Written by contributor Hillary Boucher
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Once upon a time my kids were just babies and I did a lot of thinking about what homeschooling might look like for us. One of my ideas was to ground our learning journey by closely following, engaging in and learning about our local seasonal cycles.
I knew that being aware of our place in the seasons would help us to feel grounded in the natural rhythms of our world — an excellent starting point for important learning. It would also help balance out the stress that comes with the “go, go, go!” pace of our modern lives.
As the years passed and I grew into the practicalities of homeschooling I remained determined to root our learning in seasonally inspired activities.
When I look back I can see that I put a lot of pressure on myself. I would often feel disappointed if we didn’t acknowledge the Solstice with a full feast or if apple picking just meant apple eating and no apple pie baking (and thus the missed opportunity to learn fractions while we baked.) I even remember melting down a few years ago while we were decorating the Christmas tree and baking cookies.
I had entered a vicious cycle of setting lofty expectations that I was unable to fulfill, and then inevitably feeling badly.
At one point I was so stressed out trying to take care of the family and create seasonal wonderlands that I just stopped trying to make those seasonal connections altogether.
Photo by Cristiano Betta
How I learned to K.I.S.S
Then I learned to K.I.S.S. I shared my feelings with a friend and fellow homeschooler who was just as busy as me, but somehow managed to bake dragon bread on Michaelmas. Her advice? She told me I needed to K.I.S.S., or rather, I need to keep it simple, silly.
Pick something simple and achievable and do it.
This has turned out to be the best advice and much goodness has come out of embracing the keep it simple attitude.
Kids don’t need elaborate plans to have fun, learn or make memories. They are learning all the time, and if your harvest festival consists of pulling over at a farm stand to pick out a few pumpkins on the way home — it’s good enough. If it was fun and cozy and together, that memory will grow into the festival you had hoped it would be.
Since I’ve pulled off the pressure to go big with every seasonal change I’ve noticed something. It’s actually easy to experience and learn with the seasons. It’s all around us. We swim in the summer, pick pumpkins in the fall, play in the snow in the winter and jump in the spring puddles.
Ever since my “aha” moment it’s been easier to supplement seasonal activities. Whether it’s as simple as downloading seasonal printables from my favorite blogs or carving pumpkins and counting the seeds as high as we can go — we are truly learning through the seasons.
I only had to slow down, keep it simple and pay attention to notice.
What’s your family’s favorite seasonal activity?
Johanna @ My Home Tableau
So important. On the docket for today actually is making an apple pie. But you know…if it doesn’t get done. Well, oh well! We’ll still enjoy the apples 🙂
I tend to set big lofty plans as well, and then feel like a failure. Learning to let go and be simple! Thanks for the reminder!
Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: Why I Don’t Emphasize Rote Memorizing
I think if we are on the lookout and acknowledge the desire to connect with the seasons, great opportunities will arise. They may not be ‘textbook’ but usually end up being wonderful. I find around the seasonal festivals we’ll have the chance to get together with friends, or an activity will come up that works beautifully. It may not be an ‘official’ celebration but I think life is so much better when it really comes from the heart : )
Emmalina’s latest post: Wood Fired
I think this is a key concept with raising children in general, but especially homeschooling families. It’s easy to turn anything into a learning activity, and because of that, many times we try to turn EVERYTHING into a learning activity. Just because we could research the history of the lightbulb, read a biography of Thomas Edison, and construct light boards from scratch, all centered around going to the store for some new light bulbs, doesn’t mean we should do that. Great insight!
Well said Hillary! I also often set such lofty ecspectations & then when they don’t pan out I feel as if I failed. Thanks for the advise & reminder that it’s okay to just keep it simple!
I think I’d better write K.I.S.S. in the front of my homeschool planner so I see it every time we start our school day! Better yet maybe post it on our fridge so we all can be reminded of it!
I never thought about homeschooling with such a focus on seasonal activities. And it makes sense! It’s a way to enjoy what we have now in the present – something a lot of kids miss out on rushing to and from without a moment to slow down. Those are great values you’re giving them that will carry on until adulthood. But as with most everything in life, in the end simple fun stuff matters more to than anything. 🙂
I needed this so much today! Halloween is tomorrow and we just went through an almost direct hit from Hurricane Sandy. We are lucky and our home hasn’t been touched and other than a few downed branches things are fine … around us though not everyone has been so lucky. I have been feeling bad for my two little ones since their Halloween plans have all been canceled …. a trunk or treat and our town trick-or-treating and a costume day at the library. We had planned to do it all ….. but instead they are making some patterns with Halloween worksheets I downloaded and playing games for pieces of candy (originally bought for trick or treaters) …. it may not be the celebration we had planned but it will definitely be one we remember!