Technically, summer is not over. And in all reality, summer never really ends completely in Florida. Right?! It seems like just yesterday we were closing our books for a few months to enjoy summer break. Yet, here we are starting a new school year. How does it always happen so fast? I savor and linger and the days still fly by with lightening speed. This year our children will be in 5th grade, 2nd grade, and pre-K. It is our fourth year homeschooling. I've learned so much from the past three years and made some changes for the year ahead. I feel like there is an ongoing learning process of trial and error as we teach our children.
One thing I seem to forget each year as I am planning our first day back to homeschooling, is that the kids aren't really thrilled to be back to the school routine. And honestly, I can't blame them. We've all had so much fun staying up late, sleeping in, swimming, playing, visiting, and doing fun non-routine activities. I think it is really hard for our children (and me) to say goodbye to the carefree days of summer break. After a few days back to homeschooling, we all realize that it is good for us to add some discipline back in our schedule; and there is still plenty of time for playing. This way of life allows much flexibility to our days (like starting at 9:00 or later) and there can be some positive aspects to routine.
Our morning started with a big breakfast, followed by devotional time, and cleaning up the kitchen. When finished, we headed into the school room. This year on our first day we started with a fun activity. Each child answered some questions about themselves and then they shared with each other. We have one child who wants to be a soccer player, another who dreams of map making, and a third who would love to be an animal doctor. They each shared one thing they were good at and one thing they needed to work on. I loved when our 4 year old said she was good at painting, but needed to work on "attitudes." I love her sweet spirit. Our school day ended with tie dye, which we have done annually since our first year homeschooling. The kids look forward to this every year. We finished just in time to head out the door to soccer practice. All three children are playing soccer this Fall, so we spend a lot of time at the fields.
To be completely real, our first day wasn't as smooth or joyful as I would have hoped. As I mentioned before, everyone wasn't excited to be saying goodbye to summer, and there was some complaining and irritability. There were times during the day that I felt a bit defeated. Before school that morning, I wrote let your light shine on our chalk board. These four words were ones that I wanted to define our new school year. As the day progressed, I didn't see the light; instead, I felt frustrated and impatient.
I have had time to reflect this week. I realized that every year, the first day "back to homeschooling" has been challenging. Day two is always much easier and we begin to have a much better rhythm and flow. Once again, I was reminded of my need for grace for myself and our children. I need to let go of expectations that I sometimes create for all of us. I need to remember that transition can be hard for adults and kids alike.
As I look back on the day through the images I captured, I see the day with fresh eyes. I see the relationships between our children, I can hear the conversations we shared during the day, and remember memories we made. I see the light. I see the light of Jesus throughout our home. Sometimes, His light is so subtle, yet it is so beautiful when we really take the time to see it. My prayer for our children is that they will not only let His light shine through them, but that they will take time to see His light every day.
A thousand times I've failed. Still your mercy remains. And should I stumble again. Still I'm caught in your grace Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades. Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame. -"Inside Out" Hillsong United