We’re lucky – or unlucky, depending on whom you ask – to have distinct seasons where we live. I never would have thought that it would make such a difference in our homeschooling life.
We homeschool year-round. We don’t do 3 weeks on, 1 week off or any kind of strict schedule, we just school when we feel like it. In reality that means we literally never stop learning. School on the weekends? Sure! Although the Engineer did ask if he could have a break from handwriting and math practice on the weekends. I said yes, of course. I don’t want him burning out and getting frustrated.
There for a while I worried that we weren’t schooling enough. So I started tracking what we worked on each day. After a few months I realized that I was stressing over nothing – because we were always doing school. Even on the days I “took a break” the Engineer did something that I considered school all on his own.
That said, the summer season is distinctly different than the official school year. We do more nature stuff, we spend more time outdoors, and we focus a lot more on field trips and visits to different educational places. Summer is relaxed and fun, with stealth learning.
Last summer we raised over 150 monarch caterpillars into butterflies and released them. We raised salamanders, ladybugs, and praying mantis. The kids helped me plant things. They spent time picking strawberries and apples, going to learning opportunities like colonial days, battleship tours, and visiting a carnivorous plant garden.
It’s all learning, and it’s all school. It’s just not book work. It’s child-led, hands-on, fun, experience-based learning. And it’s the kind of childhood I want my kids to have. They have time to play. They have time to indulge their curiosity. They can fill their sensory needs, social needs, and nature needs without feeling pressured.
Don’t force “educational”
I hate it when people are so serious about learning that every single thing is “educational.” It kills their love for learning. I find myself strangling the words before they pop out of my mouth so that the kids can have the fun of experimenting and discovering all on their own. I may subtly set them up or demonstrate it, but I try my best not to take over. That’s our instinct as parents and teachers – to take over and “do it right” so that the kids will learn.
Yes, every single thing (practically) is educational. So we don’t have to make it educational – we just need to release the kids to go discover it on their own. Even laser tag is educational, as I discovered last week. It teaches tactics and strategy, good sportsmanship, and math. Yes, math. You think I was harping about how to be more strategic or which number is bigger? Nope. I was running my butt around trying to shoot those dratted teenagers who ganged up on us. (On a side note, the Destroyer makes a great lure.)
In this overscheduled, super stressed world of ours, it’s time to take a step back. To give summer back to the kids. To celebrate the lazy days and enjoy the break in routine – even if you school year-round like us. Welcome to summer!