Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Vacation...with a Charlotte Mason Flair!

Year round homeschooling.

What image does that phrase invoke for you?   Perhaps a negative one...a not so glorious summer spent with your children sitting at the kitchen table reluctantly toiling over workbooks and textbooks for several hours a days while all their friends and the neighbor kids play outdoors, go biking and swimming and just hang out.

No thanks, you say.  Not interested in that at all whatsoever.

Sure, it would be nice to have a little extra flexibility throughout the traditional school year.  Start a little later and enjoy the rest of the summer season.  Take a little bit more time off around the holidays. Longer breaks just because.  More freedom. More flexibility. More time to breathe. Time to simply be.

But then there's the reality of it all...after the busy school year, you really need to just be done.

Well, you can have your summer vacation AND homeschool year round too.  Just shift your perspective and revamp your summer vacation with a little Charlotte Mason flair!

Choose some interesting whole and living books to read aloud (at bedtime, tea time, or during lunch) or listen to an audio book on your car rides.  Pick from those beloved books and stories that you remember from your childhood that gave you the warm fuzzies or find something new to explore together. Snuggle up on the couch for a bit on a hot afternoon or sprawl outside on the grass or picnic blanket and lose yourselves for a while in another world.

Start a weekly tea time tradition with your children.  Enjoy some sweet tea or ice cold lemonade. Have a variety of yummy snacks available - perhaps even take the time beforehand to make something special together.  Then grab a good book and enjoy coming together and reconnecting while you eat, drink and read.  What better time to enjoy reading some of those living books!

Engage in Charlotte Mason's practice of narration...informally known as the "art of talking".   Listen to your children and what they have to say.  What was their favorite part in the book you're reading or the movie you just watched?  Share yours!  What exactly should you do with all those tree frog tadpoles rescued from your pool's cover?   Which is better to use to build your house in Minecraft...wood or cobblestone?  Why?Narration need not be formal to be effective.  In fact, I would argue it's far *more* effective when it flows out naturally from simply living interesting, involved lives together.  Wonder, question, ponder, discuss!

Venture out on some nature walks with friends and start a family nature study project.  Plant a butterfly garden, go frogging on a rainy night, grow some giant sunflowers, raise a few caterpillars or tadpoles, start a baby snail nursery or toad habitat.  Live with your project over the whole season.  Explore, observe, connect, discover...get messy.

And certainly don't forget all those real life, hands on experiences. Trips & travel, summer camps, fairs & festivals, museums, re-enactments.  Do something new together.  Try something out.  Go someplace different. Make your children's world just a little bit bigger.

Homeschooling year round with the Charlotte Mason method can be just as flexible as you need it to be.  It's not about a particular curriculum or "doing school".  It doesn't have to start in August and end in May and there are no required hours or subjects. Instead, the focus is on your children and on providing a wide variety of meaningful, real-life learning experiences. It's about emphasizing connections and relationships and exposing them to new and interesting people, places and ideas.  And the reality of this approach is that whether this learning takes place during the official school year or during summer vacation, every second of it counts as "school".

So go ahead! The summer season is a perfect time to implement some of Charlotte Mason's lovely ideas into your family's learning lifestyle.  Enjoy your summer vacation...with a Charlotte Mason flair. :)

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