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A Letter to Sort Out the First Grade

A Letter to Sort Out the First Grade

Dear Son,

I don’t know what I’m doing. There, I’ve said it. Now I will write more words until I come to an end.

This fall you will begin your first grade year. That is to say that if you were in public school, you would be in first grade because that is the grade your age relates to.

To is a preposition and you’re not supposed to end sentences with it. (I should have said, “…because that is the grade to which your age relates.”) But people end sentences with prepositions all the time, and honestly proper grammar often just sounds snooty.

We should remain aware of our tone both when we write and when we speak, and the two applications of tone are not interchangeable. If I were writing an academic research paper, I should aim to use exactly the correct grammar. In this letter-blog, however, I wish to remain more informal than exact, proper grammar allows. If I were speaking, this entire paragraph would come out in bubbles because I can’t seem to think and speak at the same time. But also, you will often see that speech does not translate well to text. When we speak, we rely on the tone of our voice and often forget about how diction and syntax can change our stories. This is fine, and natural, but still something of which we should remain aware. (Look at that proper preposition placement! At least I think it is proper, but honestly prepositions confuse me. Is first grade the year when you study prepositions? I don’t think so, but it’s probably also not the time to practice division, and we have done that.)

Speaking of grammar and confusion, people also often start sentences with but (and I have done this several times already.) But is a contraction and meant to combine two related, but different, thoughts, into one sentence. Since but is meant to join two thoughts into one sentence, you can expect some controversy if you choose to begin your sentences with it.

You love the word but because it sounds like butt. You are six years old.

I giggle now because of a scene from a college class. The class was called Feature Writing. Features are a type of article that show up in newspapers, but they have a bit more flare than what you might find on the front page. Newspaper writing is all a bit funky because it uses its own kind of grammar, something called AP Style. One day my class landed on the subject of these particular grammar rules. I think we were talking about commas and whether or not you’re allowed to use them in newspapers (the answer: yes, but only if absolutely necessary. A comma often just takes up space and when you’re paying per page printed, you only want to print what is necessary.) One boy spoke up in the middle of our little grammar lesson. His hair was a fuzzy, dark, stark contrast to his smooth pale skin. His arms showed no muscle and the tone of his voice rang higher when compared with most males his age. He was intelligent, loved music and had tattoos. He interrupted the lesson with genuine interest.

Genuine means authentic. You know this well because children are always authentic. You know nothing else.

“What about buts?” he said, placing emphasis on the most hilarious word in the question. If I had had milk in my mouth, it would have come right up my nose. Still today I giggle as I write this story. “What about buts?” The placement was perfect, full of dramatic irony. He hadn’t thought his question funny at all, and he didn’t laugh but called me immature and waited for our professor to give an expert answer. Maybe I am immature. It was just so funny, so my reaction was to bust out laughing.

Now I begin first grade home school with you, my firstborn. This is a place where I must play the teacher. You have never been in school, but my experience with teachers is that the best ones practiced humor. What stands out is not the teaching itself but the laughter and personality. Bits of immaturity made them more relatable, so perhaps I should not fret at that at all.

We will figure this out together, or maybe we’ll just study grammar. If we know the literary, surely history and science will find us. I have no worries for mathematics because you love those so much.

Yet, yes I do worry. All parents do. I’ll set that aside for now and simply say that surely more will come of these first grade homeschooling thoughts, just as surely more will come of homeschool than I could ever predict or schedule in. (Yikes. In is a preposition too. I could remove it since I’m typing but I won’t for circularity’s sake.) Mistakes are the inevitable, editable beauty of life.

Stay tuned.

Love,

Mom/Sara/Haiku the Day Away