I’ve read all the reasons why homeschooling through the summer is beneficial.

I completely agree.

It all makes sense.  Crucial skills are maintained and there’s no “summer slide.”  The kids maintain their good habits of daily routines and chores.  You can keep a less frantic pace during the rest of the school year because you know you have the summer to “catch up.”  It also drives home the point that life is school.  There is not a start day and a stop day.

It’s all learning.

I’ve tried many times with good intentions to follow this advice.  Maybe it’s my approach.  I’m too much of a pushover or too lazy.  I don’t have the stamina.  Maybe it’s my kids and they’re just not the self-directed academic types.  It could be nobody’s fault and summer break is just too ingrained in the local culture for us to successfully swim against the tide on this one.

Who knows.  For whatever reason, homeschooling through the summer has NOT worked for us.

Not once.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s not learning going on.  There still ends up being a certain amount of reading, art, fun science experiments, and nature exploration.  It’s just way less than usual and overwhelmed by great waves of reckless abandonment, wild days of running free in swimsuits with nerf guns, and (yes!) mountains of screen time.

Our usual checklist of things gets purposefully shoved aside, and order in the household deteriorates.  Singing, snack experimentation, movie watching and movie making abound.  Back-burner projects get moved forward.  Next,  break from togetherness naturally begins to occur as we ignore each other for a while to just do what we want.

At 10 am the knocks on my door begin.

It’s summer, and all the little neighbors are excited to play with my kids now that they’re not in school.  There are wading pools, bike rides, roasting marshmallows, and backyard camp outs.  Popsicle drips and sidewalk chalk drawings cover the driveway.   Staying up late for star gazing and fireworks, and lazy mornings of sleeping in and ignoring chores are the norm.  Family reunions, week long cousin camps, swimming lessons, piano recitals, and trips to the zoo.

Swimmer jumping from a dock at dusk

Summer is a glorious indulgence, a much-needed change of pace.  It’s like a natural active lull in the cycle of the year similar to REM sleep.  A shift to allow for space, contemplation, dreaming, creativity, rest, and rejuvenation.  There is less tension when we don’t fight it.

It works for us.

And then, inevitably, we get tired of it.

There is another shift in the air.

We all start wishing for more predictability.  More structure.  Everyone is sick of hot dogs and whiny from lack of sleep.  All of the winter’s pent up energy has been played out and we are rebounding.  Hard.

But this is GOOD.

Now we are ready to start fresh.  Everyone is excited to dive back into another year of planning, school, and hard work.  Moving on sounds appealing to us.  There is no dread of the continuation of plodding on because we’ve had a chance to let loose.  Now we have the energy to be creative, to discuss, to delight in the learning process.  We’ve had a break from the norm and from each other.  For once, school supplies and green smoothies sound more appealing than movies and candy.

That’s when we know the summer was all worth it.

How do you spend your summers?

Let’s do this thing!

Photos from Unsplash

Heather Tinker