It’s that time of year again. Summer break is here.
As of now, if you’re a public school parent, you are looking forward to spending more time with your children, finishing up the last of the work for the school year and packing for or planning getaways.
That won’t be the case in another two to three weeks.
First you will groan about how the kids want to play on their electronic devices all day. Then there will be attempts to get around that. Then there will be some complaining on social media that the kids are bored. Then, that you are tired. Finally, there will be an all out countdown to the beginning of the school year.
And based on this, there will that inevitable question voiced thus:
“How in the world do you homeschool and have your kids at home ALL DAY EVERY DAY? I was ready for them to go back to school in less than a month! I could NEVER homeschool my kids!”
But, but, wait… hold your horses! Homeschooling is nothing – nothing at all – like summer break.
Let me explain why you shouldn’t judge your ability to homeschool based on your summer break or the way your child behaves during this time.
Summer Break is not Representative
Here’s the thing to remember most: summer break is artificial. It is an interruption. Whether it began as a time for people to be able to work on their farms or as a reason for people to leave town is immaterial to today’s world. Today, it is mainly a pause, a time to relax, have some downtime, recover and get ready to get back to school.
Many homeschoolers do not take summers off. They take breaks around their schedule, when they take vacations, when they get sick, or when they need to. But we do not have a designated twelve weeks off because, frankly, that’s too long.
Twelve weeks are too long to learn nothing, do nothing and think you’re going to be sane. I don’t care how hard you’ve worked or how much you think you need a vacation – human beings are simply not made to be idle for so long.
So instead of summer breaks, homeschoolers tend to incorporate learning year round. As a result our learning is much more relaxed throughout. There is no need to rush and get it all done in nine months when there are twelve in the calendar year.
Too Much, Too Much
There is far too much going on in the summers. Think about it. You have a vacation planned, there are probably cousins coming from somewhere. There are weddings planned and camping trips and swimming lessons and dance classes and oh-goodness-knows-what-else.
With a packed calendar, there is hardly any time to relax! Add to that the fact that everyone is clearly expected to be having fun, fun, fun all the time. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
Homeschoolers often insist that children be bored sometimes. Entertainment need not be offered; it can be created. But organic play of the sort I’m talking about does not come about by packing calendars full. It comes from being left alone. This sort of “boredom” is inevitable when homeschooling is done right.
Yes, Our Kids Annoy Us Too
Children are annoying. Yes, they’re difficult. They can make you want to tear your hair out even when you love them and would lay down your life for them. Homeschoolers are not saints, in the common use of the term.
We get tired, too. We get angry. But here’s the thing: we recognize that the solution is not packing them off to a place where there is no autonomy for them and no authority for us.
Instead, homeschooling allows us to find ways to remain parents and find ways to give our children the tools to become adults at their pace in an environment that supports both without being overwhelming. We consider our flaws, our strengths, their flaws and strengths and work together.
Are there hiccups? Sure. Do we fail? Of course.
But without an entire bloated administrative system watching our every move, confusing matters with unnecessary studies and tests and failed ideologies, our failures are small and quick and can be worked through swiftly.
Homeschooling, in other words, is the complete antithesis of summer break.
So if you’re considering homeschooling this coming year, don’t just “try it out” this summer break and keep all other things equal. Truly consider forging your own path. Do your research – here’s an entire summer’s worth of reading for you, spend time deschooling yourself and your children, talk to other homeschoolers, browse this blog.
And above all, remember that summer break tells you absolutely nothing about what homeschooling is really like.