Spring is here, and what a relief to be able to go outdoors without thermal underwear and a thick coat. In fact, we wore our Chacos to the river this weekend for our first official nature walk of spring 2010.
The change of seasons and some comments I’ve gotten on my blog got me thinking about seasons in homeschooling. I don’t mean the seasons that we naturally pass through when our children move from preschool into early elementary or from elementary into more independent learning. I mean those seasons from week to week and month to month when our focus shifts slightly.
Take, for example, my rock post where someone asked me, “Do you do science every day?” I can see how reading that long post may lead you to believe that we do a dozen science activities each day. You may think, “How can she do all that science and do math and language arts and art and so on….?” The answer is that we don’t, at least not daily.
You can’t do everything everyday. **
Instead, we tend to study in seasons — a season of intensive math history, a few weeks of in-depth science study, a time of extended poetry reading. If you look at one day in our homeschool, you may get worried because of all the things we’ve left out. Even looking at one week may not give a balanced picture. Instead, you would have to look at a few months, or even an entire year, before you would see a balanced picture emerging from our homeschool.
**Actually, when your children are very small, and you do very short lessons, then you can do a smidgen of everything everyday. At that age, doing long lessons will be counter-productive. I remember clearly when Sprite “told” me she was ready for longer lessons. She was getting very frustrated by my constantly closing books and moving on when she had just started to become engrossed. I was trying to obey the Charlotte Mason recommendation for short lessons. But her maturing attention span was ready for longer lessons.
Take nature study as another example. I know you can do nature study in the city and also in the miserable days of winter. But I admit that we just aren’t as motivated unless we have a truly wild place to go and the weather is bearable. So instead of feeling guilt about it, I’ve come to accept that we probably will not have consistent nature walks every week. But we are good at having a nature weekend every few months. And so it all balances out in the long run.
So if you’re feeling like you “can’t fit it all in each day,” stop trying. Look at your homeschool planning from a broader perspective and consider the seasons concept. It works really well for children (and moms!) who have robust attention spans and like to dig deeply before moving to another topic.