Tag Archives: back to school

What? No school this year?

6 Mar

Nope. This year we decided to homeschool. 

When we finally took the decision in the middle of last year, I yielded my husband’s good advice and did not advertise it. My heart wanted to share it with everyone I bumped into, but my head told me not to. I am aware that it can be a divisive topic and I certainly did not want to be that. So hush hush I kept it, until it was time to reveal our intentions. First to my mum (what do you mean ‘school at home??’ ), then to my husband’s mum (‘Homeschooling? I’m not so sure…’ ), then to my close friends (yes, they are still close friends) and lastly to strangers who asked (‘All THREE of your children?’).

Nonetheless, half a year after taking that decision and almost a term into the reality of it, I think it’s appropriate that it becomes official, i.e. Facebook status and blog!! One day, when I’m old and senile and my children want to know when and why and how and who and any other ‘wh’ questions regarding their homeschooling time, I will be able to say ‘Well my poppet, I … I… can’t remember. Just read our blog…’

So when? … It started when she was in Grade 3, he was in Grade 2 and he was in grade R. It’s easy enough because they are still so little that I don’t lose my sleep over their next maths lesson. And ‘when’, just to reassure my mum who might be freaking out, it’s e-ve-ry-day mum!! Counting, writing, reading, spelling, grammaring…Except some fridays but with good excuses to learn about something wider that the walls of our house, some Mondays because Killian goes to a technology club. Every now and then on a Tuesday because we run errands; and occasionally we skip Thursday because we don’t feel like working. Otherwise, EVERY other day!! (Just kidding mamaaaaannn!!!)

Why? … Because I had enough of saying ‘quickly’ and ‘vite vite’ to them, morning to evening, monday to friday. I wanted to switch to ‘just relax’ (of course it’s not all of the ‘whys’ but it certainly was a part weighing on my heart).

Who?… Of course my 3 children. Someone asked me if I had other kids as well, so I said ‘No, I didn’t start a school, I started homeschool’. That aside, the ‘who’ includes much more than me and my kids. I love outsourcing help, they make their life richer and mine easier, starting with art, music, wood work…

How?… With a complete curriculum that does all the work for me so that during the day I teach my kids, and in the evening, I can spend time with my husband ( and our housemate at the moment, wink wink…)

And voila! This is the summarized neat version of what is happening inside our walls this year. Emphasize on “neat” of course because the reality is always so much more murky 😉 Sometimes the ‘when’ is far too often, I wonder ‘why’, I can’t stand the ‘who’ and I’ve forgotten “how’.

But to finish on a positive note, I really enjoy homeschooling my kids and they seem to enjoy it too. And if only for these reasons, I am glad.

Butterflies and knots…

24 Jan

Six o’clock, quick footsteps run to the parents’ bedroom. Here stands a small six year old boy, looking very ready and impatient for the next phase of the morning. He’s lucky, his parents are also awake and on the go. They also feel a bit nervous. He looks so handsome in his new uniform. Excitement led him to get dressed, on his own, socks up high and a buttoned shirt, tucked in! His mind is already there, in that new place.

Behind him stands his older sister. She’s only older by 14 months but she’s a good head taller than him. But today, he feels much taller than he really is. Or maybe she feels much smaller than she really is. She can’t quite identify what she’s feeling. What are these strange knots in her tummy and the butterflies in her stomach. Butterflies are fairies in disguise, she says. Would fairies hide in her own body, she ponders…

They both make their way to the kitchen and the little brother is trotting along too, oblivious to the change of routine of that morning. He feels a bit left alone. He doesn’t have fancy clothes. It seems like much ado about nothing. Or isn’t it?

The time has now come. We make our way to the school. So many troubled emotions; if we could hear what goes on in everybody’s mind, it would be a cacophony of deafening laughters, cries and shouting… Children are meant to be in their lines. Lines, she asks? What line?

Some are in the wrong line, others don’t want to be in line.

Some want to be in a different line, others are completely out of line.

If only parents could get out of the lines! Eventually, she finds her own line.

Stressed and worried, and yet somewhat excited, she looks back one last time and waves bravely at her mum who leaves her. Those butterflies are now in her stomach too and the knots are tighter.  Léanna is now officially in Grade 2.

She’s comforted to know, in her heart that He will look after her

There’s no time to linger. She needs to see that impatient little 6 year old boy. He went at once to his class with his dad. Is he still excited? Does he feel overwhelmed? No, he’s there, already at his desk, proudly wearing his little name tag: Killian van Blerk, Grade 1.3.

Could she be a prouder mum at that instant? Probably not. Could he look more confident  and yet vulnerable at the same time? Undoubtedly not. It is time to leave.

She knows that He will look after him too

It was the first day.

C’est la rentrĂ©e…

17 Jan

Back to school! In french, we have a special word for it: la rentrĂ©e. Literally, it means “the re-entry”.

The mere thought of that plastic smell makes my heart beat faster, a drop of saliva forms at the corner of the mouth, I’m blinded by the sparkle in my eyes. Yes, I have a fĂ©tiche for new stationary!

My mind can’t help but go back a few 20 years ago: that feeling of nostalgia is here again.

It is the beginning of September, maybe only the end of August. The television abounds in ads for the new essential pens, the indispensable exercise books, the unavoidable fashionable pencil cases, making every child’s heart discontent with his own lot, jealous of his friends and endlessly nagging at his parents. The supermarkets are ready for the rush of over-enthusiastic kids and underpaid parents.

VoilĂ ! They’re all here, parents and children, list in hand, reading scrupulously the detailed desires and whims of the teachers: a small spiral exercise book, 24 pages (un petit cahier a spirales), a see-through drawing paper file (une pochette transparente de papier dessin), a soft-cover ring binder (un classeur), a big hard-cover book 96 pages (un grand cahier rigide)… It takes real skills not to be confused, it takes real patience not to scream. The once quiet shopping mall has become the floor of Wall Street, Stock Exchange. They’re going from one aisle to the next, pushing and pulling children, sometimes even their own, shouting at their spouse for not helping, whispering between clenched teeth that they will not buy that book with that picture, alas compromising on the pencil case with the attractive flavour of the month. It’s chaos, it’s a fighting field: the small kids tugging at their mum’s dress for attention, the teenagers trying to act as if they don’t know theirs, the two friends bumping into each other shrieking with delight, the grandma coming to replace her pencil crayon, oblivious to the parallel dimension she just stepped into.

At the cashier, the mountain of ‘fourniture scolaire’ piles up in front of the starry-eyed child. So many new belongings, all for him. He can’t remember when last he felt so ‘spoiled’. His heart is excited at what his mind hasn’t yet grasped; those white pages have to be filled with work, hours of work spent in the dim light of his desk lamp… but for now, he is over the moon with excitement.

Kching, Kching!!! The noise of the cash machine brings him back to reality. His excitement is disturbed only by the pale face of his parents, clearly unprepared for the exhuberant bill.

My palms get sweaty and I surprise myself wishing that I was 10 again, running through the aisles of that supermarket, begging my mum for this oh-so-necessary sharpener in the shape of a mermaid, or maybe just this rubber that smells like strawberry and finally throwing a caprice right there, embarrassing her in front of her peers, for that I-can’t-do-without pen that not only can write in more than one colour but also glows in the dark… No she will reply, those are only distractions.

Today, I smell my children’s new stationary, and the new plastic smell brings back, you know… the sparkle, the saliva, the fast beating of my heart…

Will I give in to the (non)essential heart-shaped rubber, or the glittery pencil case?

For myself I mean…

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