Back to School Sails




Back to school time is never picture perfect.

It’s a time of stress, yet excitement for most families.


How many notebooks do you need?

Do you really need $140 for a calculator? How much are you going to use it?

Why do you need folders in every color? There are no purple folders left. We’ll have to go somewhere else.


Conversations like these are usually met with moans and groans…..and that’s just from the adults.


It’s a stressful time. I know. Being a former classroom teacher and also a mother, I realize that the school supply lists ask for the world. It’s part of the schooling mix of misery and excitement; right?


Shopping for clothes is another area where misery and excitement are blurred. Clothing rules for schools can go from unbearable to lax in the span of a year. We’re in the process of finding the “right shorts” with the “correct number of pockets” for one kid and “I’ll pick up a couple of t-shirts later at Goodwill” for the other. It’s really quite interesting to examine the contrasts.


Later in the year, the oldest will come home with permission slips galore and requests for hidden fees. The youngest will have pretty much the same. The difference is I get to make those decisions and I’m certainly not going to waste the money on a trip where he’ll whine the whole time.


Excitement in learning will probably be science museums, star parties, or the Space Center; along with eating in ethnic restaurants or listening to a guest speaker. Although, these may provide a mix of misery and excitement.


After all, learning is supposed to be the excitement part while all of the prep is the misery. But, what happens when the reality of schooling flips the two? Sometimes, picking out a backpack and trying on shoes is the exciting part about going back to school.


My oldest son still attends a traditional school while my youngest and I are relaxed homeschoolers. It’s a mix that works for us as a family for now. Every one of us is in a different part of education and have different strengths and preferences for schooling. Our choice of schooling is always open to being changed or altered. After all, people have different needs. Why shouldn’t they all get the education they need; the one they deserve?


I truly believe there need to be different kinds of learning options-for everyone.


I’ve taught in classrooms where I knew by September there was no way I’d probably meet the academic needs of a certain child, times where a totally different design would have served a child better, and times where I knew my classroom style would fit someone perfectly. It’s kind of like choosing friends or co-workers. Sometimes it works, sometimes not as much.


School can be a time of misery, excitement, and both (yes, exactly in the same day).


It all comes down to learning needs. Are they being met?

Yes, and no on both counts. We know traditional classrooms can’t meet everyone’s needs every day, but neither can I. That really cool project I thought my son would be interested in gets scrapped before it ever begins. Student-centered learning is tough daily and not for the faint of heart. Just like classroom teaching can be oh, so rewarding; it can also be a struggle.


It would be much easier for my planning to force my son through a scripted boxed curriculum, but I’m not interested in the misery. I just couldn’t do that to him and all of his bright ideas. If I’m homeschooling, it won’t look just like school.


So far, the idea for Minecraft timelines, mapping from around the world, and tie-ins to earth science, finding patterns, and coding are on! I’m excited too! Knowing that he’ll be learning Java (to build Minecraft mods) is something to get excited about.


I have no idea what my oldest will be excited about and I’m hoping for a bit of student-centered learning for him too. We will have to wait and see. He knows he always has a choice with his schooling too.


As school is set to get started for both of my boys, I’ve got a mix of both misery and excitement. I’m guessing that throughout the year, they’ll both get a dose of both.


Either way, we’ll ride out the storms and though it won’t be smooth sailing, the view is already looking beautiful.




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