Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Will I Homeschool During the Summer?

Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.
~ Ernest Dimnet

Lately, I have been asked by several people if I will be homeschooling through the summer, mostly by people who are just curious about homeschooling. I explain that I will be, because I prefer to take more breaks in the autumn and spring when the weather is cool and there are so many activities like spring and autumn fests. Some people think it is a good idea because children forget so much during a long summer break and others probably think I am mean not to let my daughter just play, as if she does not get to play daily far more than any public school child. Of course, the Princess will chime in, at times, that she should not have to do lessons if the other children aren't in school, but I am quick to remind her of how we rarely do lessons on Thursdays and how we took off all of December to bake and decorate when other children were sitting in school. Actually, that was just the tip of last year's iceberg.

I rarely get to plan our homeschool breaks, they are just something that happens called LIFE. In fact, I consider life to be homeschooling, just not in a formal, traditional way that most recognize as a method of education.

Last year, I stayed six weeks with my husband's father while his mother was in the hospital and recovering in a rehabilitation care center. It just was too disruptive for lessons, so I just focused on having the Princess read books and doing my lesson planning for the next year and buying up those back-to-school specials--I thought I had gotten enough notebook paper and index cards for the rest of her school years, but since she is writing much more now, I realize that I might have enough for two or three years of paper and maybe a year with index cards. When I did get home it took me another two weeks to unwind and get back to a schedule and it took the Princess even more time. She just did not want to go back to the discipline of doing lessons daily at all, but she had a recital so at least she practiced piano and then math.

It felt like I was just getting back to a routine. I started with just the light work and eased other subjects back into our lesson time, but we did not really get back into it as I hoped. While with my husband's parents, my mother's health deteriorated to the point she would need dialysis. My husband was expected to work in Columbus for a week so we all drove up to Ohio, staying with my aunt and uncle and cousins, who live together in a house large enough to accommodate guests and have the gift of hospitality. As I suspected when I saw her, that autumn visit with my mother was to be our last.

Back home again and still struggling to get back on a schedule with homeschooling, the holidays were upon us and the Princess had another recital of sorts, called a pianothon, at the beginning of December. After that it was just impossible to do much as we prepared for Christmas. It would be January before I felt we were back to our regular routine.

Then my mother passed away at the end of January and we had to make another trip to Ohio for the funeral going straight into the aftermath of the worst ice storm in that area. It was a bit scary on the roads, but we made it. That trip was difficult because my mother's funeral was not the only event. Two lambs were born on a bitter cold night and my aunt's 35 year old horse went down in his stall. One of the lambs died and the horse died. It was heartbreaking.

When we got back it took me some time to recuperate emotionally and I was so thankful that my daughter was being rather cooperative with starting back to a full lesson schedule. However, I really doubted my ability to homeschool this last year. I actually toyed with the idea of public school in the back of my mind. It would not be so bad if she went to public school now that she is older. Look at her friends that go and they are nice children.

There were also reminders of the downside. My sister's daughter could not go see her grandmother in the autumn because the principal of the school said she had already missed too many days, but she was allowed to later come to the funeral? Perhaps it is a character flaw in me that I would just not take it well should school officials and teachers dictate to me about what my daughter must and must not do when it comes to things like visiting very ill family members.

Piano lessons are the real blessing for me. It is the very first thing the Princess does as part of her lessons each day after breakfast and devotions. Even if we do nothing else, she is expected to practice piano at least and it pulls me back into a schedule. When we did get back on a regular schedule after the last trip, the Princess was much more compliant about it. My concerns about whether I am able to homeschool as these challenges come up seems to be put to rest for now, thanks to my Lord.

Homeschooling is a blessing. I was able to help family, visit family, and even have time to grieve with play time mixed in. The Princess had the opportunity to learn to skate on a flat driveway while we were in Florida. She learned first hand that family is very important and worth the interruption of daily schedules because life is precious and finite in time. Of course, the Princess did not progress in her lessons as much as I had planned, but because she is older and more capable to understand, she is breezing through lessons now and she is now more able to help me with tasks. That time that we did not do lessons was not wasted nor lost. My Lord is taking care of it all. There is no catching up with the class, just moving on from where we are. Because some of her lessons, particularly in language arts, history, and science, are geared to teaching multiple grade levels as homeschooling parents of various aged children would be doing, it is only a matter of her doing the work according to her abilities at the time.

We will not have a summer break--well, we might, but it will not be a planned one--still she will have time to learn on her own and to play.

~ My Lord, thank you for reminding me that You are guiding my daughter's education and that not only am I capable of homeschooling, but that You have called me to do it. Thank you, also, for giving us time to play. ~

1 comment:

  1. Hm, no arguements here about that thing called life that teaches all the lessons school seems to think so very unimportant but that God seems to hold in rather high regard. We struggle to even keep a schedule ~ thanks to life & musical life in particular. That aspect will only get worse sadly but then it is the one area Ditz is prepared to discipline herself so I can't complain. Lucky you to have some warm weather. My bones ache this morning.


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.