academics / home educating planning / homeschooling / what we do

seasons of homeschooling

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.

(except for the cave)

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

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

So enters…

6. Summer Break

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….

Until…

7. 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“. 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…

What season are you in? And what season can you add?

15 thoughts on “seasons of homeschooling

  1. could you school my kids! Lol it’s only Oct and I’m in burnout… I guess I could look at it as I am ahead of schedule as usually I don’t have burnout till Feb! Haha thank you

  2. Nice. It sounds like a logical progression bases on children’s ages growing into more rigorous and then of course like any circle in life circling back to the beginning. Makes sense to me. We take it just a day at a time for now and have no plans as to what’s to come next. The best part it sound like in your story is that you all passionately enjoyed the journey and did it TOGETHER!

  3. Wow! From radical unschooling to classical? That’s quite a stretch! We are relaxed classical here, so no burn out (YET!)

  4. Started 13 years ago with too much structure, eased up on that, then worked into convincing my three that learning was their responsibility – my eldest, a daughter was handling all her lessons and grading by 8th grade, the two boys took longer, pretty much by 10th, they could go it alone. The youngest graduated in May – officially retired from home education. Never regretted a moment, although it could be extremely challenging at times. Loved the flexibility.

    • Yes, my kiddos are pretty independent at gr. 7 & 9. My two younger less so. Super helpful my presence of mind…oh, and helping them learn how to learn. How many years have you been doing it?

      • Well, in a tiny nutshell, what started it was my daughter, who was in the 4th grade, asked if we could homeschool. A couple of her close friends did and she was tired of the social drama in the public school. I did not want to homeschool – didn’t know the first thing about it. But, I agreed to prayerfully consider it. Within a few months, all three had issues with faith and learning in the govt (public) school scene which set us on the path of exploration. My husband was against it, but once I’d decided it was right, unbeknowst to anyone, I began fasting. Within 2 weeks, he agreed to give it a go and asked what needed to be done. Of course, I already had the letter of withdrawal written up and ready to send! In Missouri, that is the only requirement. We are truly blessed to live in a state which honors the parent’s choice of education without onerous regulations. What kept us going? Simply that we liked the fact that we could structure our time, curriculum, and learning styles around our family’s interests. We were committed. It was not easy, we had shouting fests some days and I’m not happy with that – i could have done better and been more patient, but all three have excelled academically, spiritually, and morally. My husband and I are blessed far more than we deserve. Shalom!

      • Thank you for sharing! That is so encouraging. Early on I thought this lifestyle/educational approach would be perfect. Umm nope. Expectation dashed as our humanity entered in. Hard work I signed up for. And huge reward we reap! (And way many more unhelpful reactive moments in our house too–but more time to learn to work through them;) it means a lot to me that you would share that.

      • thank you, i hope to be an encouragement – having the children with me was the best. We’ve been able to travel, sometimes a month at a time, to far away places (my husband stays home; he does not like to travel) Upon our return, people ask ‘wow! how do you spend so much time together with your children and not go crazy?’ Then, they stop themselves and remember “oh, yeah, you spend everyday, all day with your children.” They shake their heads in amazement. But, i don’t really think it’s a bid deal. What better people to spend the majority of your time with? But, you are spot on – it’s far from perfect, but i suspect it’s about as close as you can get.

  5. I love, love, love this post. It shows one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling–changing the program whenever and however you want! I love that about homeschooling. You do not have to consult the teacher, the principal, the district, the school board, the senator, the house representative, the U.S. President, David Coleman or anyone else, to make a change. You just do it!

    I do not have a clue what season I am in. It really changes from day to day depending on my mood. Lol. Yesterday, the kids were just doing whatever they wanted most of the day, which included a multiplication computer game, a “Princess Bride” computer game, reading, trimming a bush (for fun), an “about me” poster for a church activity.

    The second half of the day, I realized my son needed to memorize the Articles of Faith and complete his Faith in God for Boys (LDS Church program) requirements, so for the second half of the day, the other kids continued to do what they wanted. I told my son about the requirements which he needed to complete and he grudgingly (but not forced) at first, then enthusiastically, began memorizing each article of Faith and doing each of the other (very simple) requirements.

    So that is one “day in the life,” but every day is different! I just go with the flow of my moods. The kids participate or don’t, when I plan things. They usually participate because they like the variety, which I am full of for sure.

    I think I have ADD but have never been diagnosed. I use it as part of homeschool and my kids love the unpredictable life. I have been told many times while in the homeschool journey that kids need predictability and a schedule. I can see now that such a belief is a myth that is spread all over our culture and is not true. My kids have an unpredictable mom and an unpredictable homeschool. They love it and roll with it and they are happy and healthy. They are as well-educated as they are happy and healthy.

    Crazy, eh?

    • Yes I am with you: total freedom to teach our children the way we choose. This assumes the parents are authorities in their homes, which they are and should be–not the government. It’s a great life to flow with the activities and interests that our children are curious about, and us too. How much I’ve learned over these past nine years. So thankful for the education I’ve had, and definitely the wonderful memories with my kiddos.

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