Remember spring fever? I recall sitting in a desk looking longingly out the window, waiting for the bell to ring so I could answer the sun’s call.
We sense it in our homeschools as well, the shift in weather drawing us outdoors–away from worksheets and responsibilities.
What if it’s meant to be this way–this inner impulse and desire for nature this time of year? Maybe it doesn’t mean that we’re lazy or undisciplined after all.
One message most of us received from the traditional education we grew up with is that school days should follow the same pattern, no matter what is happening outdoors. It tells us to bring uniform productivity to our days–with math always followed by English followed by science followed by recess, and so on.
But I’d like to make a case for seasonal education–the idea that different lessons are best taught at certain times of year, and that we aid our efforts as homeschooling parents when we work with the seasons instead of against them.
Here is a list of the seasons and a few of the lessons they teach. (Apologies to those in the Southern Hemisphere–adjust these as needed to suit your situation!)
Photo by morning_rumtea
- Science, including the following:
- Nature study
- Spring is also a good time for getting our environments/homes in order. (Think spring cleaning!)
- The perfect season for a six month inventory, evaluating what each of our students need most
- Family time
- Travel learning (think vacations)
- Building & nurturing bonds with extended family
- Working together on projects
- Summer doesn’t have to be completely without academics; hot afternoons are perfect for indoor study or reading times.
- In our home we learn year-round, which gives us plenty of flexibility in all seasons. In summer I restructure our day so we have extra time outdoors in both mornings and afternoons. This still leaves us with a big portion of the day to devote to indoor learning pursuits.
- Autumn is for beginnings; the perfect time for kicking off new starts and goals.
- It represents a return to normal rhythm & routine after the expansiveness of the summer.
- I like to do another six month inventory at this time of year.
- Winter is the ideal time for stories and study.
- Before indoor heating, the cold used to draw families together around a wood stove for warmth. After chores were done, time was used for the learning and studying that couldn’t happen in other seasons because of the farm work required.
- It’s a time for drawing inward and passing on important life lessons.
Resources for a Seasonal Education
Many of the ideas included here originate from the book Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille. I highly recommended it–I find myself rereading and flipping through this book often.
The Waldorf tradition also emphasizes schooling through the seasons and celebrating seasonal festivals. Popular books include All Year Round, Festivals, Family and Food and The Children’s Year. Another helpful resource is The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons by Amanda Blake Soule.
It’s important to maintain basic rhythms to our days–after all, meals must be made and cleaned up no matter which season it is. But we can create our rhythms with an eye to maintain a seasonal education as well.
Let’s use these guideposts of nature to our advantage in our homeschool.
What impact have you found the seasons having in your homeschool?
This post originally published in April 2012.