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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Homeschooling: What Do You Do in the Summertime?

At least two mornings a week our doorbell rings and it's one of the girls' friends.  Can Kathleen and Sophia come out to play?  The girls look at me and groan as I shake my head.  "No," they sigh, "We can't.  We have school."

Yes, that's right.  We have school in the summer.  I'm a horrible mother.

When I was in school year-round school started becoming popular.  For some time it looked like our whole school district was in danger of giving in to peer pressure, but in the end we were saved from a fate worse than death.  Some schools became year round, and I remember wondering why any child would ever want to give up the most sacred part of the year, the long endless days of nothing to do but swim read and hang out, to go school.  Surely there must be something wrong with them.

Now I'm on the other side of the equation and I know exactly why those children went to year-round school, and it had nothing to do with their preferences.  Because what a child sees as a paradise - months with nothing to do - is a mother's nightmare.  After having over nine months of scheduled, structured, planned life, everything is thrown to the winds and not only does mom have to get everything done she normally does - cook, shop, clean, and other household business - she has to add referee, in-house entertainment, chauffeur, and playmate to her workload.  Theoretically the children could help out with the household chores so mom has more time to spend on summer activities, but two and a half months is not nearly enough time to set up any kind of new helpfulness habit.

So that's why we have school in the summer.  Because what else would we be doing?  A day off every now and then is fine, but after a couple of days of no schedule, children start eating each other alive.  And if I have to impose some sort of schedule to keep cannibalism at bay, it might as well be school - a schedule that already works for us.

We'll take a month off for our R&R in August - by then I'll need a break - but that's the only big break we'll take this summer.  When we had visitors in the spring we took a month off to spend with them - nobody flies all of the way to Azerbaijan just to watch children be taught about ancient Rome.  Holidays we take off because that's the family rule - no work on holidays.  And we'll be taking another forced break when we leave in six months and have at least a month of home leave.  But otherwise, it's all school all the time.

Of course we occasionally will take days off for fun summertime things.  This past week a friend invited us to go to a beach club with here, so we had a field trip.  Everyone needs a field trip every now and then, right?  The girls have swim lessons on Thursday mornings, so Thursday afternoon we have abbreviated school.  Fridays I always take off - why have school on Friday when you can not have it instead?  

We only have one area - history - with a set number of lessons that have to be completed (it's kind of hard to skip ahead) and that will be finished before we leave, so I consider my duty to first grade just about completed.  Science has a somewhat nebulous number of lessons, and math and language arts are on a rolling schedule - when you finish one book, start the next one, so we don't have to worry about finishing them by a set time.

Sometimes I daydream of long empty summers that are filled with long days at the pool and lots of trips to the beach.  Then I wake up and look around at my four children and remember reality - four children equal work no matter where you are.  So I might as well get some good out of that work and take smaller breaks.  Maybe we'll change it up later but for now, the girls will have to keep telling their friends to come back in the afternoon.


PaulaJean said...

Thanks for taking time off while we were visiting. I wasn't in the mood for ancient Rome. Maybe next time.

UnkaDave said...

This sounds like a clear case of child abuse. Oh, if you were only in the U.S...