It’s back to school today for our son, William, and a whole lot of other children in our state. Do you remember that first day of school feeling? I remember very clearly the first day of kindergarten, which was the most thrilling event imaginable. Every year, I never could sleep the night before that magical first day. Everything was laid out to wear, and the new school supplies were all packed away in our book bags, and our lunches were packed and waiting in the fridge.
It was of the utmost importance what one wore on the first day of school. A false step could ruin the whole year, I used to think. Back then, girls had to wear dresses at our Lutheran school, so much attention was paid to just the right dress and matching socks. Mom would also get new hair yarn for the end of my braids. Finally, my sister and brother and I would give our mother hugs and get out the door to walk the two blocks to school.
Walking into our new classrooms was about as exciting as things got. I was a neat freak and setting my new desk up was done with military precision. I once saw a teacher empty out a school desk by shaking it upside down because some messy kid finally pushed the limits. The sight of that humiliation always stayed with me, and I wasn’t about to have that happen to me. I relished the newness of the notebooks and folders, and the smell of the new crayons and markers. Then there were the new kids. It was always exciting to find out that some new students had arrived. I loved elementary school, every minute of it, and nothing beat that first day of school for excitement.
Not everybody goes off to school these days. Thanks to the proliferation of home education, some children don’t have to go far for school. Will started school this morning. I snapped a photo of my scholar in his school area. He is a distance student for Abeka Academy, and his teachers are on DVD on a laptop. His desk unit has everything he needs with his text books and test keys at the ready. He enjoys being in control of his education, so he gets up early and begins school before most kids are eating breakfast.
This method allows enormous flexibility both for Will and our family. If we want to take a week and travel somewhere, we can schedule it in. He is also able to take music theory and performance classes at the conservatory one morning a week, work on his model ship building and do his piano practice, and still be able to get his work done. He is especially looking forward to his first football practice tonight. A local home school league plays many of the middle schools in our area and he is raring to go.
Will, too, gets excited about first day of school, but I have to say it’s sure a different world than when I was a girl. Bricks and mortar schools no longer have the lock on an excellent education. Thanks to technology, I can bring a private school into our home, provide flexibility for our family and for a fraction of the cost of a traditional private education. It makes me grateful for the home education pioneers who fought for the right of parents to take control of their children’s education.