This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What Do Homeschoolers Do About Summer?

Brianna, summer 2008

Now that June is ending and summer is getting into full swing, the question of how to handle "summer vacation" in a homeschooling household comes up. Do we follow the old tradition of two or more months' leave? Take a more "track" schooling approach and do a few months on, one off? Or does the homeschooling family crack the whip and make every day a School Day?

For those of you who have read earlier posts on this blog, you'll know that our household takes the road to education less traveled...even among homeschoolers. We use "unschooling," or a curriculum-free curriculum largely based on every day life experiences. In so doing, we not only take a unique approach to lessons, but to our downtime as well.

In general, Wonder World Academy runs 365 days per year, at least 16 hours per day. (I figure my child is still learning while she sleeps, as dreams and interpretation is one of our which case, we are in operation 24/7.) Sounds harsh, doesn't it? How could we push our child so hard? How can we ignore the human need for downtime needed to recharge mentally, physically, and emotionally?

Some days you gotta just stop and squeeze the lamb chop

Well, I said our school "runs" all year long, not that we don't have fun time and R&R. We celebrate holidays, have goof off days, scheduled days where video games are practically mandatory, and yes, a summer vacay coming up where I have arranged to have sixteen glorious days away from my job to focus on doing whatever we want. Nevertheless, our school will not be taking a vacation from learning.

The days leading up to vacation are currently filled with counting and time concepts (ticking days off the calendar), math and money (saving piggy bank money to be turned in on Day 1 of vacation to be spent as we please), organization skills (discussion about how to maximize our activities during the time off), reading (vacation ideas books from the library, websites, etc), science (weather during vacation, etc.), and more. When the vacation arrives, there will be more money/math (wise budgeting, counting How Much Money Is Left, etc.), reading for entertainment and to help select activities, social studies as we take in local town offerings, art projects, science (making ice cream, discussing pool chemicals, buoyancy in water, rate of ice melt), and music/fine arts (via local summer theater and concerts).

Every minute will be a learning experience for Bri, yet hopefully fun ones. As our teaching strategy focuses largely around finding "Teachable Moments," vacation will provide a bounty of these if we're paying attention. In short, we are in the midst of a vitally important Vacation Unit Study that may well incorporate everything from photography to gravity (what goes up must come down in the farmer's market Bounce House).

Photo courtesy of Stock Xchg

So whether your kids are homeschooled, unschooled, private or public schooled, as they are running around with sand between their toes and ice cream on their faces this summer, don't forget that they aren't truly on vacation. Learning is a process that never stops, and we as parents can help it along when our kids least expect it. Happy summer!