Learning to Read is Fun

First Day of School - Homeschooling Style

By: Kirsten

On Monday, August 28th, the school buses pulled away from the curb, and somewhere in Rancho Cucamonga, a public school started, and Nicki was here at home - Our Homeschooling Adventure had begun for real! At long last, here was the day that I would begin homeschooling my first homeschooled child, little Nicki.

Even though I had spent the past five years talking about this day, planning for this day, and wondering about this day. I admit that I got cold feet the weekend before August 28th. I thought to myself, "Oh my goodness!" "What was I thinking?" "Am I insane?" "What if I ruin his life?" "I can't teach!" And, "Maybe I should just go quickly put him in school and try not think to about it!"

School Pictures

But, I calmed myself down, and on Tuesday, August 29th, we had our very first day! I even took, "First day of school pictures," in front of the house, as I have done every first day of school with my older public-schooled sons. Nicki happily shouted to all the neighbors, "Today's my first day of Homeschooling!" I grinned as they nodded their heads in pleasant confusion and bewilderment!

Now, at the end of week one, I can honestly say, "Oh, my, we are having so much fun!" I can teach! He is listening to me! And we are having fun!

First Day Gitters

I can't believe it! Before we started, I had thoughts and fears such as, "What if I can't think of anything to teach him?" "What if I am too lazy?" But, instead the opposite is happening! The more we do, the more my own tired, old brain cells begin to slowly fire up back into action, and I remember all the wonderful things there are to learn. Now I want him to hurry and learn, because there is so much more to learn.

On Nicki's first day, I had no plan, no idea what I was going to do, but I had a heart full of hope and passion to do my best, even if it didn't work. I said a prayer, and we began. I didn't even know what style of homeschooling we would do. In other words, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But, we began anyways, and I pretended to Nicki that I knew what I was doing.

After starting, I must admit, that so far, we are definitely leaning more into the "School At Home," style, which is really surprising to me, because I had always thought we would be eclectic. We have a "classroom." It used to be our lovely dining room. Nicki and I had so much fun getting our classroom ready.

Converted Classroom

We spend our days in our dining-room-turned-classroom learning, the hours flying by, and I think to myself, "This is so natural. This feels so good. This feels so right, and true, and I truly, unconditionally, know that this is at it should be for us."

Surprisingly, I am finding that the routine and structure of a planned school day is working well for us, maybe because the events of life in years gone by have given Nicki and I enough chaos, and the order and routine of a structured school day is calming, peaceful and comforting. We do devotionals, prayer, pledge and calendar. Then we do writing. Then we even do "recess," a walk around the block. Then, we eat a snack, and we do numbers, art and reading. And then, "school" is done for the day! Oh, homeschooling is such a wonderful way to learn and teach!

Most importantly, as I teach little Nicki, I am overwhelmed by the intensity of how much help he needs, and I realize that in the classroom, he would be so lost and alone. He clearly needs much one-on-one help with writing. But, in his numbers he easily sailed past counting to 100, and then wanted me to teach him about negative numbers! In a classroom, he would be lost at writing without the intense one-on-one direction of having his mom-teacher to help him.

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Designer Teaching Plan

Perhaps they would label him "delayed," at writing, and make him feel like a failure right from the start in Kindergarten. And in numbers, no one would care about how much he loves his numbers, or how well he does his numbers, because it would be far more important to collectively teach the class "Kindergarten Appropriate Mathematics." I feel like we have accomplished in a week, what would have taken a month at school.

The most wonderful thing about all of this is that, as the baby of three brothers, Nicki has always been the one scurried about to and fro, caught up in the fast paced hustle of his older brothers' lives. Time with Nicki, is sometimes, sadly, just what's left over - after the dishes, after the errands, after the challenging oldest brother, always after...

If Nicki were in school, he would be away eight hours a day from his loving family, with precious few hours left in the day. Instead, Nicki has Mom all to himself for four solid hours where nothing else matters in the world. The phone can ring, the dishes can pile, but right now we are doing school. I can see Nicki blossoming right before my eyes! Truly, as his wobbly letters get just a little stronger each day, and as he recognizes his ABC's just a little more quickly each day, so, too, does his little spirit grow and bloom, his confidence soaring.

I don't know what the future holds, if we will homeschool forever, or just day by day. I know that we are only one week into our journey. Maybe it won't always be this fun, or go this well. Perhaps our homeschooling style will change many times. All that I do know is that this last week has been the happiest week I have known in a long time!

I am so happy that I had the courage to try this, and I am so grateful to all the homeschoolers we met on the road to this day, that paved the way before us, and always cheered, supported, encouraged, and taught me that, "Yes! We can do this!"

Posted: September 11, 2006