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Summer school

There is no real consensus amongst homeschoolers regarding the issue of summer schooling. I know several families in our co-op take a break right along with conventional schoolers, or spend the summer months catching up on reading or revisiting topics they found difficult during the school year. Since Calvin has only just turned six we don't have a set yearly schedule as yet, but we've never considered taking the summers off. I believe I've written about this decision before, mentioning that we see no more reason to take a break from "schooling", or learning rather, than from life itself. But while we still hold to this philosophy, we have made some changes in our daily schedule, and the issue of summer schooling warranted a second glance.

Until very recently we've been dedicated unschoolers, traipsing from one curiosity to another as the day wore on. I found, though, that Calvin responded better to having more direction in his day, so since early May we've been leaning further and further into the classical education world. We spend a little time each day on math, reading, grammar, handwriting, and spelling, throw in history or science to go with it, and spend the rest of the day exploring whatever else we wish. Calvin now has workbooks that he loves for both math and spelling, and I've been combining the other subjects with the history and science in order to tie it all together. We also hit up the library at least once a week, taking home each time a well-rounded collection that includes books of Calvin's choice on science, history, art, poetry, biography, and music. This has been a happy change for us, especially since we aren't actually following a strict curriculum, but are, I believe, combining the best of two great homeschooling methods (those being unschooling and classical).

So how has this change affected our view on schooling in the summer? Actually it hasn't, because we still believe that learning is a way of life, but while the new methodology hasn't altered our view on summer, the summer has changed our methodology somewhat. At this time of year, with buzzing insects, calling birds, and brightly colored and odorific blooms, nature is practically standing on tiptoe and demanding extra attention, and it simply is not to be denied. It seems only natural that in the summer we spend less time on worksheets and more time in the field, less time on history, more time on science. So when we went on vacation last week we didn't take workbooks of any kind, but we did take our wildlife handbooks (and we love the Stan Tekiela series for our state), our hiking shoes, and our innate curiosity. We also took books about Michigan, and Mackinac Island, plus lots of other reading for quiet moments. And I figure something is going right when, on the beach, the boy is making a sand model of Bilbo's Shire.

And when we are worksheeting, we are often doing so from the breezy comfort of our deck while sipping lemonade.

Reading the Mahabharata in the shade


On vacation


It's a silent battle

Who will win the afternoon sunshine?


The Titanic Artifacts Exhibit, Henry Ford Museum

We went to the Henry Ford Museum today to take in the Titanic Artifacts Exhibit. It's a traveling exhibit, I assume one of many, and Calvin has been looking forward to it for weeks. It was very well done, the artifacts nicely spaced out and visitors admitted in small groups every fifteen minutes so that we never felt crowded or rushed. The had artifacts recovered from the wreck as well as photographs, quotes, videos, and even life size models of parts of the ship. Photography was not allowed in the exhibit, so we just snapped a few shots outside.

And of course while we were there we stopped by the Driving America exhibit, the Allegheny Locomotive, and had lunch in Michigan's Cafe.

As a side note, some recommendations from Calvin for books about the Titanic: Tonight on the Titanic, Mary Pope Osborne, and the Magic Tree House non-fiction companion, and Finding the Titanic, by Robert D. Ballard.

Then we came home and enjoyed a warming sunshine (although not quite warm), and played with newspaper and glue. There may be a couple of mummies in our future, assuming our experiment works.


Looking back