It was when I was a teacher in a public school that I realized just how arbitrary school schedules really are. I was a band teacher. We needed a band concert, so I picked a date, sent out flyers, and that was the date of the band concert.
Now I'm a homeschooling mom. While I love unschooling and the lack of any sort of rigid schedule to stick to, I've discovered a couple of things we're missing. One very important thing is a milestone. I've written about this here before.
I feel like the kids need to notice their own progress. Reading the blog of an adult unschooler made me aware of this need. I might be aware that over the past year my child has made great strides in reading, but she needs to be aware of it too.
Along those lines, the hardest thing for my little unschoolers to do is to answer the questions of the strangers on the street who, with idle curiosity, have no idea what unschooling is all about. "What grade are you in?" they ask, and my child, who is doing third grade phonics, second grade math and a preschool handwriting worksheet, not to mention LEGO building projects, days at the park, making her own movies, dressing up as a dragon, drawing mazes, and counting to 1,000... she has no clue how to answer.
I decided we'd call ourselves the grade that their chronological age dictated, in order to have an answer.
Then, I decided that we needed the ceremonial advancement that the schooled kids get to participate in. I remember my kindergarten graduation fondly; in particular I remember wearing a nifty light-blue cap and gown. I also remember being the tallest kid in the class, which didn't change until high school.
So, even though we won't stop learning for the summer, even though we're not at the end of any workbooks, nor will the school location or teacher change, I decided we'd celebrate our little kindergarten graduate anyway. This would give her a milestone to look back on and remember. It will allow her to tell people with assurance that she is now a first-grader. And it gives her a chance to wear a nifty cap and gown.
She picked out a red velvet cake, some red strawberries, a red cap and gown, red plates, cups and napkins, and red balloons. A perk, I guess, of being the only student in your class is that graduation is full of your very own favorite color.
Mama came bearing gifts. Little glow sticks were voted unanimously the favorite, and the kids circled the table with them, yelling their heads off.
We also had Curly showcase a few of her academic accomplishments, just like the kids would do at a "real" graduation. Part of this is for the grandparents; part of it is for her to look back on in years to come.
Thus is my little unschooler successfully transferred to first grade. In the grand scheme of things I don't think she particularly cares; she just likes the excuse for a party. :)