Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Break and Holiday Schedules

Final exams were completed and the end of our first official year of school meant the beginning of our first official summer holidays. I had been so caught up with exams, portfolio and outdoor projects that this realization didn't hit me until Max's father asked him what he would be doing all summer. There I stood, looking at my firstborn with the exact same thought I had the day I brought him home from the hospital, "Okay, Lord, now what do I do?"

I consulted those with more homeschooling experience than myself. My sister suggested balancing play with chores and community service. My friend Jeanne shared with me that holidays are kept holidays in their home. When I expressed my concern over Max forgetting all his math, they both told me the next year's lessons start with a review.

It was also a hot topic on the forums I visited: there were modified schedules, year-round-schooling schedules and completely thrown-out schedules. Steven and Teri Maxwell offer sound advice in Managers of Their Homes that no matter which way I went in summer scheduling, to "make it a prayed-about, thought-about, and discussed-with-your husband decision!"

Thus, I went to the Source and gave our summer over to Him. Next I went to the source of our home school methods, Charlotte Mason. It seems holidays was also a "hot topic" at the turn of the last century as The Parents' Review, that monthly magazine of home-training and culture edited by Charlotte Mason herself, has more than a handful of thoughtfully written articles on the subject.*

Though the style of each article is quite unique, they all carry the same underlying thoughts regarding summer-break or holidays: they are precious and should be both profitable and pleasurable, holidays and formal education each serve to make the other more enjoyable, and parents are not meant to amuse and entertain the children. This is all accomplished by providing children with a multiplicity of interests, those suitable ideas that give a child freedom while helping them think and act profitably.

And what about Max forgetting all he learned in math? J.S. Mills tells us in his Parents' Review article entitled "Holiday Tasks" that he is "not at all afraid of retrogression during the holidays," asserting that the qualities of a child's mind are thus that a break of eight weeks are "sufficient for him to forget only very superficially the lessons of a term" and much prefers them to use the holidays to develop their senses, observation and experience of life. The Parents' Review, Volume 4, 1893/94, pg. 510*

In my next post I'll address more fully what is meant by multiplicity of interests.

*The Parents' Review articles can be accessed via Ambleside Online.


Jeanne said...

Richele, my friend,

You are the most profound and thoughtful mum I have ever met (or not met, as the case may be!)

I love learning from you.

Have a great summer - what ever you do - and in whatever multiplicity!

Nick Manson said...

Remember, we are all products of our own upbringing. Did having our summers off mean we forgot all we had learned? All work and no play...

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Summers just take on a new flavor in our home. We still have a rhythm to our day and plan for certain activities. When the children were younger, summers were totally free to play and pursue their own interests. Now that they are older and want to accomplish different things, I sometimes find the need to schedule some academics. Still lots of room for fun, play, goofing around, and catching up on being bored. :)

Great entry,
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Annie Kate said...

We do a few lessons to keep up hard-earned phonics and foreign language skills, and we have a few life-style requirements carefully calculated to get us outside. Other than that, we follow our interests, documenting as we go. Although the documenting is just for fun, it's amazing to see how much we've already done and learned this summer!

Annie Kate