While some homeschool families like to have a “first day of school” experience where they jump into the full schedule of their school year, and others use online curriculum which does not give them flexibility for when to start or how to pace their classes, I liked to “ease in” to our homeschool year. As an eclectic homeschooler, I chose my curriculum from a variety of sources and was in control of my family’s schedule, except for any outside classes we chose to add for the year.
We always took a 3 month summer break to accommodate travel to visit grandparents and relatives out of state, summer camps, and teenagers’ summer jobs. We put aside the “school curriculum” during that time and focused on other kinds of learning. My philosophy of education is that learning happens everywhere, all the time and is ongoing throughout life. Even during “breaks” and vacations we would go on field trips to museums, state and national parks, historic sites, etc. We were always reading. My children helped with household chores, which is also learning important life skills! They spent lots of time with friends and cousins and interacting with each other, learning social skills like patience and conflict resolution and I usually made a calendar of activities for the summer that included swimming, campouts, ball games, outings to the movie theater and ice skating rink ( to escape the Carolina heat & humidity), arts & crafts, and various other fun projects and activities gleaned from my old faithful “Family Fun” magazines and later, Pinterest.
Sometime between the first week of August and the first week of September we would start easing into our new school year. We started with one or two subjects for a week, and then added a little more the next, and a little more the next, until we were fully loaded! That often meant we finished some subjects earlier than others at the end of the year, which just gave us more time to go outside and enjoy the springtime weather during that last month. Light at the beginning and light at the end.
I wrote the following a few years ago, when my youngest was still in high school.
I read an article this morning, calling for a “soft start” to the homeschool year. I have done this for years, as have a number of other homeschool families I know. We call it “easing in”. The idea is that instead of having a “first day of school” where you jump into all your subjects, we start slowly, with just one or two subjects a week, until we are at full schedule. It helps both student and teacher to get adjusted to new subjects, new schedules, new routines, without feeling overwhelmed.
I only have one high schooler left at home, so for my 10th/11th grader (5 year plan), it looks like this. Two weeks ago he started Algebra 2, which involves meeting 2 mornings a week with a teacher for a small group tutorial, and also his weekly basketball training session. That’s all the “school” he did for 2 weeks. This week we add Chemistry and Spanish, for which he attends class one morning a week and works independently the rest of the week. We also started watching some history videos. Two weeks from now, we will add English (literature/writing/vocab), which I will be teaching 2 days a week here at our house, with 6 other students. We’ll also start back with guitar that week. We’ll be working on a nutrition elective a little at a time as well, and I have a list of books for us to work through – biographies, Christian worldview, character, etc – so I’ll probably start that next week, with me having one read-aloud going ( yes, for a 16-year-old!!) and him having another that he is working on. I’m also determined to get him in the kitchen and teach that boy to cook this year. Being the baby of the family, he is much too accustomed to Mom taking care of him, and seems to know to how to get me to do it without me even realizing…. voodoo, I tell you.