Behind Every School Kid

by Stefani on 25-August-2008

I'm still on my quest to wake up earlier than my kiddos. 

That's the only reason I know, first hand, that there were more lights on, up and down the street, than usual – even as something like darkness lingered on our lawns. 

Today is the first day of school in our neck of the woods. 

I imagine last night a lot of little kiddos when to bed a little earlier than they've grown accustomed to over the summer. They probably had their "first day outfits" laid out, their supplies packed up in shining new backpacks, a few butterflies in their tummies, and lots of grand ideas about what the new year would bring too. They probably dreamt of new friends and polished halls.

I imagine this morning that  lots of mamas and papas woke up a little earlier than THEY have been accustomed to over the summer. They packed lunches and rechecked lists, smoothed cowlicks and nervous brows. They tied shoes that still have that new smell and gave pep talks that including time trusted phrases like, "do your best" and "be yourself."

I think it would be so hard to send them off and hope that the world is kind, that the teacher loves them and nurtures them, and sparks the fire of their imaginations, encourages their thirst for knowledge. 

I think it would be exciting too, to have, stretched out before you, a new year, new possibilities, the stiff pages of new books full of things that you will come to know. 

In our house, it's more difficult to see the line between one "school year" and the next, but there a few indicators. My boys have new pencils, sharpened and ready to pour out their stories. We have new paints, and we've replenished the supply of glue sticks. We've made lists of things that we'd like to know more about. We've subscribed to a few new magazines. We've come to some agreements about our schedule… starting a little earlier, a few things we'd like to accomplish each day, reserving Friday's for field trips and library visits, things like that. 

And I have a few butterflies too. I think whether you are waving goodbye to your little ones as they board the big yellow bus, or you're stirring Irish porridge as your homeschooler comes sleepy-eyed into the kitchen, fully expecting you to walk with him down this day's learning path, a little worry comes with the territory. 

Will he have what he needs?
Will the world be kind to him? 
Will he grow to love learning? 
Will he be a good friend? 
Will he handle adversity well? 
Will he remember who he is? 
Will he learn and laugh and carry my love with him? 

So, whether you navigated the carpool line this morning, or whether you're a new homeschool mama, with her lists and painstakingly researched curriculum, or whether you're an unschooler waiting for your kids to wake up with the flood of questions that will inspire lots of new learning adventures, or even if your "schooling" is some combination of all of the above, bless you. 

Bless you for the heart and soul, love and concern, time and energy that you are investing in the young minds that are next in line for great things. 

Bless you, and bless the little ones (and not so little ones) in your care. May they inherit all the magic and wonder of the world. 


elissa August 25, 2008 at 5:59 am

cal is taking that first bus ride next week. GULP. we are actually both excited, but i am DREADING the schedule…. on the bus at 8:12!!! well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? (please, say right.) i give you so much credit though, disciplining yourself to be their teacher. i suppose we all do it a little here and there, but i supremely respect home schoolers that take their jobs seriously and put that time and effort into their own kids education. frankly, you amaze me! many blessings to you all as you continue on the journey!

Sarah Jackson August 25, 2008 at 6:15 am

You gave me tears this morning, my dear. The world hasn’t been all that kind to my girls in the last week and it hurts us all. I’m keeping Annika home today (school started 2 weeks ago) for a decompression day and saying my prayers for the big girl since all I can do for her anymore is listen.

I’ll be thinking of you on my “unschooling” day today and borrowing some of your grace and wisdom. Hope you don’t mind.

Wendy August 25, 2008 at 6:19 am

Loved this post!
We’re starting school next Tuesday. Seems like the summer went so fast.

Jade August 25, 2008 at 6:22 am

I’m all choked up over here as well. Tomorrow starts Makena’s first day of preschool and I’m a bundle of nerves. She is looking forward to it so much and you stated all of my fears and anticipation.

Hannah August 25, 2008 at 6:28 am

So lovely. I’ve had some of the same thoughts this morning … and congrats on making it up early!

(BTW, are you going to the Not Back to School Party today? We’ll be there, although we may be hard to pick out of the crowd …)

Tammy August 25, 2008 at 6:50 am

Thanks for the post. It was just what I needed today.

