In an hour or so I might tiptoe out into the darkness while my husband and babies sleep to watch the meteor shower. I remember so vividly watching the Perseid shower in August of 2007, my belly filled at seven months pregnant with my growing Katie, sprawled on the front lawn with Bill, and talking of all that we dreamed of for her. I felt more connected at that moment to the Universe and its life-giving forces than ever before.

Now my eldest will be five years old in October, and she is starting her Kindergarten year. Our curriculum arrived yesterday, and to open that box was beyond thrilling. We’ve already begun to read all the books for the term that came in our Five In a Row set (a handful of which we already own, and some of which have been on my list to collect even before now). Of the fifteen books that came, we’ve now read all but two (they are grade level picture books and several are Caldecott winners), and we’ve talked about behaviors of excellent students, i.e. reading (or even just previewing) as much of the material as you can before the term starts so that you begin class ready. The exciting part was that I did not have to initiate this with her: as soon as we opened the books, she was begging to read them all, as if we’d just returned from one of our normal library trips. Now that we have experience with these books, we’re much more prepared to revisit them during the term and study them in depth.

We’ve also continued with our Chronicles of Narnia: we’re reading our third, Prince Caspian. These books are so alive for Katie.

Also on Friday we went to purchase Katie’s “back-to-school” materials. We picked our a pencil box, all kinds of supplies to fill it, a big box of crayons, a binder, folders, and also (at Katie’s request) two composition books. After noticing that our Five In a Row books each take place in different geographic regions (China, Japan, Appalachia, Italy, Russia, New England, Canada, etc.), I think I will probably transform one of the composition books into a passport and, in addition to the activities in the teacher’s manual, I’ll probably overlay our own culture/geography study onto the whole set to give thematic coherence. I’ve been casting about for a Kindergarten theme, so perhaps I will just try to come up with something involving world travel. I have to work this out (I have a week!!!) though.

After picking out all of her supplies, Katie was terribly excited. She felt like such a big girl. That’s what I’d hoped. Even though we are schooling at home, my goal is to preserve the tradition and fanfare that comes with beginning a school year. Education is such a tremendous privilege to receive. We celebrate it, whether it happens in a traditional classroom setting or at home. We cannot wait to enjoy our extra classes on the River Springs campus, too. To emphasize the special-ness of the new school year, I surprised Katie with a trip to Rosa’s Cantina for lunch after we bought her supplies. Rosa’s Cantina is one of her favorite restaurants in town (her very, very favorite is Pamir, which serves Afghan cuisine). We rarely go out for big meals since I prefer to cook, so this really was a huge treat for her!

When we got home, we put Eric down for his nap and organized all of her supplies. Over the last twenty-four hours, she has reorganized her pencil box at least half a dozen times if not more. That pencil box is it right now. All of our curriculum is out on the dining room table as I am planning with it. Some books are on loan to us and some are consumables. We have something called the Draw Write Now series (looks FABULOUS), and two of the three books are textbooks/instructional, meant to be read and worked out on a separate sheet of paper. I explained this once (as well as briefly how to use it) and a little while later, I came into the kitchen nook to find this:

 

Katie had retrieved one of the books herself and was following all the directions on her own, working from the textbook on her own sheets of paper, her pencil box opened to the side of her.

I will work every day to make sure this passion for learning thrives. I will work every day to give her the tools to be a self-directed and lifelong learner. I will work every day to show her the power and majesty of her own mind, so that she may never lose her spark or her uniqueness.

This is my mantra as I enter this new year as her teacher.

 

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