I don’t know about you, but I’m working toward more balance, routine, and sensible rhythms in my own life, and I want that for my kids schooling experience, too. We’re taking a gentler, more seasonally inspired approach to life these days, and that includes our version of homeschool “back to school”.
Does anyone else find the idea of traditional “back to school” to be really jarring? Lazy days of summer fun, being haltingly truncated by hours in a classroom, daily homework, rules, regulations, and a whole lot of structure. Oi!
I know that it was very hard for me as a child, to just walk to school one day and suddenly have a big list of assignments, expectations, schedules and pressure to perform. I still get stress-nightmares about it, actually.
In someways, I was pretty happy to be going back to school, because I certainly did need some structure and summer felt like a free-for-all that got out of hand. But flip-flopping between these two extremes every year was emotionally exhausting, and fortunately for me, I don’t have to do it anymore. (Yay, homeschool!)
The first year of year-round homeschool…
As you may know, we did a year-round schooling this year, with a simple daily school routine, about one hour per day in the summer. It was lovely. Not difficult, but just a bit of progress and diligence each day. A routine to provide us with some structure, but plenty of free and open time as well. I loved it.
But it’s true that as Autumn is dawning, I feel the natural need to be in books more. As the homestead and the garden are winding down for the year, so the desire for study is rising.
Kicking it off with a break…
So, we’re beginning this season of learning with…a break. Yep, a week of total pause from all forms of schooling (although my children read lots on their own). We’re taking some time to clear out proverbial palates, perhaps have some fun field trips, and some time for me to plan out a bit more of an Autumn routine. And then, we’ll slip back into the cool weather groove.
The beauty of a loop routine…
We school on a loop routine; that is six weeks on, and one week off. This I highly recommend for all homeschool family who have this option. It’s not just for those who school year-round. Six week “quarters” are doable, attainable. The time of rest and refreshment is never to far away. We can always make it.
Rest is frightfully important and makes us better learners in the long run. Frequent rest is important too, because we don’t get totally burned out and need months to recover. A week will do.
We have our daily work of reading, writing, and math, and music practice. All other subjects are rotated, just one each day. These subjects are History, Science, Geography, and Handiwork.
No matter where we are on the rotation subjects, Fridays are dedicated to poetry. Reading it, writing it, reciting it, illustrating it. We enjoy Poetry Tea Time with fancy treats, and often English accents. Civilized applause after reading/recitations is encouraged.
Somethings I don’t include in our homeschool…
I don’t include “Bible” as a subject in school. I haven’t worked out all the reasons for this yet, but I do know that I had Bible as a school subject (in private Christian school) and I hated having it lumped in with all the other required assignments. I didn’t seem right to put the living Word of God right there in the ledger between Geometry and American History, as if they were all equally important/unimportant.
I do think that diligent study of God’s word can be a worthy pursuit and can be fruitful. But I also know for me personally, having Bible as a school subject squelched some of the mightiness and magnificence from it. I understand that that’s not the case for everyone, and I feel perfectly comfortable for other families to have Bible study as a school subject. Knowing God through His word, although intertwined with every part of our life, is not something I will assign to my children as schoolwork at this time.
I also don’t include daily chores as part of school. We each have a morning and evening chore, and frequently do a quick “tidy up” together. This is really important learning, but it’s not something I consider schoolwork. It’s just called “being responsible for life”, and everyone should be doing this, homeschool or not.
A little today and a little tomorrow…
And that’s it! That’s our gentle but steady Autumn groove. It’s not exactly rigorous, in the usual educational sense of the word. I require my children to do their best, and because I know just how clever they are, that is actually asking quite a lot. Shoddy, lazy work is not permitted here, but neither do I pressure them to push themselves to the utmost scholastic pinnacle.
A little today and a little tomorrow, that’s our motto. With courage, kindness, curiosity and a spirit of willingness. And a whole lot of playing outside. That’s probably the best thing I could do for them anyway.