Written by contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling
Back to school is upon us and there have been lots of discussions among fellow homeschoolers about the Big Day — the loss of carefree summer days, the stress of preparation, the hopeful direction of the new year.
It is a time filled with promising new materials to try out, and beloved old ones to continue with. For me though, I prefer to take the route less stressful. I propose a different outlook.
One of my goals with homeschooling, after all, is to raise lifelong learners. I want my children to remain naturally curious of their world and to seek information and acquaint learning as a natural part of their lives. Just as learning shouldn’t be limited to specific hours of the day, neither does it need to have a start and end date.
I totally understand the desire to make “back to school” special. This, however, seem more necessary for actual traditionally schooled children, who need to switch between vacation mode and school mode.
Although the beginning of a new semester wouldn’t be much of an issue for those who school year-round, it may be harder to dive back into for those of us who have spent the summer in non-academic endeavors. Even so, I prefer a more natural flow without all the transitional hoopla.
Go S L O W.
One thing I avoid is the announcement of the First Day Of School. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about that day as a child, and even now, it’s more likely to elicit a groan from my fellow homeschooling moms than anything else.
We generally start our days the way we normally would — eating breakfast, playing, reading. To this, I gradually add on any schoolwork — half an hour of math here, a science project there, as they fit throughout the week. If life happens to collide (say, a birthday party, get together with friends, or a massive pile of laundry in need of putting away), then we just go with it.
After all, the beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility — we aren’t necessarily chained to a schedule, although some of us, depending on the state requirements or program, may be more flexible than others. In an average week, we balance traditional schoolwork (assignments that must be turned into the charter school) with everyday activities.
Immerse In The Everyday
Another aspect I love about homeschooling is the opportunity to learn throughout the day.
As my children and I await the impending birth of their new sibling, for example, we discuss and learn about the baby’s development, and their future responsibilities. We compare the baby’s growth to a myriad of everyday objects (She’s as big and long as Dad’s slipper and weighs about as much as this cauliflower.) and compare her birth date to their birthdays.
This, I believe, has proven especially helpful for my youngest. It is real life learning and relates to her in a way that she can understand. I love when these opportunities present themselves to us, and am thankful that we don’t have to wait until “school time” to learn the science or math involved.
As we get better at erasing the line between school and home, we will reach a more ideal place of where I want our family to be.
Hopefully, the desire to learn will always be ongoing and met with enthusiasm, rather than a switch to turn off and on at the beginning and ending of the summer.
How do you erase the line between school and home?
Jeanine Byers Hoag
This is SO helpful!
We do Waldorf homeschooling and take summers off. Here we are in week 2 and I’m already overwhelmed, not to mention mourning the loss of those hours of work-at-home time! My nine-year-old son tells me that last week was kind of “bland” and so far, he is not really enjoying homeschooling. Sigh.
I recently began a daily practice of meditation (decided to get serious about it) and he meditates with me. Maybe this is what we need to meditate about tomorrow!
And going slow: GOOD IDEA!!! Why did I decide to load us up in our first two weeks?
Slowing down is something I am working on in other areas of my life. Looks like I left out homeschooling in my slow down plan.
As I fall asleep tonight, I’m going to ask for help with turning over a new slow-down leaf!
Jeanine Byers Hoag’s latest post: New Guided Meditation from Deepak Chopra
I love this! I hate making a big deal about “the first day of school” because even though we don’t “school” over summer, we’re still always learning. I don’t want that distinction!
We start slowly with just a few subjects and gradually add the others in as the weeks progress. Great article!
Momma Roar’s latest post: Fall is almost here!
renee @ FIMBY
I’m all will you Amida. We don’t have any back to school traditions and I try to blur those lines as much as possible. Though in the past couple years we do have some sit down schoolwork (math & writing) a couple mornings/week.
We blur those lines by having a “learning all the time mentality”. Lots of reading, discussion, conversations, explorations – regardless of the time of day or season. These things happen all year round. We don’t turn a switch and say “now we’re learning, now we’re not”.
I just finished a three week, late summer, get organized break since we are doing our little bit of sit down work all year round now. Next week we will get back to our math practice and more intentional writing practice.
Thank you so much! I’ve been a little blown away by the energy of the back to school movement and to us it’s just another week. It’s been a little lonely at our camp these past two weeks, but reading this made me smile and say, “YES!”
hillary’s latest post: Blogging Sabbatical- Intentionally Balancing Family- Work and Life
Rachel at Stitched in Color
Yes, exactly! I feel dishonest promoting the “first day of school” at home, because we keep learning all summer long. I like a gradual transition myself.
Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: Stashing Geometrics
Love this post. While all the kids head back to school we have a tradition of celebrating not going back to school with a day trip. This year we went to visit my sister and her family for a couple of days. For us it was just another week with a fun field trip added in.
Rana’s latest post: Road Schooling
I love this idea! A “Not Back to School” trip! Gotta do this next year…
Paula@Motherhood Outloud’s latest post: An Uncomplicated Life- Homeschool
We intentionally don’t blur the lines. The first day back to school is a big celebration at our home. I simply can’t keep up all summer with the intensity that my kids want to be learning at. So we maintain an environment of learning in every season, but my commitment to them to increase what I do/make available/teach them during “school months.”
I think this is partly because they both had a year or two in school and so the connotations of having a schedule were positive. I think there are a lot of homeschoolers out here who try to maintain a learning environment and a school environment as both positive things and something to anticipate and make a distinction for.
(Otherwise am I sending the subliminal message that school is bad? That won’t serve them if they want to attend one in the future! )
And I say this with respect for those of you doing differently – just wanting to add a voice from a family that is on a different track, too! Now the easing in slow… that I can relate, too! 🙂
Misha@ beautyandjoy’s latest post: A Last Favourite Summer Salad We Are Still Eating It
We do school year round and we do have set times for learning (morning and afternoon) but I encourage learning outside of our set times. This year we didn’t have a first day of school– we just eased into our new books. I love finding learning moments outside while sitting on the patio, while we are taking a walk around the bike path or at my doctor appointment. Even when hubby and I talk about current events around the world– kiddo listens in and ask questions.
Carrie’s latest post: Simple Fall Decorations
A back to school tradition I plan to start with my kids is a little different. My 5 year old is a little dissapointed after finding out he will not be joining the neighborhood boys on the Big Bus this fall to go to Kindergarten. We decided to make ours a celebration of not being restricted to the dates that the public school is so we are taking a family vacation for the first week of school. Probably camping complete with waterpark or amusement park (that’s more fun than riding a yellow bus, right?) It will be great to miss the crowds and long lines! And when we get back… a special stay-up-late night with popcorn and movies and staying in pajamas the next day and hanging around the house browsing all the great BOOKS and ACTIVITIES for the year!
I am excited about it and I hope my excitement gets to him too.
Becky’s latest post: Lunch and Division