Summer Anxiety

Oh, how I love summer.  Well, I used to love summer.  I enjoy(ed) coasting through the days without a schedule, sleeping in(lol-well, at least sleeping past 6:30), and going where-ever the day takes me.  Unfortunately for a person with anxiety, the lack of a schedule and an irregular plan is far from enjoyable.

Every summer, I remember the importance of rhythm.  My children thrive on a rhythm.  They need it.  Without a rhythm, they are lost.  I, on the other hand, like to live life without a plan and as the day takes me.  Do you see the problem here?  The two ways do not mesh AT ALL and the result is stress, frustration, melt downs and all over unhappiness.  You would think that by now, I would have figured this out.  However, I haven’t.  Every summer we experience the above-stress, frustration, melt downs and overall unhappiness-mainly with only one child but the frustration takes over the entire family.

So we head back to the schedule and the rhythm.  I am still trying to figure out how to set a schedule and a rhythm for the summer but I will figure one out soon.  You would think that since we are together all the time during the school year that the summer would go smoothly.  Unfortunately, everyone’s schedule changes.  There are no classes in the summer-only camps.  Horseback riding is sporadic due to camps and vacations.  The gym schedule changes.  And there are kids to play with who are not around during the school year to play with.  Sounds like fun to me, but the changes bring increased anxiety and stress to my youngest.  He tries so hard to take control of his day but he needs a plan and a back up plan.  Until he can do this for himself, I must help with the plan by providing a rhythm.

Are you able to relax during the summer or are do you need to keep a rhythm?

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Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

Maria Montessori

I am back from a short break of blogging.  Over the past few weeks, I looked over some of my most popular and most searched posts.  My first post on the above quote is a popular search.  However, the post I wrote with it does not go into much detail about the quote.  I thought it fitting that I would use the quote again as I wrote about some of our summer.

The past few weeks have been filled with blogs and articles about the importance of play and giving kids the opportunity to play freely in their environment.  Well, this is what we have done-not because an article or a blog or research told us to but because it is fun, and it is what we do anyway.

My husband and I set up the environments (not really, but we chose the environments we live in and play in are our choices so I will say that we set them up).  Our backyard is wooded with a sandbox, a zip line, a swing set with slings, a small play house that is now storage for the kids’ inventions, lots of woods, a mountain bike trail nearby, gardens, tools, and supplies.  Inside, the children have art supplies, legos, blankets galore, and food.  They bring their amazing imaginations into our environments and fascinating things start happening.

We schooled for the 9 months prior to our summer vacation.  Since I am their teacher, I know what was taught.  I get to watch as the lessons that we went through during the school year come together in their play.  They used their environments to develop tipis, lean-to’s, and other forms of shelter- learning what will keep out the rain and the wind and what won’t.  They developed tunnels, roads and lakes in the sandbox to allow the explorers to search out their new world.  Worlds and stories were made in the playroom with legos.  My kids do not like to make what is on the box of the legos.  They want to design their own creations.  Their worlds contains boats, fire trucks with the appropriate apparatus, bucket trucks, ticket booths, farms, marinas, police stations, junk yards, stores and more.  They make the worlds come to life.  They name their people based off of the characters in the books they have read or the myths that they have studied.

The creativity is amazing here everyday.  They cook.  They draw.  They invent.  They play in their environment utilizing every piece of it.  So what does this have to do with education?  Everything.  During their play, they are experimenting and working through the scientific method without even knowing it.  They are increasing their vocabulary by using the words that they have learned throughout the year in context of their play.  They play for hours in these environments which will help with increasing their attention span and working memory when we do go back to lessons.  Cooking (which they love, because the love to eat and with all of our crazy food choices-we have to cook everything from scratch) gets them reading, doing math, and sequencing.  (For us, it also teaches patience-why do the brownies take so long to cook?).  They observe as the bees go from flower to flower and know that that bee is essential for our garden.

People ask me if we school during the summer.  Of course, my answer is, “no.”  However, the reality is that yes. there is school going on here-just not formal schooling.  They are not listening to me give a lesson or watching a television or playing a video game.  They are manipulating and exploring their environments, inventing new gadgets for matchbox cars and legos, and educating themselves in a way that I can not.

A Week in Review in Pictures

After two weeks away, I realized how much we do during a week.  After celebrating Father’s Day with my Dad and my hubby, life as usual started on Monday with swim meets and gymnastics.  We did manage to get some fun summer activities in between all of the craziness.

SUMMER!!

We are done with “school” for the year which means that it is officially SUMMER in our book!  This is one of the benefits of homeschooling!  We control our schedule.  We are in NC and the law here states that we must have “school” for 9 of the 12 calendar months.  We do not have a day count or anything, but I have kept count.  We completed 179 days of school (this excludes all holidays that we took off and other random days here and there that we took off).

Of course, the last day of school was on our calendar.  However, there are still several days marked on the calendar with classes.  The kids were not to keen on this but they are getting over it fast!  Sims is still finishing up his Aquatic Ecology class and Parks is finishing up his Soil classes.  Then they all have one more class on bioluminescence and one more hike.

So here is the rundown of the year!

Sims finished fourth grade!  He learned NC history and geography, grammar, the Norse Myths, Zoology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Ecology, Geocaching, Biology, Fractions, Decimals and Percents.  He made HUGE gains in his independent reading comprehension which was one of our goals for this year!  He also found that he actually does enjoy reading for pleasure.

Sawyer completed second grade!  She learned about several Saints, folktales and fairy tales, multiplication, Biology, Geography, grammar, Jakata tales and Anansi tales.  She also wrote several stories and poems throughout the year.  She is my writer and she learned a lot more about the technicalities that go into writing this year.

Parks is headed into the big leagues next year!  He finished kindergarten!  Parks worked on fairytales, folk tales, adding, subtracting, telling time, cursive and reading.  This was his first year out of “school.”  He did a good bit of deschooling this year and finding where he fits into the mix.

As a family, we celebrated Labor Day, Halloween, Diwali, Michaelmas, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Valentine’s Day. and Easter.  We read several books together including: To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlotte’s Web, Because of Winn Dixie, The Whipping Boy, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Bridge to Tarabithia, Three Cups of Tea, The Magician’s Nephew, Pippi Longstocking, Dolphins at Daybreak, Robinhood, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Twenty-One Balloons, Paddle to the Sea, Frindle, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Cheaper by the Dozen.

Now to finish up the school yearbook and to experience some new adventures!

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