thus, we don't take an extended summer vacation to clearly mark the end of one "year" and the beginning of the next; instead, though summer academics are "light" compared to that of the rest of the year and we do take time for seasonal activities, we simply take a number of shorter breaks from bookwork throughout a calendar year.

All that said, I also know that "firsts" are important; kids (and adults) need milestones by which to mark life experiences. So I decided about a year ago that our "school year" runs from August 1 through July 31, with a new academic core to begin on the first Monday in August...which, of course, was yesterday!

And we have a couple of "first day" traditions. First, the girls get dressed in the one new "not-back-to-school" (!) outfit I purchase for each - they made lovely choices this year and were especially excited about the purses! - and (happily, as you can see) pose for pictures.

Then we head off to IHOP to enjoy a special first day breakfast - I'm sure the whipped cream must give them a good, "nutritious" sugar-buzz to facilitate concentration and learning!

We made a special stop at Walgreens on the way home - to take official photos for the "passports" the girls will utilize in this year's studies - and then jumped into our new materials, listed here in another recent post. Our content core is My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC), which focuses on world geography, cultural studies, and ecology. We love My Father's World (MFW), having used it for the first time last year, and I've read wonderful things about the ECC program in particular.

However, I've also been told - accurately, I believe, even after the first day - that the first couple of ECC weeks are intense. It's not a problem with the curriculum; it's simply the "nature of the beast" as the children are introduced to a number of foundational geographical and ecological concepts. It all prepares the way for the rest of the course of study, but it can be overwhelming...and the girls and I all felt that yesterday.

But, thankfully, one blessing (among many) of home education is an ability to flex, however and whenever necessary. So, based on the experiences of others, I'd already "budgeted" almost three weeks to cover the two weeks' worth of introductory material. I did everything as listed on yesterday's plans just to see how we'd feel about it, but then last night I took the time to adjust things for our remaining 13 days, spreading out the work to make it more manageable. I'm confident that'll do the trick!

As I write, the girls are playing in the yard, where they've been all morning. I'd initially planned to "do school" starting early in the day as we usually do; however, the weather is beautiful now but will soon turn muggy and, perhaps, stormy. So I flexed in another way today, deciding that the bookwork can wait until the afternoon. And I'm looking forward to what Day 2 holds!


jenny said...

I love it. My path is different from yours, but I love the firsts you provide for your girls.

Harter said...

I loved reading this! Thank you so much for sharing with us!!

Hi, I'm Jami! said...

Happy New School Year to you! I love reading about other families who enjoy MFW as much as us. I hope you enjoy ECC as much as we did. Your first day traditions looked like fun!

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