Thursday, August 1, 2013
Our approach to homeschooling follows very clear seasonal rhythms. In the summer, we spend most of our time swimming and hiking and enjoying the fresh, warm air with hardly any structured activities, except for the occasional low-key soccer clinic. Winter is much the same, with structured classes taking a back-seat to family skiing, and skating, and sledding, and lots of indoor time reading books around the fire. This coming winter, in particular, will likely be very slow and simple as we make room for a newborn and all the magic and mayhem that entails.
But fall and spring? Those are our busiest seasons, when excitement builds for new classes and interesting experiences. About this time every year, just as August pokes through, I get into fall planning mode, sorting through the many homeschool and community class offerings and making sure not to get so carried away by all the opportunities that we become over-scheduled and over-burdened. Finding that right balance between great classes and an abundance of free-play time can be tricky when there is so much to choose from steps from our doorway. Some years I have found that we do too much in one season, some years a bit too little, but this fall is shaping up to be just right.
Our fall line-up includes beloved favorites, such as our weekly art, math, and nature homeschool classes, as well as new-to-us homeschool classes in woodworking and sewing and other handicrafts. Sprinkled in to our fall schedule are other classes in music and science, baking and gardening, museum classes, homeschool playgroups and park days, and ample space for those unexpected classes and workshops that always pop up.
So much of our family's homeschooling revolves around tapping into our community's resources. Kitchen-table homeschooling, or school-at-home approaches, have never felt quite right to us when there are so many people and places to learn from so close by. In fall, we split our time between these structured classes and lots of unstructured time to play and explore as the children choose. Then, as winter approaches and fall programs end, we settle in to a slower pace. We emerge again with a busy spring schedule, and retreat once more come summer to spend as much free time as possible outside in the bright sunshine.
This is how our homeschooling rhythm changes with each season, offering a blend of structured and unstructured, instructor-led and family-focused, city and country, learning opportunities while being vigilant in ensuring that no one (including mama!) gets too overloaded. I am keeping all of that in mind, and trying to savor these remaining summer days, as my excitement builds for a new season of living and learning.
Have you started thinking about Fall yet? What are some highlights of your upcoming Fall homeschooling rhythms?