We started back to school last week.
We know lots of homeschooling families who school year round... some follow a four-day-week schedule, or a four weeks-on/one-week-off schedule, or any of a number of variations.
Not our family. We are summer-off variety homeschoolers.
Near the beginning of our homeschooling journey we tried schooling through the summer. Once was enough. We all agreed that we do better when we take a long break.
We are ready for the change and feel of summer days by the time they roll around. I am usually, I must confess, a bit burned out by the end of May. Knowing that we will have ten weeks to go to all the annual appointments and have playdates and go on adventures and maybe even get the bookshelves organized (some day, some day) gives me a burst of energy.
It usually takes me at least a month to feel like I am ready to start thinking about the next school year. This summer we spent our first two weeks of summer break absorbed in dress rehearsals and local shows, then a five day youth theater festival that included sleeping in a hotel (with a pool!). After that the sixteen doctor and dentist appointments began, and before we knew it, we were off on a three and a half week week adventure in New Mexico and Arizona.
So this year it was really two months before I felt ready. And when I say ready, I mean I-can't-wait-to-start, listen-to-what-we-are-going-to-do, oh-look-at-these-wonderful-books ready. I get a wee bit excited.
Because honestly, it is so much fun to start a new school year! When the older children were little, we'd buy new school supplies and such, but at this point we really don't need much other than books and maybe some new notebooks. The kids can't wait to open the boxes as they arrive, and sometimes "school" begins weeks ahead because people just can't put their books down.
I'm thankful that my enthusiasm finally kicked in full gear, because this year we started two new and fairly teacher-intensive curricula. We are using the Structure and Style program from Institute for Excellence in Writing, as well as Tapestry of Grace. I am so impressed with these programs. They both do take quite a bit of time but I think are well worth it.
In addition to that, we have added a kindergartener to the "official" school roster, and our oldest is now a high schooler. If you are one of those experienced homeschooling moms with ten kids you're all kinds of "whatever" now, thinking of me with with my three, but what can I say... it's a wee bit daunting to me.
I couldn't help thinking this month that my most slow-to-recover-from school year preceded this even more intense year. I won't be surprised if the next four years are my most challenging school-wise. These will be the years I'll have the most children at one time. And all at extremely different levels.
But I also can't help being profoundly aware of God's grace in this enthusiasm. Of how it underscores a sense of this-is-where-our-family-should-be. Because when it is needful for me to be enthusiastic, despite exhaustion or busy-ness, God grants me the gift of enthusiasm.
It is a crazy wonderful thing, this homeschooling journey. While I may be the one teaching my students reading and writing and math, I am also the student, receiving new lessons daily from my Teacher.
public domain art by Johnny Gruelle