One of the things I’ve told my kids is that you don’t go to school therefore you don’t get school holidays. It didn’t go down very well I must say!! But we have found that if I plan to do school work through the state government instituted school holidays it never happens. A few reasons:
1. It is a good time to catch up with friends who are taking school holidays – we find ourselves out of the home a lot
2. We really are ready for a study break
In fact we often take an extra week because we get so busy and tired during the holidays we need an extra break to recover!
So it is end of first term school holiday break at the moment. (For international readers Australia has 4 school terms, generally with 2 week breaks inbetween except for the end of the year Christmas break which is about 6-8 weeks)
One of the things that I enjoy doing is taking a step back and seeing what learning is going on in an unplanned environment. Some people take this as proof of making an unplanned learning environment their normal – I on the other hand prefer a balance between unplanned and planned. But it is a good practice to notice learning outcomes during non-planned times because it gives you the strength of conviction that learning still happens even in busy times when you don’t get to your planned lessons. It also gives your children a rounding out – we can’t plan every learning opportunity they need – life will add a richness to your planned lessons.
This week so far I’ve noticed the following learning going on:
Though Josh and Jess are both finished with homeschooling they haven’t finished with learning and growing. They both want their parents to continue to help, guide and shape them as they move into adulthood. So when I see the learning going on in our home, it includes them. Afterall learning doesn’t stop at the end of year 12!
Joshua: Has had a few uni assignments due so he has been very focused on those. We have had conversations about his superannuation, how to encourage conversations not arguments, and the administration skills he needs for his own papers, statements and correspondence. One of our palm trees has died and fallen over so he brainstormed with Daniel how to best sort that out. He has helped Daniel sort through an online purchase he wanted to make – he walked Daniel through the whole process. He has actually played a few war-games with Daniel this week too (not sure if that is educational, but it is certainly precious relationally!) Joshua works one day a week with yard maintenance for a local company – he’ll do this today.
Jessica: She has helped me declutter my office/craft space (still a long way to go though we made a big imprint), she has worked on typesetting a magazine, began a sewing project, finalised minutes for a committee where she has the role of secretary, she has helped her brother with some computer needs. She also organised 2 large boxes of stuff we needed to give back to other people and helped me on a delivery run. We had a big conversation about improving her writing and another about trusting God as she ‘grows up’. Today she helps me clean a friend’s house.
Naomi: Nomi is on a youth camp for most of this week. I am sure she’ll learn lots relationally and skills wise – and hopefully spiritually as well. Before she left she was completely responsible for packing her own bag and supplies and worked at leaving her bedroom nice for her sister (they share a room).
Daniel: Daniel has spent a couple of hours a day writing a story. He has done a little math and we have talked a little about verbs and adjectives. I actually find Daniel keeps his focus better if we maintain one hour of focus time a day (if we are home). He usually works on his independent subjects like math and writing at this time. He has spent time with his lego – making creations from scratch (which is something he has struggled to do as he prefers to keep kits as complete kits.) He has found an online Lego Club so spent some time understanding the requirements for membership, and then uploading a photo of one of the things he has made. This gave him lots of technology and language arts practice. He also works at yard maintenance, but for his parents! So one afternoon a week he spends mowing and doing anything else around the house. Daniel has been very diligent in working through his to-do list for each day – regardless of what is on his list this is a life skill of being responsible for your time.
The pace of our days certainly changes when we are on a study break. I am reminded of a question that I asked myself, Peter and even the kids many many years ago: if we weren’t homeschooling, how would we spend our days? The answers were (and would be the same today). We would –
• Read books
• Make things
• Learn about God
• Play together
• Do things with other people
• And the list went on….
These things are the basis for learning – whether they are planned lesson times, or unplanned like school holidays and busy seasons of life. When our children are actively involved in any one of those activities they will be learning.
Do you step back and see the learning going on in your family?