If I had designed the calendar I would have made August the last month of the year and September the first because to me September is the month which seems most like a beginning. It is the month in which I am personally most likely to initiate new projects and make "New Year's" resolutions (like starting and maintaining an exercise program . . . don't you dare laugh, honey!) I suppose that tendency comes in part from all my years in institutional schools: September historically signals not only a new school year but also new clothes, new books and school supplies, a new teacher, and a new daily schedule.
But I think there are other reasons why for me September suggests a beginning. I am a fair-skinned non-sun-worshipping type who does not tolerate heat well. So when fall comes I breathe a huge sigh of relief that I survived the summer, and I rejoice in the energizing effects of the cooler temperatures. September is the month in which my church also typically experiences a new beginning, as Sunday School classes resume (after an August break) and choirs return to their normal rehearsal schedules. It is also the month in which my piano students, many of whom have been on vacation at various times during the summer, return to their regular weekly lessons. So as all of these activities start in earnest I find myself reflecting upon my various responsibilities and thinking about how they are all going to fit into the big spreadsheet that is MY LIFE.
One of the most significant elements of that spreadsheet is the educating of my children. As a homeschooling family we don't experience a lot of the "back to school" trappings (we buy new clothes when we outgrow the old ones, new books when we finish the ones we have and new supplies when the previous ones run out; and sorry, kids, you're stuck with the same old sour-faced teacher this year as you had last year). Nevertheless, this time of year still seems to prod me to plan and to organize--to assess where we've been and to consider where we want to go. I am instilled with fresh hope that maybe this year, if I can get that aforementioned spreadsheet just right, things will run more smoothly than they ever have and I will manage to maintain some semblance of order and control.
But I've been at this homeschooling thing long enough to know that my micro-planning and managing are usually all for naught. So this year I'm going to try to think more about the big picture than the daily struggle. Where have we been in our homeschooling journey? And where do we want to go?
A few months ago, thanks to a link provided by Barbara Frank (a.k.a. The Imperfect Homeschooler), I discovered an excellent homeschooling blog entitled Principled Discovery. This week, Principled Discovery's author has linked to another homeschooling blogger who is writing a series of posts entitled Back to Homeschool Week and including her answers to such questions as why she and her husband decided to homeschool, how they go about doing so, how their family interacts with their community, what curriculum they use, and what they wish they had known. She has encouraged other homeschoolers to answer these questions as well and to link to her blog so that others may read the responses.
I am a little late jumping onto this train, so I'm not going to try to answer all of these questions in one week. I may not ever address them all. But over the next few weeks as I ponder the question "Where have we been?" I am going to try (note emphasis) to post on at least a few of them. If I get that far, then maybe I can give some thought to where we are going.