I am sad as we are on our way back to school. I am one of those moms that is always sad to say good-bye to relaxing summers. Yes, I want my kids with me MORE, not less. My three daughters are absolute gems and I miss them every minute they are away from me.
Like any mom, I need a few hours to myself on occasion. But I never understand why moms are excited to send their kids back to school. I am not judging you, fellow moms. I just don’t get it, is all. Some of it is about me, too. This is my restful time and I resent the intrusion. Why is the rest of the world imposing back to school apples and pumpkins on my ‘school by the pool’ or science field trips to the beach?
Let me make it clear that we do school year round. But our extra curricular activities cease for the summer. Then we focus on what may have been neglected or a problem during the school year, plus whatever we can do to get ahead, as far as difficult reading for the fall. So we take a week off here and there for vacation or family visits, but never to have an unproductive period where we forget half of what we learned during the school year.
I make no commentary on whether year round school is good for traditional school students. There are lots of complicated issues involved in that: overcrowding, gaps for low income kids, schedules for working parents, vacation difficulties, etc. We do not have those complications in homeschooling.
What we do have is learning lapses! Two and a half month’s break requires a review at the beginning of every math book to compensate. It is difficult enough to get through all of the classic literature I want my children to have read with me, without having to repeat any material. So imagine an academic world where the beginning of the year, likely two months of it, is not review! No review, and accomplishing 2 summer months of progress – depending how hard you work, it can be four extra months of accomplishment!
We pare down to the basics in the summer – reading and math. Then we write up a schedule based on our goals. This year Vintage Doll took her first CLEP test during the summer. She worked double time for an on-line class, in hopes of lightening her load for the school year. Additionally, she scheduled work towards the Congressional Award she is aiming for. Finally, she got a head start on hefty reading she will do for ancient history: The Iliad and the book of Job.
Sunshine Doll and I spent a chunk of time each week reviewing Latin that she had fallen behind in. She read some fun ancient themed historical fiction novels. We continued spelling and grammar at a relaxed pace.
A routine is good for kids. A summer with no plans and no productivity benefits no one. Besides, recent studies have found that successful teenage girls have nagging mothers. That’s right. They do better when pushed. So praise the good stuff and push through the tough stuff. When my 13 year old whines about “summer school lite” that her friends do not have to endure, do I back down? Nope, a hug for her and a reminder that it is because I love her and can see what she is capable of that I push. And a reminder that as soon as the work is done we will bike to Starbucks.
All of this is woven through fun times – especially if they get their work done early. We love beach picnics for dinner, changing up the pace by doing our work at the library, shopping in the morning, and school in the cooler evenings.
Kids need to play outside. Outdoor fun usually means the pool in this south Florida heat. It means water table and splash pad time for toddlers. Sometimes I have to schedule it to make myself take a break, but I do it. We always pick a few interesting field trips, late night movies, game nights, and a family read aloud on two. Have some fun, too.
We will continue to take vacations and breaks whenever we want this year. I have heard of homeschool families that take a 6 weeks on, one week off schedule, mimicking the creation schedule that God Himself established. I would love to try it some year. But for now we will continue “school lite” during the summer, and make every moment we can as intentional as possible. Good bye, sweet summer time. See you next year!
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