Summer School and Embracing Unschooling
A few months ago I mentioned I’d be going “full-steam ahead” with schooling during the summer. Hah. My plan for formal learning has fizzled. I have come to realize that Raisin needs a break as much as I do. Given the fact that Raisin is still five, but working on a first grade or above level, I have realized that forcing him to do school should not be a requirement for his summer days.
I’ve learned a lot over the past 12 months to 16 months since I decided for sure to begin homeschooling, versus sending my son away to school. While I believe I’d work best with a clear schedule to follow — complete with boxes to check off — this is not the way my child best learns. He learns when he’s ready. He learns when I’m not forcing him. He learns when we’re driving to a museum and he asks about the signs he sees. (“What is Blood Alcohol Limit? How does alcohol get in to the blood? Why can’t someone drive if they have been drinking?”)
I ask him to do a cursive copywork sentence or do a page of mathematics each day still. Most days, one or the other gets done. But I’m finding that as we embrace a relaxed approach to learning, he is happier, I am happier, and we’re sure having fun as he learns!
Yesterday, our plans were rained out, and I felt antsy, eager to get out of the house. So we took off and headed to a museum to which I have a membership for the year. I am not certain which of the exhibits were a hit this time, but I do know what he learned as we drove: local geography, math, who is Jane Addams? (we drove on a road named after her), practice speaking and understanding Spanish (more on this, as I love the program we are using!). It was a successful day of learning.
Is there a place for more formal learning? Of course. And the day will come when I require more formal learning to take place before we head out for fun. But as summer progresses, I find myself more eager to embrace the natural learning and abandon schedule for good.
Another homeschooling blog recently posted a Q&A Friday about whether or not they summer school. Her reasons for schooling through the summer included:
- She wanted her kids to understand that school is not something that happens on a schedule.
- She wants to have flexibility during the year.
- She wants to avoid summer chaos.
I find these valid reasons to keep a school schedule. But I have also found myself delighted with the natural learning that is happening as we abandon schedule. I could give the same reasons for not keeping a schedule. If I try to enforce a learning schedule, I know there will be chaos! Why do I need to finish my curriculum? I don’t!
I can see myself letting go more during the year too. I hope I can keep nurturing my children’s interests even as I push them to learn more and challenge themselves. This summer is a good beginning to unschooling for our next year.