(Sort-Of) Back-to-School

It’s (sort-of) Back to School Time! What does that mean? you ask. Well, it’s fall, so its full on Back-to-School sales (yay!). It’s back to fall sports (really? Soccer already?!!) It’s time to really be sure I have planned all our fall schoolwork. I’m mostly ready, but have a few things to finish and to account for what schoolwork we’ve done over the summer.

Wait a minute! Summer school? you ask. Yep! We had a super busy April-May and none of us felt like doing school any more. The kids had really mostly finished their math and spelling books, reading and writing were coming along and… well, everything else is in elementary school is just gravy, really, isn’t it?

Sky SwimSo I decided to try a summer school experiment this year, (with the kids’ fully on board). A bit of school here & there, (mostly in June & July). In between quite a few field trips and summer camps. Oh, and don’t forget our daily swim team practices.

Mainly we focused on beginning our history reading, keeping up with Devin’s Hooked on Phonics, working on fun math & some games.  It was light & mostly fluffy as we spent the month doing our unit on China. But, as usual for us, it dragged on beyond it’s scheduled 5-6 weeks, and we are still plodding along with one last reader, a few stories and folk tales, and half a read-aloud to go. Deadlines are hard to manage and stick to at God’s Path School, summer, fall OR winter!

I went with the summer school thing for a couple reasons. First, I just wanted to try it. To see if we could manage a year-round school experience. I found that the kids didn’t seem to mind too bad, as long as I didn’t ask too much of them. My goals were to at least do the first 6 weeks of history, so that during our regular school year we would be a bit less pressured to ‘fit it all in!’ (I’m sure none of you ever feel that pressure!)

(I call it the ‘Git-er-done’ need. The check-the-box need. The must-complete-the-book compulsion. I’m trying to break myself of this feeling, but it is so HARD! I like that box checked, that list ticked off and getting smaller. It makes me feel so HAPPY and so accomplished! )

I digress. The kids didn’t really seem to mind school this summer, but man, this MOM did! I hated having to keep reminding them to do school work before play. To have to sit with them and work while I would much rather have been getting my I’ll-do-it-in-the-summer list accomplished. (Yep! there’s another list again!) I would have much rather been sitting at the pool relaxing while they played, than trying to motivate the kids to read, spell or do math.

It became the school year that never ended. NOT a good thing in my mind, and I’m not sure it was not healthy for Skylar and her distractible tendancy as well. She really struggled with choosing to do school, rather than wiling the days away with her dolls and legos. & I struggled with forcing them to work because it was distracting for me as well! (She doesn’t get the distractibility from a stranger, folks!).

The current state of our schoolroom. Of course the kids wanted to re-arrange again this year, and I'm still trying to finalize choices for curriculum, reorganize and clean!

The state of our schoolroom. Of course the kids wanted to re-arrange again this year, and I’m still trying to finalize choices for curriculum, clean and reorganize!

The main problem for me in trying to school this summer, is that in my changing over from last year’s curriculum, to this year’s stuff, my schoolroom and half my house became a DISASTER. Book piles everywhere, trying to get sorted and organized, to be put in the garage so I know what I have and where to find it for the next time around. Deciding what to sell knowing I won’t use it again, and sorting through all the awesome deals I found at the end of year curriculum sales, that won’t be used for a year or two.

Sorting books in the foyer... at least they are not in the school room, but not where they need to be either!

Sorting books in the foyer… at least they are not in the school room, but not where they need to be either!

My schoolroom is still a mess, but gaining. My foyer is still a book repository, my garage is insane. But we got some of a headstart on history. (hear the load of sarcasm there). I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth it, but by next spring I may feel differently.

Koala at the zoo

Snoozing Koala at the zoo

But, summer school does have it’s advantages. I like the unstructured learning fun of trips and camps, the learning while doing, the family togetherness. We’ve had a lot of fun adventures even if my to-do list hasn’t gotten shorter. And really, what is life as a parent if you aren’t having adventures, enjoying time with your kids, and being silly?! Learning takes place all over, and though I know our school is not meant to be in the unschooling style all year, I do enjoy the unstructured learning we get in summer.

Holding up the Balancing Rock

Holding up the Balancing Rock

Along with a few books, God’s Path Summer School also consisted of Nature Camp, AHG Camp & Bible Camp, VBS, Trips to the Zoo and Science Centers, Hiking and Camping, and Swim Team. I think we had our fill of extracurriculars!

A few Swim Team Ribbons

A few Swim Team Ribbons

Now we’re taking a break, a mini-vacation of sorts, before the reality of our fall schedule kicks back in, in early September. I realize that keeping a set, more regimented schedule each day works better for my kids. They know what to expect, what comes next, can sit and work in a better mode if we are not trying to “squeeze in” some school. Distractions aside, school works better for us.

Muddy Day at Nature Camp

Muddy Day at Nature Camp

Summer school experiment: I rate it a 5 for getting ahead, a 10 for fun extra stuff. Not sure I like it, not sure I hate it. What do you think? Have you tried Summer School? How does it work for your family?

Shira

Creating Critters at Camp Wannacombac

Creating Critters at Camp Wannacombac

Singing at VBS

Singing at VBS

Trip to the Strawberry Farm

Trip to the Strawberry Farm

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