August 1st was our first day of school, out of laziness. I wanted the official beginning of schooling on a nice easy day to remember, like the first—rather than the 8th, when all the public school children started. As it turns out, I suck at preserving memories. I was going to take the iconic back-to-school pictures with my son wearing an (empty) backpack next to the front door. I totally forgot. But I can still do it, and no one would know…
For the first day of official homeschooling, we did exactly the same thing we have done every weekday morning for the last six months. (Again, I’m not excellent at making memories.) I got to look at the squiggly lines of a five-year-old’s printed letters, listened to a cute voice carefully picking through the words of a story, and rolled chocolate chips across the table for every correct subtraction answer spouted out.
Other New Beginnings
The day got more eventful later on, when the boy got to attend his first karate class, which only by luck coincided with his “official” beginning of school. We’d tried martial arts in the past, and that is a separate story for a separate paragraph.
Six months ago we tried out a class. It was one of those places with the fake rubber bad guy staring out the window at you. The American flag was emblazoned all over, like a permanent Independence Day celebration. The man running it was one of those people that is supposedly very physically fit, but looks a bit soft around the middle. He had a robust personality. A big talker—that was clear immediately.
The boy sat in on a class. Twenty other kids were subdued into little lines on the mats, while twenty parents all lined up against the wall, watching. Quite an audience. The boy shut down; there was no chance he’d perform in front of that crowd. It was just as well, because I watched the big talker tell the kids all about the glory of his military experience, and then instruct the kids to bow to the flag, rather than the instructor.
Choosing Our Teachers Wisely
Picking our own wise ones to follow is tricky, and even more so trying to pick them for the next generation. Patriotism aside, bowing to the military isn’t something I’m that keen on instilling in my son. So, I kept looking. I was pretty sure I’d found the one I’d been looking for when I spoke to him on the phone. He had a subtle Hispanic accent—his words had a soft rhythm, spoken smoothly and calmly, those words entering my ears and circulating, relaxing all my muscles. I listened in silence. Yes, the details are all good. Oh, let’s take a nap.
Not surprisingly, the class went swimmingly. My son added some extra superhero flair to the kicks and punches he was instructed to do. There is nothing cuter than miniature superheroes learning to control their bodies, and learning to bow to someone hand-picked for his wisdom.
A Learning Milestone
When we got home, as though to bring a proper conclusion to our first official day, the boy picked up a chapter book and just started reading. Of his own accord. After he read one chapter I asked him what it was about, so he read the next two chapters aloud. It was a brilliant moment in teaching, and I am hooked on The Magic Treehouse series too, like a five-year-old.
Now to remember to get that dusty backpack out tomorrow and get those first-day-of-school pictures.