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First Day of School 2016


Our three kids in junior high.

Today is the first day of school for my traditionally educated children. Our family now has: two 8th graders, one 7th grader, two 5th graders and a 1st grader. Yesterday was a chaos filled day of rushing from one school to another. Whoever makes decisions about these things apparently thinks it’s a fabulous idea to have the junior high and elementary orientation/meet the teacher events overlap. This means everyone with both an elementary school kid and junior higher gets to rush from one school to the next, likely speeding down the highway to make both events. 



It has been a year and a half since I wrote My Farewell to Homeschooling. Some aspects of that have gotten easier. I know more of what is expected, I am more familiar with the schools, schedules and routines. My kids look forward to being back in school with their friends. But it is still hard. I am sad that I am not homeschooling my kids. It still feels like a failure on my part at times. 

At the junior high yesterday I was struck by the fact that everything, every routine, every external motivator make the life of my son with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) more difficult. 

The noise and chaos were overwhelming to me, how much more so for my child who gets overstimulated easily? Or a child who struggles to process language? To make friends?

First day of school 2016.

The school rotates through A Days, B Days, etc. Every day is different. Some days have periods 1 and 2 and then breakfast, others  start with second period and then move on to “base camp”. Yes, he figures it out, but it is one more layer of instructions to remember.

“Base Camp” is designed to help kids who are struggling or falling behind in class to get caught up. On one hand I love that the school has this built-in to their schedule…on the other hand, while two of my kids get free time during that period, for my son struggling with FASD, it’s one more class (no break for him).

In one class the teacher has a system set up where the kids can earn point for things like: turning in homework on time, when the entire class gets a C or higher on a test, class participation. All things that nearly impossible for my son. 

First day of school 2016.

Don’t get me  wrong, it’s not that I think this systems are bad or that the entire school should change for my son, it’s just one more reminder about how difficult his life is because of FASD.


These three are off to another year of elementary school. Avi and Tucker are in fifth grade and Apollo in first. The school did a great job of planning and Apollo’s teacher is the student teacher from his kindergarten class last year. She is very familiar with Apollo as a little boy and familiar with his medical issues. In addition, this has made the transition easier for Apollo. 

Tucker was thrilled by having a male teacher for the first time and Avi’s teacher was her summer school teacher this year. She and Avi know each other and are used to working together. Hopefully this smoothes the transition for both of them.

Here’s to another year of learning and growing!

How is your school year shaping up? Homeschooling or traditional school?


  1. corinne gonz

    Just curious if you feel that your kids in public school now will not have the same advantage of those who received their high school diploma and an 2 years of college. I think it’s awesome that my 17 they had so much and near as many public school kids do the same.

    • Renee

      Corinne, that’s a complicated a question. I definitely wonder how they will do in higher education compared to their homeschooled siblings. The current plan is to have the kids who are currently in school homeschool high school so they can begin community college at 16 as well.

  2. :)

    I have to comment on the difficulties school routine/expectations/etc. cause him. I went to high school way too many years ago when there were the same 7 classes every day for the whole year. I often–very often–forgot which class came next. I had to make an index card with my schedule and location of each class (and I went to a small high school). And I was ALWAYS forgetting my locker combination. Well, that I could NOT put on an index card because what if it fell into the wrong hands?!?! You are NEVER to share your locker combo. So I would have to go to the counselor’s office and have them look up my combo…again. Talk about stressful! And…I was valedictorian too. 🙂 Talk about embarrassing! If I had an excuse, it would probably be that I was SO overwhelmed just trying to survive high school and do well that little details like my class schedule and locker combo just would not stick in my brain! So I can imagine how difficult it is for our kids whose brains are totally not wired for all that.

    • Renee

      This is great! Thanks so much for sharing. I am 40, reasonability intelligent and get lost on a regular basis…even when driving somewhere I am totally familiar with. We all have our differences.

  3. Jo Maurits

    I am very happy to have discovered your blog by chance the other day. I admit I’ve been spending way too long reading past entries and getting to know something of you and your delightful family. I am the oldest of nine, the mother of three (happily married for 39 years tomorrow) and the Nana of five and a half beautiful grandchildren. I find your sharings and thoughts to be so wonderfully honest and free of judgement. We share many of the same philosophies about child rearing and life in general, although I admit that you are far wiser than I was as a young woman and mother (married at 19, first child at 22).My children did, and now my older grandchildren do attend public schools. I think what’s most important is that God and the family remain foremost. You accomplish that by doing just what you are doing …. The love and example fed through the relationship you and your husband have with your children will guide and influence them all their lives, whether home schooled or in public education.

    • Renee

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and let me get to know you a bit! Thank you for telling me about your kids success in school. We always planned to homeschool, so it has been a hard adjustment for me.

  4. Denise Fouts Key

    I’m parenting my five year old grandson, who has Asperger Syndrome and ADHD and school for him starts on Tuesday. His open house for pre-kindergarten was overwhelming and chaotic, but at least his new teacher got to see how he reacts to over-stimulation. Thankfully, his actual class only has 7 students, so he should be okay once he settles into his new routine. He lives entirely in the present-time, though, so I don’t think he really understood what was going on.

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