Monday, June 6, 2016

Why I Take a Long Summer Vacation...

... a.k.a  why I don't do year-round schooling..... a.k.a. Mama needs a break!

Homeschooling looks different for each family.  Some are early risers, some sleep in.  Some are textbook fans, some prefer "living books".   Some keep a strict daily and weekly schedule, some ... don't.

Some families follow a year-round schedule, and others love their summer break!  I fall in the latter category.

Perhaps it is because I am the daughter of two public school teachers, but I grew up with a deep appreciation for summer vacation.  In case any other summer lovers are feeling pressure to keep at the books during the sultry months, here are some of my reasons for taking a summer break. 

1.  Break from the routine: When my kids were younger, our school-year schedule was full of piano lessons, band practice, sports practices, field trips,  Co-op days,  enrichment classes, volunteer work, clubs, etc. etc.  All that was suspended for the summer months, and our schedule was our own!  We would go to the lake or the pool,  turn on the sprinkler in the yard, watch movies,  have play dates with friends,  do craft projects, play board games, build forts,  and just be free to relax.  I would usually make myself a calendar with an idea for each day, and  a poster with a list of "possibilities" for when the kids needed suggestions.  A few times I tried doing "school work" during the summer, but that never stuck, and honestly, I never worried about  "losing ground" over the summer.   We still read books; we still played educational games, we still went interesting places, we still learned something each day... how could we not? But it was different kinds of learning than what we focused on the rest of the year.   If we had to review some math at the start of the new "school year", that was no big deal to me.

2.  Visiting faraway family: Every summer we spent a week or two or three with the grandparents in Massachusetts, building family relationships and making memories. Some of my kids' favorite summer memories are of visits to Grammy and Grampa's antique-filled house with the big grassy yard, badminton net, and tire swing.   Special time was spent with cousins and neighbor kids.  Family traditions included going to see a movie at the Drive-In;  going to Dunkin Donuts with dad every morning;  visits to Southwick's Zoo and taking the train to Boston;  visiting Aunt Chris's cafe in Putnam; dinner at Wright's Chicken Farm; sleeping out on the screened porch;  sewing with Grammy and listening to Grandpa's stories.   Although we live hundreds of miles apart, these summer visits created strong bonds between the generations.

3. Summer Camps:  Summer camp was not part of my youth, but it has been a huge part of my children's growing up years!  The older boys enjoyed a week at Boy Scout Camp, usually with Dad, for many summers.  Basketball camp, Runners Camp,  Science Camp, Worldview Academy .... lots of specialized learning of all different kinds.  From age 8 on up through high school, my kids have spent a week every summer at New Life Camp.  From age 13 on, they also spent several weeks volunteering there as CITs, and eventually got summer jobs as counselors, program staff, lifeguard,
First Aid provider.  Leadership skills and a servant's heart, spiritual growth and maturity, mentors, best friends, and even a spouse have come from the time spent at this camp.

4. Family Camping: I grew up camping with my family during the summers, and continued doing that with my children.   We aren't rustic, back-country hikers, but enjoy a nice family campground with running water, flush toilets, and showers;  a playground and/or swimming pool /lake/mountain stream were nice bonuses!  Some camping trips were just lazy weekends swimming and fishing at a lake;  some involved exploring national parks or historic sites.  Some trips were nudged to the spring or fall months, since sleeping outside with no air-conditioning, in the South, during the summer,  requires a strong constitution! We camped with a big tent for many years, but upgraded to a pop-up camper the summer that we took a cross-country trip.  When we camped, each member of the family had certain responsibilities during set up, mealtimes, fire starting, break down, etc;  there was lots of family bonding and fun adventures and memory-making!

5. Cleaning/Organizing/School planning:  I am undeniably a "casual" housekeeper, and organization is not my strong suit, so things tend to "stack up" when life is super busy.  Summer break gives me a chance to find my bedroom floor, reorganize the school bins and bookshelves, sort through the piles of paper, clean out the closets, and study catalogs and websites as I plan for the coming school year.  Then throughout the year I can manage with occasional "Home/School Organization" days to keep things from getting too out of hand.

Enjoy your summer, whatever you have planned!

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