One of the big questions everyone seems to be asking at the moment is do you break for Summer Holidays? If so when do you start and for how long?
I don’t like answering No we don’t or Yes we do because everyone I know home educates in a slightly different way, so there is no one-answer that applies to all. Every family is unique so what works for one family might not work for another and also what works one year might not work the next. For me that is the beauty of home education you can mould it to what suits your family.
Bearing all that mind – for us that means home-education is non-stop, it’s a lifestyle. So no we don’t stop for the traditional school holidays and no we don’t stick to traditional school hours or even a traditional school week. But our home education does have a seasonal rhythm to it. Over the warmer months the kids are outside a LOT which means our learning style has a very different feeling to it when compared to the winter months. We tend to make the most of the longer days and the sunny weather and enjoy all the little creatures visiting our garden. But even with the different seasonal rhythm to our days both of mine like a bit of structure so we do keep a little of it but we bend it to the summer days.
And I must also admit once the schools break for holidays I tend to steer clear of the museums and historical sites. So that also impacts the natural rhythm of our days.
When the kids were younger there were 2 years when I felt like I needed a complete break. So we took it. But at that stage I think I was also still finding what worked for us and I was not making sure I took breaks on a regular basis so I would get to a point of complete exhaustion. It also took me a while to figure out what learning styles suited my kids and for me to relax and stop worrying about what the schools were covering, so the first 2 years of home education were more mentally exhausting.
Now both the kids are brilliant at driving their own learning. They are constantly creating little projects, totally indpendently – from writing stories based on books that they have been reading, to researching facts on a new topic, creating their own factsheets – all of that never stops. The reading never stops, documentaries are still watched and the questions continue. In the summer months these projects often just end up being completed outside in the garden.
Along with the extended hours outside we also seem to do more art. For some reason the summer months always means extra art projects. I think it is because art is very much a relaxing activity for us and it just seems to slot in perfectly with the summer feeling of longer days and sunshine. We do art both outside in the garden and also we sometimes retreat into the house when it gets a bit too hot and get creative in our cooler kitchen.
Some of you may be wondering but what about the more formal side – what about Maths. Maths for us is continuous – it is working out how to change the ingredients in a recipe so instead of 10 biscuits we could get 14 biscuits, it is converting the measurements in my son’s latest insect book so they are all in cm and then seeing if he can draw the insects to scale (one of the projects he created himself), it is managing their pocket money and working out a budget for an activity. My son wants to learn his 8 times and 7 times tables over the summer so we will work on that and I know my daughter has some geometry ideas linked to art that she wants me to try and help her set up so that will also happen. And yes inbetween all of that we do slot in a few pages of maths for my daughter because it is part of her routine that she actually likes to keep going.
It really is what works for us, what works for the kids. Mine love creating their own projects, it is a great source of pride when they show us what they are working on and it means the projects are no longer seen as “school work” but they see them as fun so they are not restricted to week days, or school days only. So for mine their projects don’t stop just because the local schools are on holiday. They continue working on the projects that they find interesting all year round.