There’s project season. And unschool season.
I haven’t always homeschooled.
I haven’t always scheduled six months of formal studies.
I haven’t always radically unschooled.
I haven’t always voraciously read like Charlotte Mason.
Nor have I held continuously to Susan Wise Bauer’s “The Well-Trained Mind”.
I haven’t even always confessed that my children were schooled at all.
In my early homeschool days, I could comfortably answer the question “Is there a day off school?” with, “No, my kids don’t go to school.” And I left it at that. These onlooker’s imaginations were required: Did I really live on the side of the mountain, my children locked into a cave without books or people?
I have not ALWAYS done any of these things. But I have done ALL of them at different times.
No remarkably noticeable change shifts one grade to the next for each of my children. They are given additional responsibilities and challenges as they continue to inch towards their adult independence.
Our seasons of home education have changed with the seasons. Sometimes more frequently. Sometimes less often. But we seem to always be shifting.
Seasons of Homeschooling in this Home
After a couple years of traditional schooling, we entered the season of Deschooling.
Now that we weren’t doing what the system has organized for us to do, we decide that we are definitely not doing what everyone else is doing.
Get familiar with doing things that aren’t what everyone is doing. So, wear pjs all day, don’t wake the kids till after the bus drives past, plan extracurricular activities during weekdays, don’t plan a routine at all, don’t listen to what school kids are doing, follow our interests.
Read a book from John Taylor Gatto or John Holt, then enters the season of Radical Unschool.
I want to occupy my children’s time in meaningful ways, but I can see that traditional subject areas are infused in life and that unschooling deflates the culture’s overemphasis on performance and production.
I don’t have to set time aside to do science, social studies, math, language arts. Rather, we can go on a nature hunt, visit the local post office, weigh things in the grocer’s produce section, write a letter to grandma. We’ll learn languages as we travel and read them a bunch of books.
Read a book from Charlotte Mason and decide that since we’re doing all that reading anyway, begin reading Charlotte Mason-style: voraciously.
Read living books, no textbooks, only biographies, personal accounts. We read the Sonlight collection for American history and World history and Donna Ward’s selections for Canadian history. We read science books for science, find storybooks for geometry and novels to teach writing, and dissect children’s books for art.
I’m thinking part time work as book reviewer is valid as I read from eight books every day. We read in the morning and we definitely read before bed.
Tis the season of reading.
With all that reading and all this time to do whatever we please, maybe we could incorporate a little Latin, Logic and Languages.
There are some specific things I want my kids to know. Get out Susan Wise Bauer’s “Well Trained Mind” and extend our study activities from three to five hours.
Nothing says a solid education than learning a little Greek, Latin, a romantic language or two, art history and logic games. We might sit down and cover the basics of French phrases or practice declining Latin nouns, build licorice DNA strands and memorize the seven states of pre-Civil War deep south. Four kids, piano practice, choirs, tennis, soccer, dance, gymnastics, theatre and playdates can be fit in after the formal stuff.
Then right on cue, the season of BURNOUT.
This season might not need to be explained. But for those not familiar with the rigors of a Classically Trained Education, a solid season of this education is concluded with a call to the local educational system: “Don’t let another yellow bus pass by my house without a stop”.
Alas, the kids aren’t out of their final phase of REM at ten to 8 the next morning, so surely there is another way to tackle this season. This is the season where I let go so I can recapture myself. I’ve been lost in the busyness of routine, of children’s demands, of my own unrealistic expectations. I need to allow my burned out soul to regrow. I need to stop my own bus.
Schooled moms wonder what they’re gonna do with their brood for two full months of companionship. This homeschool mama decided that summer break is the season to sign up my kids to every camp available in a thirty mile radius. Mom will take her stack of summer reads and sit by the pool. The meditative mantra: ‘Summer Camp Summer Camp Summer Camp’ becomes her soothing reprieve….
The next September, when she implements a new schedule, a new plan and when asked how she’s approaching her next year, she carefully answers, “Eclectic“.
Eclectic, that catchall definition that means: whatever works for me this week, this year, this season of our homeschooled lives.
I’ll take a little of this and a little of that, watch how my kids interact with it, how I like it, or decide on the spur of the moment if we need to take a field trip day or don’t do anything at all.
So are the days of my lives…