Since the day that our son was born, my husband and I have been thinking about what it would be like when his little self started school. Would we cry? Would we beam with pride? Would we know what to do with ourselves all of the hours our son would be away?

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We imagined a lot of things, but we never imagined things turning out like this.

A planner at heart, I started collecting school supplies here and there a few years ago when I could snag them on sale and I tucked them away in a storage bin. My husband and I picked out a puppy dog backpack and a PAW Patrol lunchbox to surprise our son on his first day of school. We took him to meet his kindergarten teacher and we toured his classroom. We thought we’d covered all the bases and planned everything out. And then, we were reminded that sometimes life is unpredictable and we have to adapt and roll with the punches.

And the punches came. In the form of the coronavirus pandemic which has changed life as we knew it.

My husband and I had to make some very serious decisions about schooling for our almost kindergartener. We sat in on virtual school board meetings, conversed through email with our school district superintendent, researched, sought out advice from family and fellow parents.

And, we prayed. A lot.

My mom has been homeschooling for the last 17 years and she has always been vocal about her belief that my husband and I should consider homeschooling as an option, but it wasn’t something we wanted to do and so we pushed her words to the side. Until we were forced to stop and listen because we found ourselves in a situation where in-school learning might not be the best option for our son.

Once we actually listened, we realized that we might be able to do this and might be good at it. 

After much back and forth, my husband and I made the decision that we just weren’t comfortable sending our son to school, to no fault of our educators. We love our school district, it's facility, and staff and we know that they’re doing all they can to make the safest, most informed decisions. State regulations about school change on a near-daily basis and there’s a concerning lack of consensus from government and health experts. If they can't all be on the same page, how can we be?

A huge red flag to us.

My husband and I decided that the best course of action for our family would be to jump both feet into homeschooling and the decision wasn’t a rushed one. We spent more time talking over the decision to homeschool than we’ve spent on any other discussion in our marriage. Our work schedules allow one of us to be with our son at all times and my mom has been homeschooling for 17 years, so the time to educate and the support system is there, but I never, ever imagined this is what we would be doing.

We are officially a homeschool family and if you could see me, you would see my smile because I believe in us. 

In an attempt to keep things happy and lighthearted for our son, who so deserves excitement as he begins school, we allowed him to pick out a name for our school. His choice? “Maple Preparatory School.” Seriously. A few days before, we’d read a book with the world “preparatory” in it and he asked what the word meant. Our little boy with the memory of an elephant remembered the word and decided to pair it with his favorite tree, flavor, and smell - maple.

Traci Taylor

Our school colors are red, navy, and white. I designed a logo, made shirts for us to proudly wear, and we bought a maple tree to plant where our boy will be able to see it from the window of his “classroom.” A huge fan of PAW Patrol, we bought a Marshall pinata for our son and filled it with erasers, glue sticks, and such. To get him excited for his big first day of kindergarten, before he goes to bed tonight, we’ll let our son crack the pinata open to reveal his school supplies.

I’ve packed my son's little puppy backpack with letter tracing sheets and pencils for him to carry from his bedroom to our basement classroom and lunch food has been bought to pack into his PAW Patrol lunchbox which will be sitting on our dining room table when it’s time for lunch.

And yet, I have to keep swallowing back my emotions.

I’m struggling today because it keeps hitting me that today will be my baby’s last day as a little boy who isn’t in school, at least for the next 13 years. No, I won’t watch him get on a school bus or give him a kiss goodbye at the door to his school. I won’t watch him skip off with new friends. I won’t get to hear stories of who he swapped food items with at lunch. Those things make me just as sad as knowing that my baby is becoming a big kid.

I just want to keep my son little a bit longer but I’m so excited to see the man he will become.