When you homeschool year-round, like we do, there is no ceremonial cleaning out of the desk and locker on the last day of school. There is no saying "goodbye" to a former teacher and eager anticipation of who will be your teacher during the next school year. There is no big revelation of which friends will be in your class, and there is no supply list telling you how many boxes of Kleenex and how many pencils you need to bring on the first day of school. There is no first day of school.
School just is.
It is a part of our day-to-day, breathe in, breathe out routine. Some days we breathe a little more or a little better than others. But it is there. Every day. Supply lists and school shopping are really just trips to the grocery, department, or craft stores.
Surprise! I'm your teacher...and yes, both of your brothers are still in class with you this year. So play nice.
I love this model of education. I love that we can take a day off whenever we need it, but we thrive on our daily routines.
As summer crept on, though, I realized that the boys were sliding into first grade without even knowing it. Without the big shift in teacher, classmates, classroom, and curriculum, without even a big summer break, there was no obvious transition from kindergarten to first grade. In a sense I like the seamlessness of this. I like that there is no artificial stoppage of learning and no major change to interrupt what progress is being made.
However, we live in a society that is full of boxes and labels, and the boys are having to field questions from grocery store clerks about their schooling (have I mentioned that people in Kansas are way too friendly? it gives a whole new meaning to #nofilter...but that's a post for another day). They were being asked what grade they are in, and they were still saying "kindergarten" because we haven't had any sort of last-day-of-school clean up (unless you count moving states).
So, what do you do when you are a homeschooler with no summer vacation and no major curriculum changes and you want to transition from one grade to the next?
We put a sign on the door.
We gave awards certificates.
We ate cupcakes.
And we launched them down a grassy hill without training wheels.
So now, when they are asked what grade they are in, they can say "FIRST!"
Shorty, who was born right around the cutoff date, could be in kindergarten or pre-k, depending on which state's rules we want to follow. He's sharp as a tack, but doesn't like to follow directions. So, he has chosen to call his grade "cuckoo-kindergarten." It works for me.
They still look puzzled when people ask them how they spent their summer break. Sigh. I need to teach them to answer "year-round schooling is the bomb-diggity."