I started out the summer wanting to be a fun mom, an educationally minded mom, and to make the absolute most of the break. We didn’t take any vacations, so I planned a mix of fun learning experiences, field trips, and a summer live list to occupy our time. Summer has come and gone and here are a few of thoughts on homeschooling from a non-homeschool mom.
I learned that I could totally homeschool if necessary. It was fun and if I planned a bit more structure then I think the boys and I would really enjoy it. (stay tuned for my next post about why we are NOT homeschooling) I was so surprised at how easy it was to get our work done for the day. Part of this might be because my boys love to learn and are the ages where their lessons are fairly simple. Some kids who are not as interested in academic work might not have been as eager. We would sit down in the morning (or afternoon- because homeschooling is FLEXIBLE!) and do our work for the day in 20-45 minutes and then we had the rest of the day free to do as we wished! I would usually read aloud to the boys or have them work on reading to me, but that is maybe two hours a day compared to six hours in the traditional classroom. The flexibility and freedom to play (which is the work of children, after all) was a big positive for our summer schedule.
It truly was such a joy to see my boys grow and learn. I was amazed at how quickly they learned and retained new information. BUT I also realized that I am not equipped to teach them everything. I struggled with adequately explaining subjects/nouns and actions/verbs to my rising first grader. For instance, take the sentence “John is jumping.” I could not explain to him why “is” is the verb in that sentence when he kept saying, “But ‘jumping’ is the action and that is what John is doing!” So I am very thankful that we have trained educators who can love on our boys and teach them in an easy to understand, age appropriate way.
We had staycations for both spring break and summer break. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on activities, so I tried to chose a few fun educational things we could do for minimal cost or free. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Shark Tooth Dig Kit/ Space Rocks Kit
2. Nature Walk
3. Local Farm with Homemade Ice Cream
4. I Spy/ Where’s Waldo books
5. Scholastic Books and Writing ABC verses
6. Aquarium and Zoo
Researching and planning these activities was fun and helped to break up the monotony of doing “schoolwork” at home. I could plan our worksheets for the week around that activity and read books on those subjects to build up to the event. Fun memories and play are much stronger teachers than mere rote memorization.
I followed the example of Kelly Jensen and created a Summer Live List for our family. With the ages of our boys and our restrictions for travel this summer, we kept it simple. The boys had so much fun completing each item and would ask when we could do the remaining activities. As the kids grow older they will be able to offer more ideas on each seasonal live list (and their personal life live list), whether big or small. Hopefully this is a fun way our family can be active and involved in each other’s lives for years to come.
So here we are on the last day of summer vacation. We completed every item on our live list and made some wonderful memories along the way. Our boys have maintained their knowledge from last school year by completing their workbooks and we have built upon that foundation. They are excited for school to begin tomorrow and to learn even more. I have enjoyed this little sneak peek at homeschooling and have learned how fun it can be and that we totally can do it if necessary in the future. Overall, my takeaways:
- Much more relaxed schedule. No worries about being on time for drop off/pick up, especially with a half day preschooler and full day elementary schooler. It didn’t matter if we were running late at the grocery store. If nap times got pushed back an hour, then we can just stay home until everyone wakes up. We can take field trips that are an hour away because there’s no rush to get back.
- There are learning opportunities everywhere! We can take school with us anywhere and take advantage of real life and nature to learn. For example: seeing critters outside and learning about “monsoons” with all the rain we received. One of the best learning devices is reading- I tried to read to the boys while they did other activities. I worried it might be background noise to them, but they remembered the stories and would ask for me to read more.
- Spending freeze! Unintentional, but definitely beneficial! I don’t want to drag three kids through Target or HomeGoods to browse, so I don’t mindlessly spend. Win win.
- The kids are with me everywhere I go. So errands might have to be cut short. Potty breaks have to be factored in. Coffee dates with friends may not happen.
- Miss out on Bible studies etc that do not offer homeschool childcare. Thankfully, since it is summertime most of these are on break also, but I would miss opportunities for fellowship during the regular school year.
- My personal time management/self care severely lacks. It is much harder to set aside time for myself when I am surrounded by little humans 24/7. Ironically, this is when I most need it! I am more physically tired after occupying the boys all day so instead of making time for myself to get a haircut or do my nails, I would rather spend free time taking a nap or getting some chores done (because it’s much harder to get things done with three sets of helping hands).
Every family has different needs and goals for their children’s education. There is no right or wrong answer and education is definitely not one size fits all. I am so thankful that there are numerous educational avenues available and that we have the freedom to homeschool if we choose. It is not our path right now and I am very thankful for our school and for the educators who invest in my boys.
How do you school your children? Have you considered homeschooling?
What was your favorite part of summer break?