The significance of the first day of the first grade didn’t sink in until the night before. Even then, it was just a taste of it. As I was putting the girls to sleep, we talked some about the start of school which was the next day and it HIT me. My girls, age 6, are starting first grade!! Tomorrow! And I’m the teacher! Starting school is as central as the sun around here, with time devoted to planning and organizing, chit-chats and anecdotes, but nonetheless I didn’t know how to absorb the reality that we were here. Still don’t…
The girls naturally asked about my own experiences with first grade. I embraced humor and left a bunch out! First grade with Sister Patricia wasn’t cozy and warm. It was stern and serious, straight back and hands on the desk. It wasn’t colorful and it was indoors. There were scary times and lonely times, but also as the months and years in school went on, a place of refuge. I drummed up the latter- that I loved learning from early on and that school was where I learned new things. I appreciated the order and expectations, the routines and predictability. Naturally I began to think, what will first grade be for the girls?
With homeschooling being an extension of our home life, it is hard NOT to say that I hope they feel loved and supported in their schooling. I hope this year is fun. I expect there will be challenges and I hope they can work through the frustrations AND remember the successes. I recall reading in the first grade- how draining and slow and HARD it was initially, but then I remember reading my first LONG book in the 2nd grade and telling EVERYONE about it. Bunnicula— what a fun read! I want there to be lots of downtime, to play and just be together, to bike around our neighborhood, spend hours at the library, play at the creek. I hope we can take naps together, too. I imagine there will be moments of inspiration and I can’t wait to follow their lead (like Saturday night’s dinner). I recall fondly hours at the playground and I look forward to giving that to them, too.
So for our first day I planned a small ceremony. After a small circle time, I took them to a special little park (closed eyes on the way) near our home where the creek runs beautifully and there are grassy lawns.
A small bridge crosses the creek, too. I told them a story about two young children and their mother, embarking on a new journey, together. In the story, the children each crossed a bridge on their own and while alone in their crossing, knew their mother was near and waiting for them. Before they crossed the bridge at the creek, I whispered to each of the girls a wish I have for them this upcoming year. Upon their return from the bridge, they chose a sunflower out of a vase I brought and we hugged.
It was a stunning day and truly, truly special. Afterward we played hide and seek and just ran around with bare feet. The scent of grass was strong and it stained our feet. It wasn’t that of my first grade stuffy classroom. The sun was warm and the sky right above us.