Sharp new pencils, crisp clean notebooks, unsullied glue sticks, markers still inked up and ready to go. Fall has definitely descended upon Target.
This wonder is lost neither on me nor on my kids. When I see the preprinted lists of back to school supplies on the cardboard racks, I feel a slight twinge because I'm not required to follow a list to get what my kids need for school, and they miss out on the cultural rite of passage of selecting a new backpack and lunch box each year.
Still, there is something about joining these kids and parents digging through the bins of 25-cent crayons that brings us together, regardless of our schooling choice: We are thinking about and preparing for another season of educational intention with our kids.
Having a husband who is a schoolteacher is of great benefit to this homeschooling family. When he returned to the classroom two weeks ago (which seemed insanely early, but not unusual), it spurred a natural response in my own kids to resume their studies. When I announced to them that we would begin our own studies within four days, they were neither surprised nor disappointed; it was the natural course of things.
Similarly, I have become Facebook friends with a lot of people from my past who are now living out their lives in the field of public education. The homeschooling me of three years ago would have really been intimidated by this, but the homeschooling me of now knows that we're not enemies; we're both doing what we believe is the best thing for our kids. Their shared enthusiasm inspires me to be a better teacher in my own home, and I'd like to hope my zeal does the same for them in their classrooms.
When I see my friends with children in the local public school gather together weekly to pray for their children and their teachers, it strikes something very deep inside me. I'm proud of them for doing that; I need to do the same within my own school at home.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." In the sometimes-fierce educational philosophy debates, the tendency is to be sharpened so much that we have a dangerous edge. I think if we allow ourselves to drop our defenses, we would see we actually have much to learn from one another . . . and much to teach our children by doing so.