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This year we have embraced seasonal learning for two reasons. One was that I got pregnant this fall and the first trimester was ROUGH. We are playing a little catch up. The second was that we are still refining how we want to homeschool. That being said, I’m loving how it has ironed out.
Even though my kids have spent a HUGE chunk of time outside since it was finally warm enough, they still come in by mid-afternoon ready for some quiet time.
This is the time where we get back to basics. Usually, I read a story to each to ease the transition and then we go to work. Basics for both girls consist of the bible & daily prayer. The 5 year old get the big 3 added on – math, reading & writing. We still have a little math to finish up, and she is just starting to really get reading and I don’t want those skills to slip. Plus, she hates handwriting and we really need to work on it so I make time for that, too.
Determine a handful of things that your child needs extra work in, or that you don’t want their skills to slip in and make sure that gets done on a quasi-regular basis. Ours (should) takes only about 20-30 minutes.
Summer learning is fabulously fun because none of it feels like learning!
Summer lends itself especially well to life sciences. In fact, I’m really liking working through our Apologia science in the spring/summer/fall exclusively. Since we do it daily instead of twice a week, we get through it quickly and experiments aren’t quite so difficult–it’s prime time for bugs & birds!
If we did not have a baby arriving this summer, travel would probably be on our short list and would make an excellent reason to study geography, especially if you were going cross country. Not only does Road Trip USA provide some fun activities, but you could pick items up as you travel and make a scrapbook, notebook or lapbook of what you are learning as you travel.
Summer also lends itself well to rabbit trails. Since children are naturally curious and things are a little more laid back, you can take time to explore rabbit trails. Just a few days ago, the girls wanted me to read them a book about musical instruments. That led to listening to instrument sounds on YouTube, which lead to watching Peter & the Wolf, followed by listening to Mike Mulligan before I finally declared that was enough from the iPhone for the day!
Other rabbit trails we’ve discovered during summer include history & industry as we attended various events like our local steam engine show, a fur trade reenactment/Rendezvous, visiting my hometown during the festival and seeing the big mining trucks & touring old schooners in the Great Lakes. We’ve also visited old forts, lighthouse & more. Besides all these, there are several patriotic holidays during summer — Memorial Day, Flag Day & Independence Day that can all lead to more information about why we are celebrating.
While my hubby might disagree, I think we are blessed to have actual seasons where we are because each season has a distinct rhythm to it. Since the weather can often be too cold for my kids to go outside (even with the right gear!), its a great time to get really in depth on certain subjects.
Because there is little else to do, we go more into depth on everything. As Oliver DeMille pointed out in The Thomas Jefferson Home Companion, even farmers had nothing else to do but learn in the winter :).
Our reading includes a more robust program including rules, spelling, and handwriting in addition to practice. Our math includes more new concepts and less review. Bible expands from just reading & saying our daytime prayers to learning about our faith. We even pick up some character training again. After a lax summer, we need to mind our p’s & q’s to be able to get along while shuttered inside all day!
History is one of those subjects that we find works great in winter because we can really go deep into it. Library trips to get additional resources get us out of the house. Plus, unit studies like Great Empires allowed us to add lots of fun activities into dreary dark days of winter. If my kids were older,this would be a great time of year to allow documentaries on historical times, events and figures as well.
In addition to working on the basics, I also add in a lot of electives. Why? Simply because shut inside for months on end, there is a lot of room for boredom. Electives gives them options without letting them rot their brains in front of the TV. These are heavily child-led but I make sure there are plenty of resources available for art, music, & physical education (indoors). We also have plenty of good read aloud books available.
There are also a few things we work on because *I* feel they are important – french & typing to name a few. Because those use the computer, I get less resistance :). Geography gets studied in winter, too, as does grammar & memorization.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be regimented or feel like a school to be effective. Sometimes, all you need is a lifestyle that allows for learning wherever it occurs. Be ready to follow the rabbit trails and have ample supplies available for what they want to study & fits how they learn.
Do you find yourself operating on a seasonal schedule?