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Missing the bus

All around us kids are getting ready to start school. Sales on clothing and school necessities of which I have taken only very small advantage (glue and glue sticks to be exact), and a certain tension on the streets that says the kids know their days of freedom are coming to an end. In the homeschooling communities there is a certain push going on as well. Some have taken the summer off and will begin again with lessons in a week or two, while others of us are just taking stock of the situation, prompted by some innate sense that new beginnings belong to the fall. This is actually our first year of what I would call deliberate homeschooling. Which is to say that this is the first year that Calvin will not go to school, or this is the first year that he would go to school if we weren't homeschooling.

I remember after Calvin was born that the first night home with him was the scariest; they'd let us take this little thing home and we were now entirely responsible for his welfare—us, and only us, because, be it freedom or abandonment, nobody was checking in. Now, in a few weeks, when the school bus rolls through the neighborhood and Calvin fails to get on it, we will do it all over again. Michigan law allows parents to teach if they so choose and requires neither notification nor regular assessement, so nobody, neither teacher nor truancy officer, will be checking in. It's an awesome feeling. There will be no significant difference in our own home (aside from the change we're effecting in our ideology), but like the moms who will for the first time put their child on a bus, or drop him off at a school door, there is a certain poignancy for me in this particular fall; It's a finality that marks the passage of time, a rite of childhood, even without its physical manifestation.

We are doing some things differently this year. For one thing, we are trying to connect with one or more of the great homeschooling groups in the Ann Arbor area, something I'm hoping we can do in the next couple of weeks. We are also talking about how we can introduce some organization without curtailing creativity and we might start with daily suggestions of things to do, lists created by Calvin, of course. I do have in my hand the skills assessment sheets for both kindergarten and first grade and that may or may not make a difference in what guidance I give (or don't give) throughout the year. And in general we're just taking stock, both physically (like taking down, sorting, and re-shelving all of our books, sorting crayons, organizing craft products) and mentally (by reading books of encouragement and guidance).

So when the bus comes to our neighborhood in a few weeks, we'll be not get on it.

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