As it happens each year, summer arrives with what I would call mixed emotions. There, of course, is the obvious elation due to the fact that our homeschool year has come to an end and with it the daily narrations, dictation exercises, grammar lessons, math drills and science blocks have also come to a gentle close.
The arrival of this stretch of non-formal academic days comes as a thrill to both teacher and children alike, there is no doubt. Although at the same time there is a sadness, perhaps even a disappointment, that the grand summer we were all so eagerly awaiting isn't as spectacularly spellbinding as we had expected it to be. It's as if with one uniform sigh I can hear my children questioning, "Is this it? Is this summer"? And it is with an equally keen ear that I can also 'hear' their inner voices (yes, I can read my children's minds from time to time) ever-so-begrudgingly begging for more.
It is with a bit of shame that I confess that my children have been half-captured by that worldly frame of mind that convince us humans to expect big things.. exciting things... sweet things on their summer vacations (where did the idea and practice of a summer holiday come from anyhow??). Because after all, it is summer vacation (did I mention that yet!?) and we all know that must mean a steady stream of fun-in-the-sun-ice-cream-everyday-spectacular-wet-and-wild-play-non-stop-pleasure (at least during waking hours) and perhaps even a scandalously late bedtime.
So I'm left with several questions. What is it that my children are in need of this summer to give them a sense of purpose and a bit of recreational enjoyment? (I am shying away from words like fun and pleasure and entertainment here). And also, how can I as their mother-teacher help to retrain their way of thinking and direction of their will in this area of pursuing (mostly) pleasurable things and being sorely disappointed when more is asked of them?
These are indeed big questions!
And because I'm older, more realistic, quite contented to be at home doing beautifully mundane things (on most days), stubbornly resilient to being taken in by the world's messages of what ones' life ought to look life on this day or that day and also because I am maybe (only a tiny bit) wiser than they, I have also found my way to some small answers to these big questions.
I hope to share some of these thoughts this week here on my blog. In fact, I am eager to share what I have only begun to glimpse (and by only, I mean really over the last two or three years). The answers are simple but not always easy. They are inspiring but difficult to implement. And the solutions that our family values could be more likened to giving children their daily spoonful of cod liver oil and less likened to doling out a couple of sugar-laden, fruit-flavored, cartoon-shaped vitamins. The result is often hard to swallow but oh-so much more life giving.
But for now, a few photos from our superbly simple, perfectly sweltering, out-of-doors day from yesterday will be my joy to share.