Aileen August 25, 2008 at 7:25 am

And Bless You too Stephani. Great post.

molly August 25, 2008 at 7:48 am

i’ve willed myself to rise at 5:45 every day, just to have time to make the coffee, slice the bread, and listen to the neighbor’s alarm clocks buzzing through open windows before making my way down the hall to wake my not so little ones. having done all three – organized homeschooling, unschooling, and big yellow bussing, i share your hopes and worries. my one wish is that all children are happy, because when you’re happy everything seems to fall into place.

melissa s. August 25, 2008 at 7:48 am

very sweet, thank you

Crystal August 25, 2008 at 7:51 am

Oh Lord. I am boo hooing over here.
Great post today because it’s all so true.

Jonah Lisa August 25, 2008 at 7:51 am

Thanks Steph,

My little guy is not quite 3 and I’m starting down the homeschooling path–mainly lots of research and questioning right now. Playing to do preschool and see how it goes–one step at a time.

Great post.

Baba August 25, 2008 at 8:14 am

Brought back memories. Thanks.

Cassandra August 25, 2008 at 8:22 am


Debbie Rosenkranz August 25, 2008 at 8:40 am

Thank you for the journey. I am a mother to a almost three year old little boy who is about to enter a mother’s day out program 2 half days aweek. I am scared to death. The real reason I have decided to do this is to let him spend time with other children. I am just not sure about it.
I have been considering home or unschooling since before he was born, but I just don’t know if I have what it takes.
How do you know?
Just curious!
Thanks for the inspiration.

amanda @ August 25, 2008 at 9:17 am

Our school started last week and it’s been just this emotional. I’d love to homeschool, but with two tiny ones plus my kindergartener I just don’t think we’re there yet…maybe in a few years!
I can’t wait to hear about what your year brings 🙂

Pollyanna August 25, 2008 at 9:32 am

I think I’ve just lurked before. I love the way you think and write and the things you do with your kids. Today this is just lovely. My son goes to public school, and we have the same kinds of thoughts…will the world be kind to him etc? You warmed my heart today.

Just thought I’d say Hi and thanks!

Teresa August 25, 2008 at 9:50 am

I don’t know how you do it, but by then end of all of your posts, I have goosebumps running down my arms!

This is our first year to try homeschooling, and I have been a little nervous! We are excited, though, to start our little adventure at home! And I have loved having my kiddos at home with me!

emily August 25, 2008 at 11:28 am

well you said exactly what i wish – that my children inherit all the magic and wonder of the world. thank you for those words, friend.

Gonzomama August 25, 2008 at 11:47 am

We haven’t ‘officially’ started homeschooling here (the boy just turned), but already I have all those worries. I have them for my niece too, who just started kindergarten and seems too little to me to ride that big yellow bus. Beautiful post.

Marina (from Denmark) August 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm

My dear. To be a homeschooling kid in your house must be the best. All the love that shine through your words and all the clever and interesting things you experience together. The best of luck for the new school year and tons of thanks for your wonderful blog.

Christie August 25, 2008 at 1:39 pm

This was a nice salve for my homeschooling anxieties this week. My husband (a high school teacher) went back to work today and my daughter isn’t taking it well. I am toying with unschooling, but I don’t have the temperament for it and my daughter doesn’t seem to have the temperament for anything more formal, so I am frequently anxious about this whole thing. Your words are calming.

emily ruth August 25, 2008 at 2:07 pm

i love how you write just exactly the way it feels…

brown robin August 25, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Thank you for your blessings, Stefani! I appreciate that you included everyone, no matter how they decide to educate their children. There are certainly many ugly aspects to our country, but one of the incredible beauties is diverstiy. It gives me hope when I remind myself that there are so many amazing parents in this world whom love and nurture and educate their children every day. Just gives me the shivers and a big grin!

Ansley August 25, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Ah, that was such a fresh breath of air for me to read!
Thank you!

Katie August 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

It’s so strange to me, to consider a new school year starting in August. I just don’t get it. I guess it’s just one of those differences between Australia and America.

I don’t have kiddies, but your post was really touching. Your kids are really blessed with a caring mother.

