seasons of homeschooling

There’s project season. And there’s 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 used Charlotte Mason principles.

Nor have I held continuously to Susan Wise Bauer’s classical homeschool principles.

I have not ALWAYS done any of these things. But I have done ALL of them at different times.

There are no remarkable changes from one grade to the next for each of my children. They are given additional responsibilities and challenges as they continue to inch towards adult independence.

Our seasons of homeschooling has changed with the seasons, but it’s also changed more frequently, less often, and it seems to be always shifting.

Seasons of homeschooling in our home.

After a couple years traditionally homeschooling, we entered a season of deschooling.

We watched our kids learn and gradually shifted towards a more child-directed learning approach. We naturally gravitated to doing things our family’s way.

We could wear pjs all day, not wake the kids till after the bus drove past, plan extracurricular activities during weekdays, not plan a routine at all, not pay attention to what school kids were doing, follow our interests, and follow our kids’ natural learning opportunities.

I read books from John Taylor Gatto and John Holt then entered the season of Radical Unschooling.

I want to occupy my children’s time in meaningful ways, but I can see that traditional subject exploration has its place, but unschooling principles help me recognize culture’s overemphasis on performance and production.

I don’t have to set time aside to do science, social studies, math, language arts to learn many things from these subjects. Rather, we can go on a nature hunt, visit the local post office, weigh things in the grocer’s produce section, and write a letter to grandma. We’ll learn languages as we travel and read them a bunch of second-language books. There are so many ways to get learning opportunities.

I read a book from Charlotte Mason and decided that since we’re doing all that reading anyway, I would enter the season of Charlotte Mason schooling.

We would incorporate dictation and narration and a whole lot of nature study and drawing. We would read living books, not textbooks, and mostly biographies. 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, found storybooks for geometry and novels to teach writing, and read children’s books for art.

With all that reading and all this time to do whatever we pleased, we also incorporated a little Latin, Logic and Languages.

There are some specific things I want my kids to know.

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. Then there were extracurriculars: 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 can include a desperate cry for help: “Stop the yellow bus and let my kids on!”

Alas, my kids aren’t out of their final phase of REM at ten to 8 each 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, children’s demands, and my own unrealistic expectations.

I need to allow my burned out soul to regrow. I need to stop my own bus.

So enters…

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.

My meditative mantra: ‘Summer Camp Summer Camp Summer Camp’ becomes my soothing reprieve….

Until…

Next September, when I implement a new schedule, a new plan, and a new excitement about the upcoming year.

When asked how I’ll be approaching my next year, I’ll carefully and wisely answer: 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.

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Or to get you started, here are 19 Tips for new homeschooling families.

Teresa Wiedrick
Teresa Wiedrick

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