Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School: The 2011 Edition

The last two days have been filled with back to school activities.  K14 went back to high school yesterday.  H12, S9 and M7 eased back into school today.  I wasn't really ready for summer to be over.

K14 was so excited to be back with her friends.  After her somewhat isolated summer she was anxious for outside activity and contact.  She left for school with a new Marvel Comics back pack and a spring in her step.  I wasn't sure I was ready to let her out of my sight.  Being the mother of a teenager is so much more difficult than being the mother of a toddle.  With toddlers you can pick them up to keep them safe.  It's so much more complicated with teenagers.

On K14's first day of school, the rest of us spent the day playing, talking, watching movies and hanging out.  We have a tradition of celebrating the first day of school by not beginning school.  Usually we only start a day or two later but we all enjoy the ability to decide when we begin.  After K14 got done with school we picked her up for an orthodontist appointment.

In our last two homes, we've had driveways that have allowed me to write welcome home and happy first day of school messages for the kids.  This home has no concrete, except in the barn.  I don't know if anyone except me missed that tradition.  No one mentioned it.

We returned from the orthodontist by way of the grocery store so that I could gather the things we needed to make our first day of school tea party.  It's another tradition that we enjoy and our change of location didn't impare our ability to throw a wonderful tea party.

During the tea party, we heard all about K14's friends, teachers, school life and plans for the year.  She was excited about her day and happy to be back in school.  Even a new dress code couldn't put a damper on her return to school. 

K14's second day of school became the first day of school for the rest of us.  We talked about waiting until Monday but decided that easing into it might be better.  We didn't complete every subject but we did do more than 50% and things seemed to come back pretty easily.  It felt like stretching muscles that we hadn't used in awhile and we were all pleased to find out that the muscles are still pretty toned.

Our day began with flash flood warnings and the rescue of 100 drowning chickens.  We were able to save the chickens and as H12 said, "That's a skill you'd never get in public school."  She's so right.

The biggest change summer brought was in M7's reading ability.  When we finished school last spring, reading was still a chore that required sounding out every letter.  Rather than pushing her through the summer we took a real break.  The only reading she did between May and yesterday was purely for her fun and enjoyment.    Today we picked up The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and continued at Lesson 115.  She flew through it.  During the summer, something clicked for her.  She began reading cereal boxes, billboards, books, magazines, anything that crossed her path really.  She read because she could not because she had to.  Sitting next to her today and listening to her read was such a blessing.

H12 surprised even herself when it came to Analytical Grammar.  She started Section 2 today.  She took one look at the pages and decided she couldn't remember any of it.  After lunch and some reading time we sat down together with the book.  In less than an hour she realized that not only did she remember what she'd learned last year but that she was quickly learning more.  Another blessing of the day.

We finished our school day with the read aloud book we started a few weeks ago, Charlotte's Web.  We'd read a few chapters here and a few chapters there but like so much during the summer our reading lacked focus and discipline.  After a morning of torrential downpours and flooding, the afternoon was glorious.  Sunshine, blue skies, temperatures in the high 70s.  Gorgeous.  We took Charlotte's Web outside and read the last five chapters in the sunshine on our own farm.  We enjoyed the outdoors and remembered our trip to the fair just last weekend as we read about Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte.  I originally selected the book with M7 in mind but S9 enjoyed it much more than his sister did.   

Our school year has begun.  I know day one isn't necessarily a valid predictor of the year to follow but a good first day sure can't hurt.

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