About this time of year, the question looms among homeschool moms (and even strangers who simply wonder) When do you plan to be done with schooling for the year? Depending on what you consider "homeschooling", ours has until the end of this month before summer break (we are counting down the weeks!).
Just what is homeschooling to us? Well, it doesn't look exactly like I dreamed it would in September. It has transformed to....
- up early (6:45a.m.) because I believe it is good for children to learn to discipline themselves in purposefully rising to meet the day. It will be required of them as adults (in one form or another) so it is a discipline best developed as kids.
- Chores because community and work are a part of life and everyone doing their part teaches order and the value of a job consistently and well done.
- Schooling Essentials, usually by 9a.m., where the basics are taken care of first. We school Eclectically so this may look different on different days but each day involves Writing, Math and Spelling in some form. Extra time is often spent reading or working on other projects.
- Lunch Break, typically eating lunch together then taking a small amount of time to rest their brain through other activities like playing outside, bike rides, or playing inside.
- Oral Reading begins after break. We read together (even in high school) because I want them to have confidence reading to others and I want us all to be exposed to various stories. They each read from a book of their choice and I read as well, typically a book related to subjects we may be studying in history or a missionary.
Our day ends by 2 or 3 in the afternoon then they are free to their own devices. Sometimes they choose a continuation of whatever we were studying in the afternoon (recently it was converting large boxes into gladiator armor and having gladiatory games!). Neighborhood kids will join in the fun and, before we know it, everyone is living history!
We do not watch t.v. or play video games during the week except for special situations or achievements such as reading a book which has been made into a movie. I like this schedule and, what's more, my children like it and miss it when our days end up upside-down.
So how is Summer different? no 'book work' (work books or writing assignments), more reading, only math-facts review (to keep them sharp) and adventure with some nature journaling. Screen time restrictions continue because I want them to use their imaginations to the fullest extent possible. I want them to keep thinking. Some families who UNschool would probably call our summer-time activity 'homeschool'. But, for us, it is a break from the hub-bub and it is what works for us.
Don't be fooled though... not every day is perfect. Some days we blow off our afternoon and take a bike ride or run behind in the morning and find ourselves content with just being able to complete one math assignment and peruse spelling words. But ALL days they are learning... whether it is book knowledge or life knowledge... they are learning and I feel blessed to be their teacher.
Each year teaching gets easier... though none are perfect (and some days can still be hard)... overall you find a groove and a flow, an undercurrent which can carry you through other changes like maturity level, grade expectations, and life situations. And when the water looks too rough, you design your anchor, weight it down with the Truth of the Lord, and you throw it out there and trust it will hold you tight... you won't drift away but you will flow and move and always come back to center: learning what matters most...
... they are always learning. And while we, the teachers, provide them with active stimulants to the learning process, they are learning even when a book doesn't sit open in front of them or a pen isn't in their hand. Once we let go of what other homeschools look like or what we think ours should look like and just hold onto what God has given us to work with... our homeschool starts to look quite grand and the learning, both in and out of the books, becomes evident everywhere we turn. Summer vacation (and regular school days that just don't go as planned) are a reminder of this.
Maybe you are planning to school through the summer. Maybe you are holding onto these last weeks like a fist full of sand, contemplating just being done early. Perhaps you are planning to just slowly flitter out for the year. Whatever your plans... be encouraged today to keep stepping forward. You can... you will make it! Even if this week's homeschool schedule looks nothing like the one you ambitiously wrote and planned out at the beginning of the year.
I pray your MAY-schooling feels as grand as your September-schooling did... even if it doesn't look like it!