Tradition: Noun- the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
In Sociology, a tradition is a belief or behavior that is passed down throughout society, or a group, with special meaning or significance. We see this most often around holiday periods. We have Easter Eggs and bunnies at Easter, Christmas trees and lights at Christmas, and candy corn at Halloween. Those are macro level traditions, and within each family there are micro level traditions. For our family, for example, we open up family gifts on Christmas Eve and “Santa gifts” on Christmas day. M and I will stay up late on Christmas Eve and open our own gifts to each other, with just the two of us. At Thanksgiving, my niece and I usually give a “Eulogy O’ Pig” over the ham, HAHA. Along the same thinking, we have back to school traditions. Growing up, I would always go school clothes shopping with my aunt. We would have one day set aside where we would spend the entire day at the mall. We would try on clothes, get frustrated and tired, and end the day with Taco Bell and Dairy Queen. I always got a new backpack, and in High School it was ALWAYS a Mickey Mouse backpack. And I would get a special notebook and special pencils to start the year. It was a time I looked forward to each year.
I wanted to make sure Mr. B didn’t miss out on the traditions of a regular school experience. To me, traditions are very important. Traditions represent my fondest memories. Traditions transcend time, linking the past with the present, and the present with the future. I wanted these links for my son. I wanted him to experience the back to school shopping rush, the special school supplies, the parties, etc. I was more concerned about him missing out on Valentines on Valentine’s Day than I was concerned about our ability to homeschool! I knew I had the ability to teach him, but how could I include all of these traditions that I brought to me such wonderful memories? I set out on a mission to do just that.
My first goal was to find an alternative to school parties. Mr. B had a sense of these already from his pre-k days, so it was a definite tradition I wanted to maintain. It thrilled me when I discovered the local homeschool community kept up with some of these traditions. Each year there is a Christmas party, and each year there is a Valentine’s Party. There are dances, gift exchanges, library days, etc. that recreate those school traditions that I was worried Mr. B would miss out on. Co-ops are a great way to keep up with these special parties, but we aren’t really co-op people. So we usually attend the broad spectrum homeschool community-organized events. There have been times I have scheduled these events myself since one wasn’t already in the making.
Once I had tackled the group traditions, our own personal and family traditions began to take shape. We usually take a few days over the summer to buy new clothes, just like I did growing up. We hit the mall, get our deals, and always end with lunch and Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream at the food court. I always get a chuckle when I hear people gush over the amount of money we must save on clothes being homeschoolers. Apparently, homeschooled kids stop growing and never need new clothes. My child must not have gotten that memo, because he still has the same growth spurts as his brick and mortar schooled peers. I’m all for a bargain, so I utilize the back-to-school sales on clothes to go ahead and get his clothing as well.
Over the years, we have added our own special tradition. I surprise Mr. B with a cinch sack full of school supplies. Notebooks, markers, crayons, rulers, pencils, etc. And we spend the public school’s first day back to school by sleeping in, having lunch out somewhere, and visiting a few places that are usually really crowded with families and kids during the summer when school is out. We have made it a mission to spend every “first day back” doing absolutely nothing at all, and we love it!
Missica blogs at Through the Open Window. This is her 6th year homeschooling her son, Mr. B. When she’s not blogging or teaching her son, you can usually find her curled up in her favorite chair with a book in her hand, hiking, or spending time with family.