Wednesday, August 6, 2008

summer school

I know that summer is winding to a close.

I know that because all my annual flowering plants, the ones that I buy every year despite my "black thumb," are dried up and ready to be tossed. I know that because when I venture out for an evening walk, the sunset sends me home a little earlier each night. I know it's true because the stores have been selling back to school supplies for over a month now. Yep, it's almost THAT time again. Time to go back to school.

We're a homeschooling family, and have been for, let's see, sixteen years. Some of my friends insist on "formal" schooling throughout the summer months, but not me. If my kids weren't begging for lazy days around the pool with absolutely no textbooks allowed, I certainly would be. I love the summer days, the days without lesson plans, spelling tests, and that ever-present question: Did you do your math? Uggh.

We take the summer off.

But just because we don't crack open textbooks doesn't mean we stop learning. In fact, I sometimes think we learn more when we're just not trying to.

So here's a little something called "What We Learned On Our Summer Vacation," by Me.

It is really fun to go swimming at night, even with the mosquitoes.

You can fit approximately 1,798,322 legos on the dining room table if there are no school books hogging the space.

Italians like Jordon almonds, and throwing them at the newlyweds is a fertility ritual. (See this post if you are scratching your head.)

Reading books is fun, especially when you don't have to write a book report.

It takes 18 hours to drive to New Hampshire, not the 14 that is says on Mapquest.

You can survive eating cereal, sandwiches, or ice cream for dinner.

You don't have to travel far to see exotic, interesting creatures. Within blocks of our home we saw hummingbirds, weird moths, and squirrels in at least FOUR different styles.

Little boys can go for days without a traditional shower or bath.

It's important to take the time to make friends with a variety of folks, including your parents and grandparents, single people, and members of the clergy. People exactly like you are boring.

Regarding that last of my favorite evenings of the summer was spent at a friend's house. This friend is a single woman, a musician who doesn't have any children. She does, however, love the little rascals, and spending an evening at her house is thrilling to them. She has traveled all over the world and has all sorts of interesting artifacts and -- even better -- cool musical instruments. While visiting we spontaneously delved into some off-the-top-of-our-heads storytelling, with my six-year-old acting out the tale while the nine-year-old banged a GONG, shook a rainstick and rapped on several unique drums. Wow! It was amazing! What we would have missed if I had passed on the last minute invitation to bring the family over for dinner. What we would have missed if I had thought we should only hang out with families just like our own. What we would have missed...if we hadn't taken time for summer.

"Real" school will be starting in a few weeks. I don't intend to dread it this year, as I sometimes do. I plan to hold tight to some of the spontaneity of this season. I will remember that the best learning happens when we are relaxed, open, and well-fed on joy and ice cream (even for dinner.)

Now if I could just get those legos back in the box!


Anonymous said...

I was scared into having jordan almonds at my wedding reception. Luckily, no one threw them at us, but I think a few people might have cracked their teeth trying to eat them! ;)

I don't homeschool, but I let my kids have the summer off too. That just means they don't go to preschool and we swim quite a bit. They love it. When I'm not in the pool with them, I catch up on reading while I watch them.

Good luck getting the legos back in the box. I know how that can be.

Jamie said...

I love your list!! We take summers off too! I don't know many homeschoolers who do...but we need it. Living in MN, we enjoy our summers. I want my children to look back on their growing up years remembering their fun summers of swimming and going to parks every day, being free to just have fun!!

Don't you have a big wedding this week? Best wishes and I will pray for the beautiful couple! And the mama giving up her daughter!

Thank you so much for the book, I cried through the whole first chapter last night, can't wait to read the next tonight!

Cassie said...

We love to eat ice cream for dinner in the summer! The joyful memories created far outweigh whatever nutritional value was lost (but, hey, there's calcium in there, right?) I don't homeschool, but wish I could. I'm looking forward to the school year beginning though. It always feels a bit like a mini New Year's doesn't it?

Kim said...

It sounds like you and your children had a fantastically fun summer where you also learned a lot. I also learned about that whole 'little boy and lack of bath' thing, too:)

Christine said...

We took a science field trip yesterday.....we went to the beach! Since I began homeschooling, I realized that much of what we do is a learning experience. When we were on our way home from Hampton Beach in NH, it was low tide. DH had spotted a sailboat out on the ocean. He pulled over to take a photo, and lo and behold...TIDE POOLS! Our day was a blast (except for the LONG drive home. Our 1 1/2 hour trip took nearly 4 hours), and the kids got some low key education. I LOVE to sneak in some learning while having fun!

sexy said...