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Hi homeschoolers! I told you almost a year ago that I’d be back “tomorrow” to fill you in on the second half of (last year’s) first-day-of-school celebration.
So here I am. One year later. Funny how “tomorrow” is flexible like that. 😉
I actually DID start on this blog post last year, just so we can all feel better about me, but I never, somehow, got around to finishing it.
What I did finish, however, was the project that we started on our first day of school last year! It’s actually kind of nice to come to you, from the future, sort of, to tell you that this was a project that actually worked and served our family well. As a blogger and social media sharer, what can often happen is that you try a new schedule or launch a new idea or try a different organizational tool and you’re really excited about it and you do a write-up over how GREAT and FUN your new plan is and how your homeschool or your life or your homemaking has never run so smoothly…
and then, roughly ten minutes after you publish it and share it with your readership, you fall off the wagon and never follow that schedule again. Or you never cook again. Or all your “organized” stuff explodes all over the house again.
For two weeks, though, you were really killing it!
THIS little exercise, however, is something I can truly testify about. We did it!! For an entire year!!
So let’s jump back to last year’s first day of school: since our entire morning had been dedicated to passing out school supplies and going over our new schedules, we didn’t actually plunge in to our new school schedule until our SECOND day of school.
Instead, we spent the afternoon doing a laid-back study on “September”.
This was an extremely simple exercise, something that we could easily accomplish on the first day of every month. I am not a crafter and I’m not good at keeping up with a bunch of stuff, so the fact that all I needed to complete this tradition every month was some card stock paper and some markers was GOOD.
And since I love seasons, myself, my enthusiasm fueled this project, which I personally believe is the key to the staying power we all long for in our routines; spending this time with the kids made me feel all tingly inside, contemplating the joys of the month ahead, and it was actually something I looked forward to rather than dreaded.
I really want my children to be aware of God’s master plan for a full year, the changing seasons, and the order and traditions that make up a year of worship and life together. It’s important to me, and if you are like-minded in this regard, this might be a routine that works for you, as well!
So here’s what we did, not just on the first day of last year’s schoolyear, but every month since then.
First, we (and by “we” I mean an 8-year old, a 6-year old and a 4-year old. Baby brother was napping!) gathered up all of our months-of-the-year books, we clustered around the table, and we read excerpts from each one about the month of September. Here are the books we use, every month, in this order, reading ONLY that month’s section…
I ADORE this Berenstain Bears’ “Big Book of Science and Nature”. It is hilarious, and a pure delight from cover to cover. The seasons and months…along with many, many other things…are covered in fun detail in this book, and my kids love it as much as I do.
“The Year at Maple Hill Farm” is quirky and fun, and full of education about life on a farm, month by month. The illustrations in this book are awesome, and the kids just stare at the page until their imaginations are full up.
And don’t even get me STARTED on Tasha Tudor.
This book, “A Time to Keep” makes my heart ache. I love it, love it, love it. As soon as I finish this post, I’m going to call my mom and ask her if we can do a “Doll Fair” like Tasha Tudor describes in her September remembrances. In fact, someday I’d like to copy all the traditions from this book, for a whole year! Maybe I’ll even blog about them. Let’s plan on doing that “tomorrow” why don’t we? 😉
This is also a good time to pull out any seasonal or holiday books that you have in your collection and, even if you don’t have time to read them in this moment, you can show the kids what they are and where they will be for later reading pleasure.
Next, after reading all about September, I stood up at the chalkboard and wrote “SEPTEMBER” across the top. We spent the next twenty minutes or so writing out all the things we would be doing in September, we listed all the important birthdays, and then we started listing all the things we’d like to do. This was good as it helped give me an idea of what traditions were personally important to each of my kids. In October, for instance, it came out during this time that Betsie “hadn’t ever got to bob for anything“, and I made a mental note to bob for apples before the month was up. Which we did and which Betsie SO dearly loved.
Finally, after talking about our personal traditions and birthdays, we made September art.
This was so simple it might make your head spin.
I pulled out a piece of white card stock for each kid. I set a bucket of crayons and a bucket of markers in front of them. I then instructed each child to write the name of the month at the top of their page, followed by a picture that would make them think of that month, whether it was something from the books we just read, or something they really LOVE about the month.
When the children were finished, their pictures were clothespin’d onto the string we have hanging across our schoolroom window, serving as seasonal artwork that we got to enjoy for the entire month!
When the next month’s page was completed, the previous page was taken down from the window and put into a folder on our shelf.
We have one month to go and then I’ll fetch all of our creations from the folder and make a little book for each kid of their entire year of months! Easy peasy, yes? I’m not going to lie: aside from afternoon freestyle watercoloring, this is about the full extent of the craft-time in our home. And it’s enough!
Also of note: I would have no problem doing this routine year after year. It is something you can only build upon as your children grow and develop their art skills and their ear for listening to poetry or excerpts from literature. Someday, this might even be the day that I pull out our seasonal decorations and we’ll all ‘deck the halls” together!
You get the idea, though: set aside the first schoolday of each month to read about, talk about, learn about and dream about the month to come.
Have any other months-of-the-year books to add to the line-up? Or any ideas for first-day-of-the-month activities? Shout them out in the comments section! For more on the Gore family and our school at home, find us on Facebook or on our main blog, Mrs. Gore’s Diary.