Ladies and Gentlemen, we have entered the season of summer. I know the meteorological season doesn't begin until June 1st and the Astronomical season doesn't begin until June 21st, but we all know the most important event that indicates the official start of summer: SCHOOL'S OUT!
I'd like to say we finished out school year with a bang here at our kitchen table, but we didn't. The truth is, we hung on by a thread as the work part sort of fizzled out for the last two weeks, (even while I insisted to them that we were indeed still on our school day schedule) and I kept planning “end of year outings” with a halfhearted intent for them to be somewhat educational. I did have them keep working through their math until (pretty much) the end, but I think we were all too burnt out to care by about the second week of May.
Overall we had a good year of homeschooling. Actually, a really good year. Anja is a very independent learner, and learns the most without me nagging her to “do” stuff. So, while we do copywork and handwriting, and formally learn math and prayers, a lot of science and history is learned freely through independent reading and then talking more about it after she tells me excitedly what she's been reading about. (Greta is much the same, but she is more learning on the coattails of Anja's research.) It's really a pretty good method, I'm finding out. It saves me from hearing the grumbles about having to “do” another subject, and truly, I believe they have learned more throughout the school year by this method than they would have if I had strictly followed a guided curriculum in those subjects. Grammar, spelling and writing structure have been learned entirely through combined reading and creative writing. I really feel like I've lucked out. And I worry because Elka does not share quite the level of enthusiasm for books as her two older sisters, and I wonder how that will change my methods of schooling for her when she's older. Greta is stubborn and competitive. She wants to know just as much information as Anja, so she listens very well, and does indeed learn... but she doesn't like to do her own research. She does read, and I find her reading on her own quite a bit (interestingly, I often find her reading poetry!) but she is a slower reader than Anja. She probably is at a perfectly age-appropriate level, but since Anja finished the first Harry Potter book in 2 days, Greta feels like she is behind, as she still strolls through Frog and Toad at a leisurely pace. In the end, it doesn't matter—they both have found a learning groove and luckily I have been able to pick up on how best to facilitate it. At least in the liberal arts part of schooling...
I'd be curious to know at what point in history did “math” become a bad word? My kids used to love math. They used to love to sit down and work out equations or measurements. They loved learning about counting patterns and Anja figured out on her own the multiplication tables just by seeing one day how multiplication worked, while she was adding. But then all of a sudden, this year, they decided it's just TORTUROUS to do the dreaded MATH. UGH. WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO MATH EVERY DAY. They hid their math books. Constantly! They thought it was hilarious. They started crying over simple equations. Where once they saw a challenge, this year they saw bigger problems as impossibilities. It was maddening!
Is this something they read about? That because most kids in books don't seem to like math in school, they are SUPPOSED to hate math? I don't get it. It makes me kind of sad. Math is not wicked. Math is ok. Math doesn't have cooties. Their math workbooks are not going to come alive and gobble them up while they sleep. …...Right?
We'll begin again next year and hopefully after a good long vacation and with fresh new books, they will have a renewed enthusiasm for schooling. But for now.... PARTAY!! Any time is sprinkler time! Let's collect worms! Let's go for a bike ride! Let's bake cookies! Let's try to do this really dangerous thing before Mama sees us and tells us to stop!
I'm so glad it's summer. I don't even have the words to describe how happy I am that it's summer. The warmth and sunshine and long days... The only downside to summer is that I don't feel like cooking and that the laundry tends to multiply more quickly with muddy, wet clothes. (I know, I know... don't be a prudey! Embrace the nudey! But no longer are we surrounded by corn fields, frown.) I just can't get enough of the green leaves and colorful blossoms that have finally arrived.
I've gone a little coo-coo for plants this year.
We're going to have to get professional financial help because of the deep pit of debt I'm digging for ourselves because of my plant addiction. Today at the Farmers Market one of my favorite farms was selling violas as food. “Edible decor” they were labeled. How could I pass it up? A cute little pot of multicolored blossoms that are sneakily labeled “edible,” which means I can sneakily write them into our food budget? Fill up my market basket, Lady Farmer! But, since I have Greta, who actually started rambling on and on about how I have too many plants and that I just keep buying more... (I believe her exact quote was, “Mama! You have a plant JUST LIKE THAT at home!” And my exact quote back to her was “Ssshhhhhhhhh, I'll buy you chocolate. Don't say another word.”) It is true that I might be out of room on all my sun-catching windowsills. But I don't care. I love my plants.
I'm excited for the months of freedom ahead. Yesterday I put a tablecloth on the patio table and I've been working really hard on making the yard a Beautiful Bohemian Oasis, and I'm telling you, I may not go inside again until September. Except for tornadoes.
Happy Summering to you!