Friday, June 19, 2015

Summertime Plans and Ponderings...

So, we are actually on a summer break.  I don't know if we've ever taken a really-truly-proper summer break.  We've always been 'take off a week or two here and there' type of homeschoolers.  Taking a good six weeks off all at once….I don't think we've ever done that.
Why now?  Well, we had planned to be travelling all summer, so I had organized our school terms out accordingly since I'm not interested in trying to homeschool on the road.   Now we aren't going to be travelling apart from a couple of weeks to visit my in-laws at the end of July.   I didn't feel like tweaking the plans I had already made, however.  So a six-week summer break it is.    And quite honestly, the lack of regular routine aside, I'm relieved.  I love homeschooling.  Overall it has been a really fantastic, wonderful thing for our family.  At the same time I am really glad to have some time to come to a full stop for a while, to just enjoy being together as a family and doing things when and how we feel like doing them (rather than because the schedule says so), and to take time to reflect on the past few years – where we've been as a family, where we want to go as a family, and what we need to do to get there.             
This article on a Charlotte Mason style summer plan has been circulating lately and it gave me a good framework to think through how I want to use these precious weeks off this summer.  Here are some of my plans, inspired by that article:
Mother Culture:
I'm definitely planning to read this summer, although quite honestly most of my current reading is of the lighter variety.  I'm trying out Elizabeth Goudge on the recommendation of some AO friends, and have a couple of other lighter-but-not-twaddly novels on order thanks to their suggestions.   I'm not up for another Dickens or finally tackling a Russian author this summer. :P  I will hopefully finish up Beowulf and How to Read a Book – both books I'm discussing with some ladies on the AO Forum.   I'm re-reading  When Children Love to Learn (more on that in a minute).  I'm also trying to be intentional to carve out time for daily Bible study and spiritual reading every day – my soul is very much in need of refreshment so this is a top priority.
I am also planning to take advantage of my husband being around this summer to sneak out to a coffee shop once or twice a week to write.  I can't do this in Africa and I had almost forgotten that it was possible.   This is definitely an exciting development.
I'm also hoping to spend time in some crafty pursuits, both for myself and with the children.  Michelle and I have been crocheting together.  Littlest one is itching to do some sewing, and I have been wanting to try to learn some new embroidery stitches so I may sit down and do some of that with her.  We also recently bought the Artistic Pursuits Elementary 4-5 curriculum which focuses on drawing techniques – Michelle and I have enjoyed the first couple of lessons and the little ones have joined in some too – even Papa is intrigued and may join us next time we pull it out.  James is enjoying various hands-on fix-it jobs with his Papa.
We are hoping to plug in to a good local church where we are living for the year – we visited one last week that is very promising – my soul is need of corporate worship, good teaching  and fellowship (in English!!).  And I am also excited that I will be able to attend two different Ambleside Online Retreats later this summer and meet in person many of the ladies that have been my online homeschooling support network these past couple of years.  (I will be in Indiana and at a smaller retreat in the Texas Hill Country…will I see you?)
Nature and Outdoor Time:
This one has been a little tricky because it has been pushing 100 for the past week or so where we are.  We are from Africa.  It gets hot in Africa.  It doesn't get THIS hot in Africa (at least not the part where we lived).  Yeesh.  It's put a bit of a damper on our plans to try out some of the parks and nature trails in this new-to-us area, although as soon at the temperature dips a bit, we will.  In the meantime, we are at least trying to take a walk around our neighborhood in the evening when the heat isn't quite so intense.  We also  just got a season pass for our local pool which is only a 5 minute walk from our apartment – we'll be there often.  We've procured bikes for the children, and as soon as my husband can get a hold of one for himself he will probably start taking the older two out on bike rides a little farther afield than our parking lot. J   There is apparently a nature museum and a hands-on science museum in the nearby 'big city', so we may visit those on some of those too-hot-to-spend-much-time-outside days.
Take a Good Look:
I'm really good at making schedules and other practical plans for our homeschool.  I love making neat-and-tidy charts and checklists and organizing new books.  However, in the craziness of our life over the past few years, it's been a long time since I've considered matters such as atmosphere, relationships, and habits.   I'm re-reading When Children Love to Learn as a guide to help me contemplate these principles, and I'm determined to put off any further practical planning until I've had some good time to think and pray through these more foundational issues.   I'm also teaching in a co-op setting in the fall for the first time, so I also want to consider how to put those principles to work in a group setting.   I'm sure I'll be processing some of those thoughts in this space.  Stay tuned.
Masterly Inactivity:
And yes, we will be practicing masterly inactivity as well – unstructured time for personal pursuits.  My oldest has built – and is continuing to add to – a "Borrower House" in a corner of the living room.  James is spending lots of time with Legos – his room has become his Lego-Man-Cave (are 7 year olds enough to have a man-cave?  Well, he does anyway.)  Now if only I could convince my littlest one that masterly inactivity was a good idea….
What are you planning to do this summer?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


  1. Could you share the titles of the lighter but not twaddly novels? Thank you!

    1. The other two I ordered based on AO Forum recommendations were Cold Comfort Farm and I Capture the Castle. I've not read either yet, so hesitate to 'recommend' them, but I generally trust suggestions from AO ladies. :) I am almost finished with Elizabeth Goudge's The Bird in the Tree and will definitely be reading more by her as well. If you are registered on the AO Forum, you can see all of the suggestions I got in this thread:

  2. Hi Jen! We are still finishing Year 3 and taking breaks here and there :) I had to laugh out loud when I saw that you will not try to tackle a Russian author because I just started Anna Karenina :P I was obviously NOT thinking straight when I started lol. I'm just on chapter 11 but I am surprised how interesting it is.
    Even though we are still formally schooling the kids have the afternoon free for some masterly inactivity. It is amazing to see them come up with their own little projects. My dd6 has built a whole city in her room with farms, restaurants and even a trolley (an empty shoe box).
    Anyways, I am looking forward to meeting you in Indiana!! :)

    1. Oh yay, Karla - I'm so glad you'll be in Indiana too. :) I've been telling myself for 2 years that I was going to read AK...on day I will. Keep me posted on what you think and perhaps you'll inspire me to give it a go sooner rather than later. :)

  3. I can definitely relate to your "taking a good look"--I have been doing the same. I am finding it a far more useful way of spending my summer time than I even imagined. And it's getting me excited for next year!