Tuesday, June 2, 2015

To Summer School or Not To Summer School

 "We do school year-round."

It sounds so chic and cutting edge in September.

It is eminently reasonable in December.  This is the reason why I can in good conscience take the whole month off for Christmas preparations.

Survival during the flu season in February demands it.

Come March, I start calculating.  You take the remainder of official lessons planned, less the maximum number of "field trip" days that you think you can get away with.  Divide this number by the balance of days between now and June 1st.  Divide this number again by five.  Scratch your head, that can't be right!  Begin over, removing the book reports and craft projects and  most especially the end of year skit, complete with costumes.  If you complete 3.14 lesson plans per day you will wind up with pi . . . I mean you possibly will be finished by mid July.

I have agonized over whether we should take a summer break or keep soldiering on.  At first it seemed pretty simple.  Just do school every day and we will be finished in plenty of time. 
That quickly degraded into;
 Just do 1.5 lessons every day and if we happen to miss a day here and there we will not fall behind.

 It's a beautiful theory, unfortunately based on a false premise.  The mythical 5 day school week. 

What a cruel joke!  Five solid days a week, thirty six weeks to the scholastic year.  It's not realistic.  I don't think it's attainable.  So, you would think that I'd just stick to my self-righteous guns and do school year round as trumpeted in September.

Except. I. Can't.

I just can't.

It's not even Biblical.

I'm serious!  (Kind of)

God created seasons.  He promised to keep those seasons spinning in order; Summer and Winter, Springtime and Harvest shall not fail.  Genesis 8:22

There is a time and a season to every purpose under the heaven, and He has made everything beautiful in His time! Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time to be disciplined and organized.

There is a time to rest and recover.

I need to rest and recover.

At the same time, I dislike leaving something unfinished.  I can't stand the thought of facing September with First and Third grade uncompleted.  I would feel like a failure whose kids are being lapped by their peers and who will ultimately fail in the job force and at life in general.

Even though I know that is not at all true or even likely, I would still feel it. 

I know I'm not the only one with this dilemma.   I have been praying for a solution.  It kind of hit me last week.

Of course, we took Memorial Day off.  Tuesday morning I got out of bed, not sure what to do with the day.  I opened my mouth and words came out.  It's almost like a robot was speaking for me, "Good morning, children.  Today is your first day of Summer Break."  And so it was!  However, during the course of the week we also knocked out about ten days of lesson plans.

Here's the key: It's all in your head.

 When I woke up this morning, I took a few minutes to relish the feel of my pillow.  I luxuriated in the privilege of just being in bed.  I praised God for the blessing of sleep and the blessing that it was summer break and I could just enjoy the sense of being at rest. 

It was 6:45 a.m.  I was by no means actually sleeping in.  But by changing the way I started the morning, I felt happy and relaxed.  After a lovely cup of coffee and unhurried personal devotions, I rousted Cy out of bed to do a workout with me.  This is part of his P.E. requirements, but because this is summer break, it suddenly became warmups for all the fun we hope to have today.

9:45 found me in the kitchen making breakfast.  This is about the time that I finally get around to doing it pretty much every day.  During the school year I experience considerable angst and embarrassment that we get such a late start.  BUT because this is "Summer Break" 9:45 has magically become a perfectly acceptable time for a leisurely breakfast.

After breakfast we all head  out to the porch swing for family devotions.  We do as much outdoors as possible on our "Break".  After reading a chapter from Acts, I open our current read-aloud On The Shores Of Silver Lake.  Since it is, after all, our Break, I graciously agree to read two chapters instead of just one.  After that, I have to settle who gets the privilege of playing math games on the computer.
Because it is Summer Break, Dee is allowed to play 3 days worth of math and spelling games.  Oh the joy!

While I hang out laundry on the line (my personal break and therapy time) the rest of the kids are prospecting for "obsidian" in the gravel of the driveway.  Alvin informs me that this is a historic Obsidian Rush.  He doesn't realize that I had looked ahead for the next 20 days of science and history lessons and ordered library videos covering those subjects.  In the past two weeks we have covered The Oregon Trail, Pony Express, Gold Rush, Sharks, Whales and Autism. 

"Because it's Summer, let's just spend the afternoon watching these Discovery videos on whales.  Then, when daddy comes home tonight, we'll make it a special movie night and watch Moby Dick!"

We are not going to bother with making lapbooks or filling out reports.  We might not get math fact practice in every day.  There may be entire days of lesson plans that I just write off. 
As in skip. 
Hasta la vista, baby. 
Some days will be spent running like a chicken with it's head chopped off and other days I may not even get dressed.  It's okay.  I need this season to just be okay with whatever happens and to be okay with whatever does not happen.

Are they learning enough?

You betcha!  I hear it in their excited chatter as they pan for gold in our sand pit and lovingly clean off black pebbles dug out of the driveway.  I see it when they choose aquatic animals to role play and conduct research so as to be as accurate as possible.

 "I'm a lamprey, because they can suck all the blood out of sharks!"
 "Oh yeah, well I'm a puffer fish and if you bite me, lamprey, than I will poison you with my venom sac!"
"Do lampreys and puffer fish even live in the same waters?"
"I don't know, let's find out!"
"Mom, can we borrow your phone?!"

And so it goes,  We are still on Day 130 out of 180.  We still have 50 lessons to wade through.  Even if we manage to blaze through 10 lessons a week (highly unlikely!), that's 5 weeks left and that still puts us finishing by mid-July.  That doesn't even matter to me anymore.  The next 3 months are going to be about enjoying this season and all that comes with it. 

Camp outs.
Vacation Bible School.
Church Camp.
Weeding the garden.
Movies in the middle of the day.
Character training.
Focus on good habits.

It's June 2nd and we are on Summer Break, y'all!