Relyn August 25, 2008 at 6:54 pm

This post has me tearing up over here. It strikes me that if every teacher, whether parent, concerned citizen, or paid educator, were to spend their life loving the children in their lives, nurturing their individuality, igniting imaginations, and teaching them to be kind – Oh what a world we would live in. I try. Every day. As a mother. As an educator. As a citizen. It is my goal, my calling, my highest aim.

Nancy August 25, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Just lovely.

Corynne Escalante August 25, 2008 at 7:13 pm

thank you. and good luck to you this year.

Shawn August 25, 2008 at 8:20 pm


Mary Smith August 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm

I have been feeling excited and emotional this last week thinking about beginning teaching again (1-2 days per week), Miranda starting gr1(whole day) next week, preschool for Megan and Myles at home. I was just telling my teaching partner today about hoping that Miranda will have pos. experiences on the playground. I, too wish a blessing to all parents as a new school year begins!

Anne August 25, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Bless you and your family as well…I can’t wait to see what new things you learn this year!

katiemae August 25, 2008 at 9:17 pm

More and more I think about alternatives to traditional school. For now, our girl begins Kindergarten in a couple of weeks. Feels exciting and and a little scary, just big really in many ways and I so appreciate your beautiful post.

erin August 26, 2008 at 4:03 am

i admit – i was just as nervous last week on the first day of school as my girls were. some things just never change!

kristen August 26, 2008 at 4:25 am

So glad we don’t need to rush around to everyone else’s clock. My daughter commented on our first day bck to homeschool-“I think the first day of school went pretty well.” She read books did one math page and painted!!!

wesleyjeanne August 26, 2008 at 10:08 am

What a wonderful post. I appreciate your being unifying and not divisive, your language which encourages and celebrates all of the different kinds of schools and learning and the hopes all parents have for our children’s education, whatever form that takes.
Thank you for your beautiful words and blessing.

Christine August 26, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I felt like I was reading my own thoughts when I read this post. I’ve never been able to put into words how I feel about the choices every parent makes about schooling, whether homeschooled or not. Each one needs blessed. Each one needs encouragement. Thank you for sharing.
I’ve linked this post to my blog. I hope you don’t mind.
Blessings to you and yours.

Stephani August 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Thank you so much. You have articulated perfectly a mother’s heart.

Sabrina August 26, 2008 at 8:45 pm

What an amazing post. My son is just three years old but we are deeply considering homeschooling. I come to you blog whenever I feel like I need a boost of confidence in my decision.

I have such anxiety about it but I feel strongly that it will be such a blessing for him and our family. I don’t even know where to start but I am hoping that I will find my way somehow. Thanks so much for your words.

claudia August 27, 2008 at 8:29 pm

What a wonderful post, so many of the feelings I’ve felt but can’t put into words as beautifully as you have here. Thank you for the inspiring homeschooling ideas you will no doubt continue to share throughout this school year!

Jane August 28, 2008 at 8:19 pm

You are so eloquent.
We are about to embark the first-of first days of school a week from Monday.

How blessed I am to have found a loving place I trust to help us in molding my son’s spirit and mind.

How blessed I feel to have found your blog for empathy and inspiration.
Thank you.

Grace August 29, 2008 at 7:21 am

yes. yes, stefani, yes. this is exactly it. beautifully written, as always. such a perfect expression of what all us mamas are thinking this time of year. love, grace

Chai on the Fly August 29, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Beautifully said. 🙂


Itto August 31, 2008 at 11:19 pm

such a nice post!
my kids are still little but I slowly begin to un-/homeschool them… people like you are my heroes in that way and I am larning so much from your experiences, thank you for sharing them.
greetings from Morocco.

Frogdancer September 1, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Maybe I have the best of both worlds…

3 of my 4 boys are at secondary school. The youngest one starts next year. It’s the same school that I teach at.

So we all go to school together, and even in a school of 1400 kids it’s amazing how often I bump into them or they seek me out (especially if they have good news about a test or something…)

Julie Alvarez September 2, 2008 at 7:52 am

We haven’t started school yet. Zoe is three and she will be going to kindergarten only next march. I don’t know how it will be, but I am sure that it will be both nervs and anxiety on one part, and also hope and caring for her by walking with her on the other part.
Thanks for sharing this.

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