July 25, 2013

Fostering School Identity at Home : the School Crest and Mascot

I have written before about how my daughter was hesitant to homeschool after having gone to traditional preschool because she was sad that she wouldn't have a school shirt.  This year, the desire to up the school spirit has been reignited, so it seemed like the perfect time to share with you some of my little tricks for fostering a sense of school identity, even when you homeschool.  While it was sort of hilarious to think of a school shirt being the reason someone might not want to homeschool, what it said to me was that having a group or school identity is one of the things that felt good to her about going to school. Nothing wrong with that.  And that's an issue that is enough to address.

In that first year of homeschooling, we decided on a school name, mascot, and motto and I got right to work designing a school crest for our humble homeschool.  That year, I printed it on iron-on transfers and made sure that Hannah Jane had that school shirt that she so desired.  And it was that easy.  She was happy to homeschool so long as she had the shirt, and it didn't matter that at that point, she was the only one in her school.  The boys were both babes, still too young to do much of anything other than destroy her school projects.  But it didn't matter.  She had her group identity even though it was a group of exactly one.

Check out the tape lines!

Above is the original school crest from way back when.  We decided on Christison Home Academy of the arts and science.  Having a school name really helps when you order free stuff online that is offered to teachers, too.  Everyone wants to know what school you're from and now I had something to add to that blank.  And the fact that we're a homeschool is right there in the blank, so I feel less sneaky.  We also chose a laughing hyena for our mascot because it had to be an animal that truly represented us, and we are a slightly irreverent groups of giggle boxes that travel in a pack.  And our motto became, "Never alone...or bored."  Back then, I was even less tech savvy than I am now, so I printed various elements out on paper, cut around the edges, and taped them on top of one another before scanning in a complete school crest.  You can see faint scotch tape edges all across it, but no one cared.  It was a school crest and it was ours.

New and improved school crest!

This year, the desire for the school crest has been rekindled.  Being a little tech savvier than I once was, I  sat down and made a more streamlined crest, using paint.net to erase the background of white behind the  images that I lifted from google (I'm pretty sure this is fine, being that I'm not selling our school crest to anyone) and overlaying the different pieces digitally rather than with scotch tape.  I asked what on earth they wanted to put the crest on now, since we're doing the school uniform polo thing now (which I will discuss in a later post)  and iron-on transfers do NOT look good on polos -trust me on this one.  They said, "Tags for our school  bags!  Stationary!  What else could we do?"  When we first did the uniform thing, I bought them navy messenger bags from a discount retailer online and we used them for co-op and for field trips on which I wanted them to take notes or make sketches or bring sack lunches.  So now they just want a little school crest to clip on to their messenger bags, and I think this is down right darling.

So, school crests, mascots, and mottos are great ways to spark that important little feeling of having a group or school identity.  And that goes a long way towards happy, engaged kiddos who are proud of the the choice to homeschool.  Sure, it's a gimmick.  But sometimes gimmicks rock!  In the coming weeks, I'll tell you a little about school uniforms, and school songs and cheers.  Stay tuned!

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