So today was the first day of public school in my area. My youngest has been looking forward to this for some time as his first day of kindergarten. He carefully planned his outfit the night before so he’d look like a kindergartner for the photo he’d take the next morning. He packed his backpack with assorted school supplies, including a new notebook that he carefully wrote his name on and then added the alphabet and a few assorted math problems to the cover. And this morning, he was up early and dressed himself and combed his hair at least twice. He was ready to go!
There was a moment of shock when he announced that he was glad he was going to kindergarten. “I’m tired of homeschooling. I’m glad I finally get to go to school!” My teens and I looked a bit stunned and stared at each other for a moment, before I gently said, “But, of course, you’re doing kindergarten at home. Just like your brother and sister did. You’ll get to go on more field trips and learn more and you’ll have a great time.” The moment may have surprised us as we thought he knew he was doing kindergarten at home, but it quickly passed. He wanted to feel he belonged and stories of kindergarten in books involve going to school. We found other ways to make him feel he fit in with what he has seen in books, from filling a backpack and getting new school supplies, to letting him call me “teacher” and ask questions about when his parents would come to pick him up.
When the teens sat at the table to begin review of precalculus topics, our kindergartner pulled out a tray table and set out his school supplies. He could already write his nickname but he usually writes it in all capital letters, so we began with showing him how to write his name the way proper kindergartners do. He loved practicing it to be like the big kids.
We took a trip to a friend’s neighborhood pool to meet homeschooled friends for a not-back-to-school pool party and then ran an errand before returning home. He happily did a couple of worksheets from shining new workbooks and listened to me read a history story while he drew a picture in his new notebook to go with the history story. He told me the picture showed some of his own history as it showed him in the hospital after an accident. I labelled the picture and then he copied my caption as best he could.
He decided that the pages of his new notebook should be numbered. So he spent some time carefully numbering them. He needed assistance as times, but ended with them numbered up to page 33. That was a math lesson of his own devising and he felt he’d accomplished something important and wasn’t seeming disappointed anymore at staying home for kindergarten.
It was a good first day. He ended the day happy and packed his school supplies away for tomorrow. (Though we need a new pencil sharpener already. How did he dismantle one so quickly?) We’ve talked of trips to the zoo and science museum and other educational places. We’re off to a good start.