I know for many families in the United States, school is already underway.
Which leads me to ask, "Seriously? School on August 9? Who does that?"
Here in Minnesota, school doesn’t start until the day after Labor Day. (It’s the law.) And while I don’t want to sound all high and mighty, I’m pretty sure that’s the day God intended kids to go back to school. Memorial Day is the beginning of summer. Labor Day is the end. Those holidays are divinely appointed bookends to keep summer from being spirited away by miserly gremlins who worry more about "testing" and "brain drain" than giving our children a chance to actually relax and sit in the grass and watch the clouds dance across the sky.
(Sorry about the slobber. I’ll get off my soapbox now.)
I guess I'm also personally thankful to have some extra time to prepare. This will only be the second year I've been the parent of a school-aged child, and the whole school experience is a minefield for newbies to navigate.
Case in point:
Last year, my oldest child, Natalie, started first grade. The second week of school, Natalie brought home a list of 10 words and announced there would be spelling tests each Friday.
“Fabulous!” I smiled to myself. “My little girl is really growing up. We’re on Learning Lane now.”
I was a little concerned about the difficulty of the words, considering she was still struggling to grasp basic phonics. But I figured the teachers must know what they are doing. After all, they are the experts.
Imagine my shock when she came home that first Friday, carrying a test with a big +3 on the top in red ink. She, being blissfully naïve, was thrilled. “I only got seven wrong, Mom! That’s three right!”
I, however, was horrified. How did my daughter end up with such a low score?
I inquired of her teacher. She gently pointed out that it might help if Natalie studied her spelling words at home during the week.
Apparently, it’s called homework (insert air quotes here), and I, being a Mom, am now responsible for such matters.
Humbling? Yes. But it was a good lesson. I'm a rookie in the Big Leagues now. I should keep my eyes open and my mouth shut.
Through trial and error, I learned that I'm responsible for spelling words and the "suggested" reading that is sent home each week.
But overall, I'm still really green.
I don't know if it's OK to request the second-grade teacher I'd like Natalie to have. (Is that obnoxious? Or normal?) I don't know if I should continue to walk her to her classroom each morning. (Overbearing? Or caring?) I don't know how much I should help her when she's doing her homework, or how often I should remind her to clean out her folder, or if I should make excuses for the days she'll miss school for family trips.
It's just a whole lot of new -- for both of us.
Any suggestions from veteran Moms? I have six days until Labor Day.
Unless I can find a state that believes school shouldn't start until Columbus Day. Sounds educational to me.
Kelly also blogs at Love Well, although she's currently taking a short hiatus to enjoy the last full week of summer. She'll return after Labor Day. Of course.