Today’s guest post is from Cindy Dyer who offers ideas about how to homeschool your child and whether or not you should homeschool year round…. or enjoy your summers.
As a fairly new homeschooling mom (4th year), I keep finding myself taking back things I’ve said at some point or the other. I said I’d never, ever have a strict schedule. Oops. I’ve said I wanted to teach my children Latin. Eh. Maybe later. I’ve said co-ops were definitely happening for us this year, but it turns out we’re pretty happy at home right now. If I’ve learned anything about homeschooling in the last few years, it’s that nothing is written in stone, no matter how well it has worked for other people.
I’ve always said we were going to be year-round homeschoolers, mostly because the homeschool families I admire most seem to do that. That “lifestyle of learning” thing sounds great! But then life happens, and around here, it seems like life usually happens in the summer.
Yes, the kids are finding out any number of useful facts about crickets and fireflies, and we’re still reading (and learning) a lot, but the pace has slowed down, and academics are taking a back seat so we can focus on…well, nothing, really. We’ll focus later. Right now, we’re resting, and it is good!
When my kids ask me questions in summertime, I open my mouth to answer, but the sound that emits therefrom is very much like Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice.
Wah-wah-wah, meh, wha-wha, brmp!
They’re not really listening. I’m not even listening to myself! There’s a mother deer and her fawn just at the edge of the woods, peeking between the leaves to see if we’re friend or foe. The pages of the books we brought outside are blowing in the breeze.
The boys are playing with pill bugs under the front steps, and they don’t care one whit about making a notebook page for that. The park suddenly seems a lot more inviting than our yard now that there’s a fair chance of seeing other children there.
Who can concentrate with all that going on?
The summer sunshine has turned our brains to mush.
So I quit.
I didn’t make lesson plans for July, even though I halfway wanted to. Instead, after spending June adjusting to our new baby, we took a long break in July, and we’ll (hopefully) hit the ground running in August. In spite of my well-intentioned plans to keep at it all year long, I’m becoming a pretty big fan of the traditional school year. There’s a season for everything, and this is our season for slacking.
While our family does thrive on routine, sticking to the three r’s all year long can get pretty stale. Some families are completely free-spirited and never even need a school year, but just go wherever their moods take them. Others seem to be able to have a book-learning lifestyle all year long without ever getting restless.
We’re somewhere between the extremes. I like the wild abandon of a traditional summer, with more academic structure for the rest of the year. I know, the a-word—academics–is suddenly out of favor amongst some homeschoolers, but we like spellers and math workbooks around here.
In the past, I’ve been foolish enough to think I knew how things were always going to be. I’ve learned my lesson about that. This summer has been wonderful, and I imagine we’ll keep taking these months off every year. But, considering my track record with predictions, I’m not making any promises. We might very well end up becoming year-round homeschoolers eventually.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun.
This is our time to laugh and play, eat popsicles, dig in the dirt, and forget about spelling rules.
How about you, homeschoolers?
Do you take summers off, or do you spread your schoolin’ out more evenly over the year?
Cindy Dyer is a happy housewife and homeschooling mom to five children living in the mountains of North Carolina. You can find her at Get Along Home, blogging about life, children, faith, and sometimes even homeschooling. Or, if you prefer the short, chatty version, she is also on Twitter and Facebook.
We had big dreams of homeschooling year-round but, like you, somehow the summer just ambushed us and Mr. Routine flew out the window. Reading is the only thing we’ve really continued but the kids are learning, Mom’s recuperating, and August is nearly upon us. Besides, there’s always something so magical about “the first day of school.” Not sure how that works when you homeschool all year! (Glad to read this post, now I don’t feel like such a colossal failure! 😉
You’re such a hard-working mama, Mary Jo! No way could you be a failure. Not even a little one, let alone a colossal one!
That’s what we usually did – keep on reading through the summer and have FUN learning in real life! I also like the 1st day of school. If you have any fun ideas on celebrating the 1st day of school, I hope you’ll share them on my post next week.
Brilliant as always, Cindy!
This is one area I’m struggling with at the moment. Here in Phoenix, the nice get-outside-and-do-things kind of weather is smack in the middle of winter – so it really makes more sense to work through summer and take breaks in the winter. But at the same time, I can’t get over my childhood training – and when summer rolls around, I feel like calling it quits. Working on it – not sure which we’ll choose.
Isn’t it nice to be able to choose, though?
Summer is for reading junky fiction(for Mom); swimming in the pool outside; eating way too many potato chips and ice cream; bottles of sunblock in every room of the house; towels hanging over the porch rail 24/7; going to WalMart just ’cause we feel like it; slushes from Sonic; and forgetting about bedtime.
If there was no first day of school, where would the fun be when the box of schoolbooks gets delivered by the UPS man????!!!! Christmas in July, I tell ya!!!
I had fancy hopes about schooling in the summer. I’ve had those hopes for 16 summers now. And we haven’t spent a single one of those summers doing school. : )
Gosh, I’d better pick up some junky fiction! I’ve just been reading econ. books, and summer is half gone!
Please, oh please tell me that you have at LEAST eaten watermelon and boiled peanuts.
I’ve eaten watermelon, but not boiled peanuts. Is it a delicacy?
I’m struggling with schedules no matter the time of year. I like the idea of choosing. If I still lived in Arizona, we would probably try the “summer break” in the winter months so we could be outside playing. My sister-in-law works for Block doing taxes so their “summer break” is during tax season (mid-Jan through April 15th). They take a family vacation just after tax season starts and then school begins. It’s whatever works for each of us, right? (Smile)
Yup! Choice is good!
I’ve always thought you northern hemispher-ers are lucky because your summer break is completely uninterrupted – True ‘down-time’ (for me). Here in Australia we have Christmas right in the middle of it (which of course includes all the preparation and recovery), then New Years and by the time we get to actually go to the beach or whatever, we are all saying ‘Oh it’s only a week until school begins again!’ (Of course we generally have our own family start date which usually gets decided by me the day before school was supposed to resume.) So I have been reading these comments with interest to find some of you (Arizona & Phoenix) have weather issues that stop you doing some of the typical summer stuff in the summer break.
And as for the 1st day back (when we finally do it)…my husband takes us out for our evening meal so that on that day I do not have to worry about cooking. I love it!
We are still working on getting into the swing of things we have ended our first year of homeschooling in May. I want to work thru the summer but Dad says we wants the kids to have summer off, so we are at odds right now, but it has been good we have taken the summer off this year because I have been dealing with kidney stones since March and I have been admitted in the hospital twice in the last three months. I am awaiting surgery for Aug 15 to get rid of the kidney stones. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a struggle to get back into swing of things. We have been watching documentaries and when he shows interest in something we do as much research on it as my son will stay interested in. So thru the summer he has been learning without even knowing it.
“Learning without knowing it” is the BEST kind of learning. Will pray for your surgery.