Rituals are important. Not always religious in nature, rituals bring us together, marking the passing of time or specific events. We might refer to them as traditions, and we all have them them in some form or another.
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The beginning of the new school year is full of rituals. If you look on Pinterest for “back to school traditions” you’ll find so many ideas of things to do with your children each year to mark that moment in time. It might be the back-to-school photo we all remember from our own childhoods, or one of those chalkboards where you record their hopes for the year ahead. It might be a particular breakfast you eat together. These are all rituals.
But what if you’re not “back-to-school”?
Do Home Educators Need To Miss Out on Academic Rituals?
Last year was our first year of home education. That September passed us by largely unnoticed, except for a comment at breakfast that a certain day would have been our back to school day. We officially started our year of home education on 18th September and the only reason I know that is because we’d booked a trip to the Space Centre for their home education day. Really though, we’d been doing bits and pieces throughout the summer and it all kind of blurred together.
If your children have been to school and are now home educated it’s easy to feel as though you’re missing out on these academic rituals. You don’t have a back-to-school photo, you don’t have a Christmas play, or Sports Day, or assemblies to attend. I missed the new shininess of September for sure, but not really the rest of it.
As home educating families we have the absolute freedom to create whatever not-back-to-school rituals we want to though! Just as we have the freedom to create our children’s learning environment, curriculum and everything else.
This year would be different, I decided. This year we’d celebrate the beginning of another year. This year we’d start to create our own rituals that we’ll continue, adapt and add to as the years pass by. I’ve become increasingly interested in a Waldorf style of education, so this really appeals to me as I set up rhythms for other aspects of our family life.
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Our Family’s Not-Back-To-School Rituals
So how are we marking our return to home education with intention and purpose?
- Our year of learning is going to start on the first Monday of September. When I was teaching I never liked starting my week off on a Wednesday or Thursday, so Monday it is!
- We will mark the passing of time with a not-back-to-school photo. We all love looking back at old photos of the girls and seeing how much they’ve grown and changed. What’s even nicer about these photos is that their personalities shine through because they’re not in a uniform.
- We will start the day with a delicious breakfast! This year I cooked a vegan version of a full English breakfast and we had a lovely slow start to our day.
- The girls receive a gift to share. I bought them some wooden animals because not only do they love to play with them together, they’re also a really sweet addition to our nature table for autumn. The copies of Aquila magazine are back issues and tie in with the topics they’ve asked to learn about this term. Then I thought they’d love some vegan sweets too!
What does your family do to mark the start of a new academic year? I’d love for you to comment and let me know!