Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First Day of Home School Traditions

We survived! Yesterday was our first day, and despite being unexpectedly rainy (it rains in August in Texas?!?!), I was so pleased with the fun and diligence we enjoyed. Honestly, our first day of school is full of so many traditions that we don't actually get in a full day of academics, but I am okay with that when I see the smiles on my children's faces. Those first day smiles stick in my mind for the many times later in the year when they declare, "I hate school!"

The past several years, at least four years according to my Facebook memory from today, we have started our home school year on the Feast of the Assumption. It is usually a Holy Day of Obligation and therefore forces me to get us to Mass on the first day of school and gives me the chance to beg Our Blessed Mother to ask the Lord to fill in the gaps where I am inadequate to homeschool my children. Today it was not obligatory for us, but we went anyway. I had to meet some ladies from my daughter's co-op at the Cathedral this afternoon, so we chose Mass there. There is no narthex, and it was raining outside. But I hid at the back near the doors for most of the Mass, trying to keep my two youngest boys from making too much noise, enjoying my little purgatory.

But before Mass, we began our day with a run to the local donut shop for a first or second breakfast, depending on age, as is traditional for us. The kids inhaled their sugar and a few sausage rolls for protein and jammed to the upbeat (but occasionally inappropriate) music playing. Unfortunately for me, the sweet lady who worked there kept giving us free donuts and donut holes as we ate. Sigh.

When we arrived back home, I gave the children their schultutes, which I lovingly throw together around 1am the night before each first day of school. These cones from the German tradition (on my dad's side) include treats, school supplies, and small toys. It is always fun to shop all summer long for special gifts to tuck inside. For example, my daughter's favorite gift was a huge set of colored Sharpies. My youngest son loved his Melissa and Doug Water Wow book! I did manage to make adorable Pinterest-worthy candy pencils, but my motivation was to steal my kids' Rolos later (as in after I publish this post!).

This year I only took a group photo before they dove into their cones, although I typically try to get individual shots. Also in their schultutes were the First Day of School interviews I asked them to complete (I used these this year). I interviewed the younger two and asked the older two to fill in their own. A few of my favorite answers:

  • When I grow up I want to: play (3-year-old)
  • My favorite book: Aggie football (3-year-old)
  • Something I want to do this year: flip upside down (6-year-old)
  • My favorite thing about myself: playing with [my younger brother] (6-year-old)
  • When I grow up, I want to: work at an ice cream shop (11-year-old)
  • Something I really don't like: school (11-year-old)
  • My favorite book: too many to list (13-year-old)
  • My favorite thing about myself: I'm irrational (13-year-old)
Our school day almost always begins with Morning Basket. Today's basket only included prayer and read aloud, because I knew we had to get to Mass at noon. I keep prayers with my kids relatively short, so we prayed one decade of the Chaplet. We are now reading aloud our chosen books both in morning basket and after our evening Rosary decade, because we want to finish more quickly. I keep those readings short, too. There will be more Morning Basket on other days, of course!

Then each child went through their new schoolbooks with me and heard a bit about how to complete and submit assignments. This year was super simple thanks to the My School Year reports I had waiting in their crates. The oldest two were eager to get started and dove right in despite some grimaces, and I pulled out some stories to read with the younger two.

We had a pleasant surprise on our way home from Mass when I picked up the mail and discovered that one of the stories my husband had read and recorded a few weeks ago at the USO where he is stationed as a part of the United Through Reading Military Program had arrived. So, Dad read There's a Wocket in My Pocket! by Dr. Seuss to everyone via DVD as an afternoon read aloud.

That last photo in the collage above could be a summary of our first day today, full of fun and grace and kid chaos. Taking inspiration from a dear friend, I decided to buy a small chalkboard and attempt to post a new inspirational quote each week. Not knowing we would enjoy a Seuss story this afternoon, late last night I wrote:
You are off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way! ~ Dr. Seuss
Sometime this morning, my daughter snuck over and added a line to the bottom:
I don't want to climb a mountain today.

If you are a homeschooler, when do you start this year and what are your first day traditions?

No comments: