Another rainy May afternoon– so far this weather has not
put me in a summer frame of mind. While
the temperatures have finally risen to a respectable number, there has been an
awful lot of rain and not a lot of time for working in the yard. The weeds are having a big old party around
my flower beds, and I only planted my vegetables last week.
Everything is looking so green– my favorite color. We’re putting our new garden in the sunny place beyond the fruit trees this year. I love that we expanded the back yard. I’m not sure why we waited so long.
My snowball bush off the back patio.
Still, even without my help, the flower gardens are bursting
with blooms – in between those tenacious little weeds.
I’m also pretty fond of vacation. It’s our last week of school here in Elkin,
and as we wind down, I can feel the anticipation building for all of the wonderful things to come—camps, the
beach, family visits, cookouts with friends, backpacking, swimming, arts and
crafts, playing outside, gardening, good food, and lots and lots of unscheduled
time. I live for summer.
Mostly, I love summer because it allows me to be with my
kids all day. I miss them terribly when
they are at school. Summer break also
allows me to be their teacher. While
there is plenty of goofing off to be done in the summer, there’s also a lot of
learning that takes place, for them and for me.
Our time spent digging in the dirt, gathering stones from
clear running water at our favorite swimming hole, reading good books in the
hammock, kitchen experimentation and making things are all wonderful learning
opportunities, and there’s nothing to keep us from lingering as long as we want
in the summer. There is nowhere to go
and nothing in particular to do, and those are the times when real learning and
creative exploration can happen.
homeschooling next year. The idea has
been brewing for a while but I kept it mostly to myself for a long time, and I
thought it was a huge announcement when I broke the news to my girlfriends over
dinner one night. I expected
a collective gasp or at least a few raised eyebrows—I am after all the 18 year
teacher who has always been a huge proponent of public education (or at least
of the potential of public education)–, but no one batted an eye. I think they might have actually yawned. “Yeah, OK,” was their response. Nobody seemed the least bit surprised. I couldn’t believe it.
So I told some other folks (again, expecting gasps of horror
at attempting something so unconventional), but their reaction was “Oh, I can
totally see you doing that. You’d be
great.” Even teachers at the school
said, “That would be awesome!” or “You’ll have such freedom!”
And I guess it’s really not that surprising. I kind of homeschool already. I always have.
As I began researching homeschool websites and gathering
information (and believe me, there is a LOT of information), I discovered other
people with the same ideas about education and family living as me. There are, it turns out, as many
ways to homeschool as there are families who choose to do it, but I’ve discovered
so many people who share my educational philosophy and desire to teach their
One of the resources I discovered was Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool. I recommend it for anyone
who is considering homeschool or who already does, but I also think it is a
valuable resource for parents who want to very intentionally enrich their
children’s lives, whether they homeschool or not.
I have long believed in something called
“afterschooling.” The principles are
very much the same as those of homeschooling, but they are for parents whose
children attend traditional school during the day but then come home to fun
activities and free time for play in the afternoons. Jamie wrote a great post
recently about How to Homeschool Without Actually Homeschooling that I thought
I have no idea what the summer holds for us or what our
ultimate decision will be, but whether I decide to do full-time homeschooling
or continue with traditional school and a dose of afterschooling thrown in for
good measure, I know that parenting and teaching with an intention of learning,
playing, and growing together is something that any parent can do.