Summer is upon us. The weather is getting warmer - much too quickly, days are getting longer, and school is finally out!! Well, for most people, anyways.
Several people have asked me lately when we will finish up our school work for the year. When will we be "done"? I always love to see the different responses I get when I hit them with the hard fact - we don't quit. We do SUMMER SCHOOL! Let me explain.
I tried once, many years back, to follow along with what the public school system says about holidays and vacation times. We did our school work during the 9 regular school months, and we quit for the summer. That lasted all of about a week! My kids were so absolutely bored! It was too hot to send them outside (I live in the Deep South!), they were tired of watching TV, we had already cleaned the house from top to bottom, and they wouldn't quit fighting with each other. What to do? So I decided then and there that, if I was going to be finding something creative for them to do all day, we might as well use that time to learn something constructive! Why in the world would I want to spend the next 3 months listening to bored kids fight all day, when I could be teaching them something fun and educational that they needed to know anyway? That summer turned out to be one of the best ever!
And then fall came. The weather was beautiful, the kids were ready to go outside, and, most importantly, I wanted to be outside. So we closed up our school work, and we headed to the park for a picnic! Why in the world would I want to stay inside with antsy kids who would much rather be exploring and using their muscles and brains outdoors? That fall turned out to be one of the best ever!
And so our homeschool started to take shape. I decided that, instead of trying to do what everyone else says I should do, I was going to run my school, including the school calendar, according to what would work for OUR family. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.
It turns out that there are lots of educational things going on during the summer. We stay at the library when it's hot outside!! They have all kinds of programs for all different ages, and we love to incorporate our school time with the activities they already have planned. The library constantly has crafts, science experiments, story times, movies, lessons, and board game times. My kids LOVE to participate in all of the fun.
We spend a lot of time catching up on things that I have wanted to teach my kids, but just haven't made the time for it. Like, for example, the chemistry lesson we did last year. It was a hot, rainy day, so we pulled out the chemistry lab, and Britches spent all morning reading the directions, putting the different tools together, and doing some experiments.
And then, of course, there are always the never ending botany lessons in the garden. We have studied worms and their effects on soil, seeds from beginning to full grown plant, different types of insects and which ones are helpful and which are harmful to our garden - the list just never ends.
We catch up on a lot of math, because often, we get so involved in our other unit studies that we miss a lesson here and there. Also, we use that time to get ahead in math, so that we don't have to worry about it as much when we are working on history or geography or science or whatever.
For many years, as new homeschoolers, I struggled with one thing more than any other. I felt as though I always had to keep up with what everyone else was doing. That included what the public school did, as well as how others ran their homeschools. It was always a struggle and a point of great stress. I used to feel guilty when I would try to explain to someone why we did things the way we did. I felt like I was being scrutinized and that I was doing less than I should just because I didn't keep the same rigid schedule as everyone else. It took me YEARS to come to understand that I am not STUPID, I am working towards the best interest of my kids, and I don't have to be like everyone else - no matter what someone else may tell me! I do what works for MY homeschool. As should everyone! I like to tell people that we do "year 'round" school. We do our best work in the dead heat of the summer and the cold, wet winter. And during the beautiful months of spring and fall, we will be taking our break. We will spend days at the park or the zoo, and we will vacation when the weather is nice, the prices are lower, and the people are few.
And so, if you call my house this summer to ask if we can come and do something, don't be surprised if I tell you, with upmost pride and confidence, that we are doing school. But don't feel sorry for my kids! Because we will be off doing great, relaxing things this fall when other kids are back in school!