When the homeschoolers finally have their ‘first day of school.’

I clicked the submit button. The confirmation email that shortly followed confirmed we were on the waitlist for the fall. But isn’t it funny how sometimes you can get surprised by things in life?

I was surprised when I got an email saying that three of my boys could start immediately at the one-day-a-week school where online homeschoolers can gather together for a full day of classes with teachers, desks, backpacks, lunches, PE… all of those regular ‘schooly’ things.

But I have four boys… and I wasn’t ready to say yes unless they all got in.

So imagine my surprise again when we were told that they could make space for my fourth son. His relieved grin lasted a few days.

“This hasn’t happened for several years where we’ve been able to place an entire family,” she said over the phone.

What a confirmation that we were supposed to be stepping into this. And what a chance for my kids to get a school experience – while still being homeschooled.

The only catch has been that this ‘school day’ is an hour away… in good traffic.

But we reasoned, “Let’s think of it like consolidated commuting… If we went to a school 20 minutes away, that’d be 40 minutes a day of drop-offs and pickups… times five.” And we also said, “Isn’t it better for us to drive for one day instead of dad driving for six?” Yes. We all agreed.

Now I wonder if you’ve ever tried to find school supplies in mid-February? Yeah, me neither. We’ve never had to outfit each kid for a school day; we’ve always enjoyed a communal backpack/water bottle scenario.

The first day arrived. I thought one of my sons was going to barf halfway through the drive, and it wasn’t my guy who can trigger his nausea just thinking about the inside of a car.

“It’s ok to be nervous,” I said.

I remember my first day of grade 9 after being homeschooled for all the grades leading up to it. I thought you had to be finished the homework the teacher wrote on the board before you got back on the bus that took you home. There I was, stressing and working through math problems while all my new peers were goofing off around me. I wondered if I’d make any friends or get the hang of how a classroom runs, and I knew I didn’t know all the rules for any of the stuff we’d play in PE. I was thinking about what shoes I was wearing, the lunch I had packed, and who I would sit next to on the bus and in the classroom.

We know we’re not part of the group of most kids who figured all this out during kindergarten; to all my fellow ‘late to school’ goers, I’m rooting for you.

But at the end of that first day of school, my youngest loudly declared (for the record, he loudly declares everything) “It was the best day ever!” My oldest didn’t seem so convinced, but he was willing to return the following week.

It’s hard starting something new, isn’t it? To submerge yourself into unknown waters when everyone has been swimming around in them for some time? Those guys are used to the temperature, potential underwater predators, how to adjust their goggles, and when to apply sunscreen.

They know how to take notes, how on earth a ‘station’ works inside a classroom, and they don’t get super rattled by hearing things like, “So next week we’ll start presentations on the empires and volcanoes we’ve been learning about.”

It’s been over a month now, and they’re starting to find the whole thing much more familiar. I’m so proud of my boys and their bravery. They all even look forward to it now.

“I like everything about it except for all the school parts.” So you like the breaks, the lunches, the people you hang out with, being friends with the kid who sells neat 3D printed stuff from his backpack… and maybe even playing badminton in the gym? Those parts? Yeah, I get you. Most of us liked those parts of school best.

Meanwhile, my life has changed a little too. After I drop the boys off, I do mom things like, ‘buy 13 loaves of seconds bread at my favourite bakery that’s nearby.’ And then I get to keep driving a little further to spend the day with my parents. We drink decaf, go on walks, shorten curtains, solve computer problems, and have rousing discussions about the Bible and everything else. I wonder if we all realize how unique it is to be experiencing a throwback moment to when I was the last of the four children still at home – when it was just the three of us.

But here’s the thing. This whole school year has been my hardest one yet. Four boys at four very different academic levels has gotten progressively more difficult. Online classes have been coming out of our ears, along with the many assignments that accompany that. There’s also those pesky house chores that still need to be done in between Algebra and English homework.

I had said, “I wish I could take them to the once-a-week school and ease my load a little.” That school that would cover all of their Socials, Science, PE, and Art for the little guys.

Crickets chirped for a few years on that idea.

It would be a good move for ‘the future.’ I continually thought as I continued to struggle.

Our support teacher arrived at our door and suggested the same thing. And I suddenly knew that God was easing me into something new, and that the future I had been referring to was ‘now.’ And so we applied, and then bam. You know the rest of the story.

Now suddenly, we’re doing something new that requires a different kind of effort but also provides another type of experience. A something new that was timely, providential, and absolutely needed for my kids AND me.

It’s a great gift to me to not have to give up homeschooling but to beautifully supplement what we’ve been doing all along.

There’s more balance to our lives already, and we’re learning to embrace the inevitable ‘sitting in traffic’ on our drive home. We fill that time and space with school stories, loud music, open windows on the freeway, and usually an entire box of crackers.

I’m glad I’ve learned to keep my eyes and ears open and that I have a willing heart to follow the path God is laying before us – even though it’s mostly been SO different from what I thought it would be. But I’ve seen His track record in my Bible AND in my life and He’s always been so faithful to lead and guide, and pull us out of the struggle.

I’ve always been asked, “Will you homeschool all the way through?!” And I’ve always answered the same, “We’re taking one year at a time.” I know I need to hold all of our schooling with an open hand. Yet somehow, all these years are closing in on a decade; half of the boys have already crossed the halfway mark. Time is such a remarkable thing.

2 thoughts on “When the homeschoolers finally have their ‘first day of school.’

Add yours

  1. Thank you, Rebecca! Sounds like a whole catalogue of wise decisions and blessings. I loved hearing about how this all fell into place, including the opportunity to spend a day each week with your mom & dad! Wonderful! Blessings all around, and the boys will surely benefit from their experience. Love you!


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