A Fresh Start

by Sarah Schofield

I love the beginning of the school year, don’t you? It feels like spring in the fall. It’s a time when things begin anew and I’m no longer playing catch up. It’s a brand new start. This encourages me more than you know. Usually by the end of the year, I feel as if I’ve run out of gas, the kids are antsy to get outdoors, and the whole family is all about summer vacation.As summer winds down, I’m sick and tired of the stinkin’ vacation thing. Some of you may disagree, but I have a feeling that most of you are totally on board with me here. I can only take so much of the play all day and the light routine that summer brings.

The days when the kids wake up, play, eat breakfast, play, have lunch, play . . . you get the idea. Sure, most of us spend a couple of weeks going on the obligatory summer trip, but the rest of those hot months are spent killing time.

My boys can only take so much of this lazy lifestyle before they’re bored and I’m going insane. I can now understand why our public school friends’ children spend their summers in day camp. It’s called “keeping them occupied.” Clever.

Thankfully, these days have come to an end, and nobody could be happier than I am. I’ve done my curriculum research (chatting with friends and perusing the Exhibit Hall at the CHEA Annual Convention), purchased said curriculum, and written lesson plans and courses of study.

Bring on the Routine

The new books are marked, stacked, and ready to go. Can you tell that I’m totally on fire for this new school year? Bring on the routine, bring on the quiet mornings of reading and lessons, bring on the satisfaction of a newly learned concept. Can a sister get an amen?

This year my excitement is mounting more than usual. The reason for this new-year craze is that our family recently relocated to a new home 400 miles from our old place. Needless to say, my mind was not on school that much during those last few weeks before the move. Nor was I thinking about it when we finally got to our new place. Not by a long shot. Deep cleaning and unpacking were the name of the game.

A Clean Slate

But now that things have settled, I get the chance to start the new school year with a clean slate. Make new friends at our local support group. Find the closest educational supply stores. Convince new neighbors that we aren’t crazy. All of those great “do-overs” give me a great feeling of satisfaction.

I think this feeling is important whether you’ve gone through a huge move or not. You don’t need to have a life-changing event to crave that new beginning. Maybe you’re feeling as if last year’s school was lacking, or you tried a curriculum that didn’t suit you. Never fear. It’s a new year. Can I get another amen?

This whole fresh start idea is not a new one. Check out what David had to say in Psalm 40:3: “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Jeremiah had his own take on fresh starts in Lamentations 3:22, 23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Let the Amens Flow

But my favorite of all comes from Isaiah 42:9: “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being, I announce them to you.” Wow. Even the Lord was all about fresh starts. Let the amens flow.

There is a catch, though. While I love getting a fresh start, and I’m so enthusiastic about beginning a brand new year, I know deep down that my pep and vigor will vanish as quickly as that gourmet coffee ice cream does, especially after I’ve sworn never to buy it again. The ugly truth is this—I love fresh starts, but they disappear, and disappear fast.

At some point, my second grader will give me attitude with his math lesson. My first grader will develop a sudden case of phonics amnesia, and my preschooler will cry because I won’t play army men with him. Oh yeah, and they will all insist on having lunch. What’s up with that? I will feel overwhelmed, burned out, and weary. I will wonder for the one millionth time why I am doing this, and I will once again crave that new beginning feeling—that need for a clean slate.
Thank heaven for David, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. Thank heaven for those godly men who also desired a fresh start, and whose stories are left behind for me to glean from. Thank heaven for a Father who cares about giving me do-overs.

So, enjoy your new school year. Take advantage of that fresh start, and run this home schooling marathon with all you’ve got. And if you feel sluggish, don’t be discouraged. Find a kick start in your support group, spouse, and most importantly, Jesus Christ. He knows just what you need right when you need it. And a little coffee ice cream wouldn’t hurt, either.

Sarah Schofield is a home schooling mother of three boys: a four-year-old, a six-year-old, and a seven-year-old. Sarah was homeschooled from fifth grade through high school, and all seven of her younger siblings were homeschooled from start to finish.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2010 issue of  The California Parent Educator members’ magazine published by Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) of  California, P.O. Box 2009, Norwalk, CA 90651-2009. www.cheaofca.org