When I started to school, we youngest pupils carried our supplies to school in satchels. Our satchels were similar to briefcases. I doubt I had ever heard of a backpack. My satchel had a handle on the top. Below the handle were two buckles, which I used to open and close the satchel. I am not sure if my satchel is in my right hand in this picture or not, but it gives you an idea of how we little girls looked starting out for or coming home from school.
The only kindergarten in Ashland City was a private one taught in its teacher’s basement. We couldn’t afford that, so Mother taught me how to write my name and then sent me off to first grade when I was five. The only school supplies I remember specifically from first grade were a fat pencil and a pad of primary manuscript paper on which we learned to print.
Of course, our supplies became more elaborate as we grew up. The girls in our school went through a phase when it was very important to have a real ink pen. We didn’t dip them in bottles of ink, but rather placed a plastic cartridge inside.
I bought most of my school supplies at the dime store. I shopped there often and alone. In fact, Mother sent me there to buy sewing supplies for her seamstress business. We lived right in the middle of town. I could see my church, my school, my grandfather’s store where Daddy worked, and the dime store from our yard. Between our house and my grandfather’s grocery store was our backyard and his parking lot. To get to the dime store, I crossed a narrow alley and the dime store parking lot.
Another school supply that I remember using when I was older was a package of subject dividers, the kind you can still purchase. Ours were made of manila paper. The package came with a set of perforated and scored inserts. These you separated and folded in half before writing the same school subject on both sides. Then you slid the insert into a colored plastic tab. Click open your cloth-covered three-ring binder, insert your dividers and notebook paper, and you were ready for the beginning of school.
Sometimes I used subject dividers when I was a homeschooling mama. You may use them yourselves. They work well for organization. However, we need to make sure we don’t let the concept of school subjects be a burden.
I’m pretty sure that you are like me. My life is not completely scripted and compartmentalized. I throw laundry in the washer on the way to the shower. I talk on the phone to one of our children while taking a walk. We stop by the store on the way home from church.
I had some teachers who continue to inspire me today: Mrs. Landrum who taught me English, Mr. Rose who taught me American history, Mrs. Smith who let us put on a play in third grade, and Mr. Darrow who taught me government. However, I am also grateful for:
- The men and women who taught Sunday School classes and Vacation Bible School in the church basement.
- The preachers who taught me about Jesus every Sunday.
- The visits to elderly ladies when I accompanied Daddy when he delivered groceries.
- Mother teaching me to sew in 4th grade when I signed up for sewing in 4-H.
- Daddy and Mother taking us to historic sites and to the beautiful Tennessee state parks.
- Visiting the stores in Ashland City and getting to know the owners.
I could go on and on. As you know, teaching a child goes far beyond the papers that go between the dividers in a three-ring binder. However, I imagine that you have days when you worry more than you need to about those papers between the dividers. I encourage you to give yourself permission to live life with your children. Don’t let your homeschool worries keep you from being mama. Don’t let worry push you into making your children spend so much time between the dividers that they miss out on all those other ways of learning.
In Deuteronomy 11, God told the Israelites about blessings they would receive if they would:
“. . . listen obediently to my commandments
which I am commanding you today,
to love the Lord your God
and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul . . .”
After He told them His promises, He taught them how to teach their children:
“You shall therefore impress these words of mine
on your heart and on your soul;
and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand,
and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall teach them to your sons,
talking of them when you sit in your house
and when you walk along the road
and when you lie down
and when you rise up.
You shall write them
on the doorposts of your house and on your gates . . . “