As summer break approaches, most of us Type-A homeschool mamas grab the nearest writing utensil and start planning for next year, don’t we?? I love homeschooling, and since it is one of my biggest passions, it’s so easy to want to plan, plan, plan and use every moment to make our homeschools better than before.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about summer and how it’s really sacred ground. One, because it’s such a short time and two, because for one brief season of the year, I’m just Mom.
Not teacher, not math drill Sargent, but just Mom. I kind of love taking that role up a notch or two during the summer months, so here are a few things that I’m not going to be doing this summer.
1. Obsess about the new school year. Most of us are having to juggle several different grade levels and this coming school year for me will involve a whole lot of juggling. Not only will I be starting preschool with my three-year-old this year, when I am not necessarily good at the whole preschool thing (but I’m doing some things to get better), but my oldest will start high school, which is a whole new rough terrain for us.
When I let my brain go out on its own, it can get a little twitchy about all the ways I’ll be stretched when school starts next year. I could very easily get obsessed with worrying about the logistics of next school year: how we’ll fit in preschool into our days, and how to handle high school credits and transcripts.
The thing is, I just have to be confident in the fact that we’ve got eight great years of homeschooling under our belts and be okay with not knowing everything there is to know about homeschooling high school. It’ll all be great and worrying and obsessing won’t help anybody.
2. Spend all my money on new curriculum. The bright and shiny new curriculum is so tempting, isn’t it? But before I go all out and start swiping my debit card, I’m going to really analyze what’s on my shelves first. I’ve gathered so much great stuff over the years and so much that we never got around to using!
I’m excited about pulling some underused, underappreciated, but still great things off the shelves and finally incorporating them into our school days. I’m sure I’ll still purchase my fair share of curriculum, but I’m hoping to spend much less this year.
3. Use every free moment as a planning opportunity. I can get swept away in a dream cloud of planning supplies and coffee and new curriculum and open calendars. I actually love the planning time I get in the summer. But I found that the more free moments I fill up with planning, the more I can’t stop changing and over analyzing things.
This summer, I want to set aside a few days (or a few days with a few hours each) to make my plans for the year and move on. We’ve been at this for a while now and I sort of know what will work and what won’t. But every year is different and it seems that the plan has to get underway for a few weeks to know if it’s going to work or not. Then it’s tweak, tweak, tweak until it feels just right.
So instead of using every free moment to plan for the next school year, I’m going to use those extra moments to read for pleasure, go for runs, rearrange furniture and do other things that are harder to do when we’re in the school year.
4. Make my kids do tons of math so they don’t “get behind.” Look, I know kids can forget things over the summer, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep up a rigorous math routine to make sure that doesn’t happen. For the most part, my kids hate doing math. We got pretty behind in our math curriculum this year, so we are going to do a math lesson a day for a few weeks at the beginning of summer, but that’s it. I have to deal with math drama all school year. A few months off won’t hurt anybody.
5. Turn every fun summer idea I have into a unit study. Sometimes it’s just fun to go somewhere and not have to teach or learn all the history behind it. I constantly go into teacher-mode whenever I take my kids anywhere, and I know that sometimes, that saps the fun out of it for them…and me, if I don’t feel like they care enough.
So this summer when we visit a farm, or go to the zoo, or go to the art museum, I just want to go. I just want to be. And not worry about if my kids are or are not learning anything. Because the fact is, they are learning things. They are constantly learning things. I didn’t have to prepare anything ahead of time or follow it up with a pop quiz in the car to make sure they did.
I love teaching my kids at home. It’s my favorite! It truly is. But this summer, I want to be focused on being their mama, and leave school for later.
What are you not going to do this summer?