Starting the School Year Strong

Today was our first day of school, and I was woefully unprepared.

I had big (BIG!) plans to get stuff done this summer and have my homeschool plan in place with all my Ts crossed and all my Is dotted and all my commas Oxford. And then life happened, as it does. A friend passed away, my children had summer activities, I started a three-year teacher training program, we decided it would be a really good idea to adopt a dog. Things got out of control — and fast.

I tried to do school planning, and I did, in bits and pieces. But that’s where things still are, in bits and pieces. And those bits and pieces have exploded and are jotted down hurriedly on Post-It notes stuck all over my house. I cannot tell you the value of those little, sticky, yellow pieces of paper. I think I’ll buy stock in 3M.

I wasn’t even home in the week and half leading up to the first day of school. I was on a ten-day trip, and returned at 5:45 in the morning yesterday, on my son’s 10th birthday. We started school this morning. This was clearly a solid, solid, well-thought out plan. And then my poor, sleep-deprived, jet-lagged self overslept this morning — by an hour.

A few friends have asked me why I didn’t just push off our school start date to the next week. I have a few answers. The first is just, “No.” The second is, “Well. I don’t want to.” The third is, “Because I know that what we’re doing is the right thing.”

We didn’t need a couple of more days of being in summer-into-school-year limbo. We needed to reconnect. We needed to start our routines, rhythms, and rituals. We needed to sit together and talk about everything. We’ve been doing such discrete activities all summer — my daughter’s been in ballet, I’ve been studying, and my son has been playing lots of Legos and Minecraft and teaching himself piano. We’ve barely seen each other. We needed our school year to start so we could finally be together.

We needed to get back into doing our math and seeing the beauty in the order of the created world. We needed to return to our Latin and see the beauty in language and how it orders our minds and our souls. We needed to be reading and talking about Great Books and literature and see the beauty in created things and our fellow man. And we needed to write about it all and see the beauty in communicating all of those Good, True, and Beautiful things we’ve been away from for far too long. We needed to pray our prayers, sing our songs, and bring our lives.

I may not have had a plan in place. My Evernote files may be a huge mess, but I wasn’t really all that worried (OK, I was. I’m Type A. I was totally stressed.). But the truth is, despite a few epic failures on all of our parts today, everything turned out all right in the end. Because I know what that end is in mind — to cultivate wisdom and virtue, and I don’t really need a lesson plan for that.