Thursday, May 16, 2013

Simplified Summer

Some phases of life are really busy while others are much more laid back.  Usually my favorite season of the year is winter; not because I love snow so much, but because life slows down.  My kids only play soccer at this point, which is a spring/fall thing.  We end up staying home a lot more due to snowy roads.  There's just something about winter that is peaceful.

Unfortunately, this winter wasn't like that at all.  We were busy, busy.  Running all over the place.  Co-ops, outings, library runs, grocery shopping.  All I know is that I got to the end of winter and felt more tired than before.  Then I thought, Spring.  Maybe spring will be better.  So far, not so much.

We always seem to be going somewhere.  Some weeks it's hard to find the time to get to the kids' school work.  We always manage to get it done eventually, but lately the kids are working right up until when Hubby gets home from work where before we were almost always done with school by lunch time.

And so it is little wonder that I am feeling burned out and stressed out about school.  I've talked about schooling through the summer, but there's just no way.  My brain is toast.  I need a vacation.

But then there is the part of me that just can't let it go.  A whole summer with no school work at all?!  I can't even imagine.  Since David's very first year of school, back when he was in a Young 5s program, once summer hit, I had him (and eventually the girls) doing math and reading every day.  Some summers I did more than that, but always at least math and reading--one lesson of math and an hour of reading.

When I am torn about a decision, I turn to the Lord and ask Him for wisdom.  So I prayed about our summer and what I should do.  Of course there aren't any verses in the Bible that say, "Thou shalt make thy children do math and reading every day."  (Wouldn't that be nice if there was.)

On Mother's Day, my Grandma gave me an Amazon gift card.  I was looking for something else for my kids when a book popped up in my recommendations box.  It's a book I've read before and used years ago back during that first summer that I started summer schooling my kids.  It's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola.

I glanced at the book sitting there on the screen and thought about the time when I used it before.  Back in the day when we used to do more living education versus book education.  When we used to take nature walks armed with our field guides and magnifying glasses and nature journals.  When we went on walks with the sole purpose of listening to birds sing, collecting and identifying leaves, and classifying clouds.  You know, back when homeschooling was fun rather than a chore to trudge through.  Back when my kids liked to learn and begged to do school instead of whining and writing "I hate school!" on their math worksheets.  In the days when I let them use glue and glitter and make a messy project out of the "specimens" they collected on our nature walks without thinking about the cleanup.

Ding, ding, ding!!!

I bought that book and made the decision that this summer I am sticking with my no-school decision, except I am changing it to no-formal-school.  We're really going to toss the workbooks.  I'm really going to let my kids go an entire summer without doing math.  I'm not going to think about the summer slump, the regression, and the review work we're going to have to do come September.  I'm putting that out of my mind.

Instead, we're going to dust off our field guides, nature journals, walking shoes and glue sticks and we're going to spend our summer focusing on nature.  Lots of nature walks, nature studies, books about nature, drawing in nature journals, making messy projects utilizing the things the kids collect, sitting on blankets in the grass watching clouds go by as we listen for and identify the animals around us.

Our winter and spring may be/have been crazy, but I am putting my foot down on our summer.  When this summer is over, I want us to be relaxed and ready to start a new school year.  I am not going to worry about test scores, I am not going to worry about my kids learning enough, I am not going to think about curriculum and if there's something better out there that I've missed.  Nope, not going to do it.  In fact, I am going to go so far as to BOX UP my curriculum catalogs and hide them in the basement until fall.  I might even do the same with our school books.  Just so I won't be tempted.

So, if you are local and are up for a walk in the woods, shoot me an email or give me a call and we can set something up.  Because we are going to be taking a lot of walks in the woods this summer.  And a walk in the woods is always more fun with friends.

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