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Back to School Brings Challenges, Blessings and Gratitude!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Every mom has the picture of her baby's first day of school. Proud and nervous he stands in his shiny new clothes with his shiny new backpack. Some pictures tell a slightly different story. Here's MY picture of my daughters' first day of school ever!

No new clothes or backpacks, they wouldn't let me drive them to school but shrugged off my hugs and trudged up the country lane to their bus stop. My big girls!! 

Ok, they ARE in Junior High. But it was STILL their FIRST day of school - ever. We've always homeschooled - and liked the lifestyle and the flexibility it afforded us.  We homeschooled for many reasons, including the ability to tailor the educational experience to the child. Well, and the fact that I would have made a HORRIBLE public-school parent. 

Me: "Why are you teaching fractions to a child who can't yet add?"

      "Why did you give her an "A" on this paper? She's mixed up their/there and has no subject-verb agreement on that last sentence."

       "No, we're not going to cancel our plans this weekend so she can draw a picture of a turkey. That's not a good use of her time."

Trust me - the teachers would have put out a contract on me in no time. I would have seriously flunked out. 

So....why are 2/3 of my kids now attending school? They wanted to go. One was more interested than the other, but after a tour and some serious grilling of the assistant principal they both decided to try the school adventure. 

So far - they like it! I'm even enjoying it. When one of them was writing a composition and couldn't whine and complain to me to get out of it - I was downright giddy. (ok - she was happy about that, too. Apparently I'm WAY too critical of her writing. Whatever.)

I've learned a LOT about schools and teachers in the last 3 weeks. Things like 1) Why do I have so many forms to fill out? And why do I keep filling out the SAME form???  2)Kids can easily get up at 6am when they're motivated!  3)Teachers have e-mail addresses and I can bug them electronically! Woot!  4)The teachers and administrators ROCK! They've gone out of their way to help my kids adjust, to address my fears and to make school a positive experience. 

I've also been reminded something about my kids. They ROCK, too! I love how they've thrown themselves into this new experience - and are going all out to make the most of it.  

The drawbacks? We can't visit the Smithsonian or the zoo during the school week. And... I've learned schools now do drills in case a gunman invades the facility. My children have been instructed that, in that event, they are to pack up their locker contents and bid their friends farewell.

For the Great Public Education Experiment is then over. 

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