I cannot quite believe that today is the last day of January, and that the summer holidays are almost done. On Friday my middle girl, E, will start school and my eldest, A, will go into grade 2. Next week all the various other activities kick back in - playgroup, gymnastics, swimming and more. The rosters have just come out for my various volunteering obligations - playgroup, school breakfast club, community centre, and so forth - and there will be more to add on when I sign up to do school classroom reading one morning per fortnight for E's class.
I didn't quite meet my goal to post every day in January, dropping the ball last week pretty chronically. This was partly just running out of puff with it, but partly also that my husband had the week off work and we did lots of family stuff. Neither hubs nor I spent much time on the computer last week - it just didn't fit the vibe of the week. Instead, we went to the Zoo, we went to the movies, we went shopping, we went to the beach, we had a very productive gardening day, we cleaned out cupboards, and we had friends over for a BBQ on Saturday night. (Sunday, being our first real scorcher of the summer, we were outside until the sun drove us in at 11am then we lolled about inside watching Wiggles DVDs and the cricket).
I am looking forward to this year, although also a bit nervous, as this will be my first year without paid employment since ... well, ever, actually. I've never been completely unemployed since I was 18. Granted, I haven't worked fulltime since 2004 but I've worked various part-time fractions, ranging from 10 to 25 hours per week, across all of those years. I still feel a great certainty that leaving my job was the right thing to do, but I can't quite push aside my faint anxiety that we'll feel the pinch financially. Still, onwards and upwards - I'm just going to cross that bridge when (and if) we come to it. I think I'm still reasonably employable, so if worst comes to worst, I can look for another job. Even if I do need to, it wouldn't invalidate my many reasons for leaving my old job in December.
I'm a little sad to be farewelling these summer hols, actually. A few minor hissy-fits aside (from all of us, truth be told), they have really been an oasis of calm and togetherness for our family. We've done lots of fun stuff (Zoos, picnics, beach, circus, museums, movies) and had lots of time at home doing crafts, reading, playing, cooking, doing puzzles, and watching TV and cricket.
I have felt like I've really been on holiday too, not just because of the absence of the work hours (although that has helped, naturally!) but because of the flexibility and freedom to order our days around our natural rhythms that we can do in the holidays. And as well as having a lot of fun, I am sure that all my girls have learned as much, if not more, in this seven weeks than in any given term at school or kinder. They've both been into maths and are doing harder and harder problems that my husband is sourcing for them; they are both improving their IT skills by writing books (with photos) on my computer using Word, Photoshop, Google and PowerPoint; and E, my 5 year old, is reading fluently now thanks to a self-driven blitz of phonics work.
Every year at this time I feel the same half-spoken tug towards home education for my girls. I am certain they could learn as well and faster, and much more organically, at home, and the rhythm of our lives might be gentler too. Ultimately I come back (for now) to the fact that I do believe the school environment is a positive one for them, and that they get some things from school (peer relationships not mediated by a parent, opportunities to do specialties like art and sport, excursions, school 'spirit', for want of a better word) that I'd struggle to give them at home. Always I'm tempted, though, and suspect it will be ever thus.
So on we roll into 2011 proper (January never feels like part of the regular year to me). I'm hoping it's a good one for us all.
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