One of the things I love about homeschooling is that our lives can complement the seasons. Instead of wrapping our schedules around the artificial ones of the school world (we’ll learn these five days from this hour to this hour, and these are the subjects we will learn for this period of time each day…), learning can be an organic accompaniment to life.
When we have a baby, bookwork is put aside while children learn about life and birth and caring for an infant.
When we suffer a loss (whether it’s a job or a loved one or just something we loved), we don’t have to keep up with meaningless trivia. We can grieve, celebrate, brainstorm, struggle or otherwise deal with true life.
When we have an opportunity, we can travel — even during school days!
Our homeschool always matches the seasons of the year, too.
In the winter, our lives are slow. We immerse ourselves in wonderful books, projects, unit studies, art and old fashioned activities. We bake, play games, use computers, watch educational programs and enjoy time together as a family.
In the spring, we burst out of our hibernation. We celebrate the return of the sun with lots of time outside. We start seeds, take part in the oodles of activities that start up again, celebrate birthdays (3 in one week!), and take lots of field trips. We bird watch, keeping track of the many species who return to the area and logging them. We search for new life at the beach, in the back yard, at parks and on walks.
In summer, the focus is on history (So many historical reenactments to take part in! Plus acting in the Wilder Pageant, going to rendesvous, visiting historic sites…), nature study, travel, sports, gardening and enjoying the outdoors. We camp and explore and swim. We take part in many of the opportunities for children that suddenly emerge because the school kids are off for the summer. We’re social, active and exhausted by September.
And then there’s fall.
I used to hate fall, because I have never been a fan of the cold and here in Minnesota it means the cold is coming very soon and for very long. I hated to see my garden turn brown and my flowers fold up for another year. I disliked the brown and gray that took over my green and glowing summer world.
Now that I have four children and such busy summers, fall has become something special to me.
We slow down again in fall. Daryl and I “put things up” — canning and freezing bags and bags of apples, green and red peppers and other goodies that are bountiful right now. We get oodles of pumpkins from a farm nearby for a dollar each and roast them to make jars and jars of homemade pumpkin puree.
We go to every last farmers’ market day and stock up on local, delicious produce that we won’t be able to get for months. We harvest the end of the garden produce and blanch, chop and freeze it. We get free extras of zucchinis, apples and such, and find a million ways to use them. We make ruby red crab apple cider from a friend’s crab apples. Some years we even gather acorns to make our own acorn flour for muffins.
And life gets slow again. The school kids go back to their world and stop ringing our doorbell every few minutes. The activities taper off, other than a few fabulous ones. We make soup, bake bread, go back to the libraries, get the art supplies back out and head back inside.
But another wonderful part of autumn is that we’ve learned to seize the last of the good weather and to really see the beauty in everything.
Lately we’ve been hiking every chance we get, and it’s become my new favorite part of autumn.
Yesterday we went to two different hiking spots — Pipestone National Park and Blue Mounds State Park. Both were beautiful and full of memories.
I took far too many pictures to post, so I made a collage of some favorites….
I no longer hate autumn, or even winter. How could I? I love the unique gifts all the seasons give to us — in homeschooling, in nature, in activities and in life. 🙂
And now, I’m off to get ready to meet fabulous friends in Mankato to hike some more before German class.
Enjoy the day!