About Me

I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure (using font only to enable access in settings with poor internet)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

'Summer holidays'?

'Do you take a break for the summer?' a lot of people have asked me lately. I wonder what your reply is, and what your reasons are. For us, because the boys don't really know that they are learning or 'doing school', then there seems no need to take a break or do anything differently. Quoting Charlotte Mason, 'Education is a life', and in summer there is plenty of life about to learn from.

Some examples:

1) Summer storms. Why? Why does the weather do that? What is thunder? Why does thunder come after the lightening? Why are thunderstorms most often in the afternoon? Why do we get more rain in the summer? Examples of 'educational' activities: Dancing in the rain, and making comparisons with the rain in Uganda. Books describing weather. Rain guages (made out of just about any kitchen recepticle they can find!). Watching plants grow and fruit ripen. Describing different types of cloud and learning which ones are rain clouds.

2) Walking between some farmers' fields, watching the harvest. Comparing ripe and unripe grain. Gleaning amongst the edges of the fields (and explaining how in the Old Testament there was a provision made for poor people that the edges of the fields would be left, and that the harvesters would not return to collect the gleanings. The story of Ruth comes to life as you walk through the edges of fields on a hot day!). Collecting enough wheat to thresh and make a small harvest (enough to grind and make a loaf of bread). Discussing the impact of farm machinery on the lives of individual farmers and the economy in general. Linking wheat and the harvest to the weather conditions as described above - comparing this year with last, for example.

3) Ripening fruit. Earlier than usual this year, as a result of the different weather conditions. Ample time to start foraging and dreaming up new recipes. And as always, cooking brings with it a whole multitude of literacy and numeracy tasks, in addition to art and science!

4) Taking a picnic blanket and a pile of books to a park. The activity (reading) hasn't changed, but summer affords the opportunity to stay outside for longer and enjoy the warm weather.

For us, to take 'breaks' in accordance with a traditional school calender might not be a helpful thing. One of our reasons for home education is that we don't want the children to lose that love and zeal for learning that they currently have. It doesn't feel like school, and doesn't usually feel like 'work', because they are exploring the areas of life which currently fascinate them. To say, 'Now its time to take several weeks off and have fun' might communicate a message that what we are currently doing is not fun. However, we do take breaks at other times - for example when we travel or are visiting friends or family, we do a scaled down version of our normal activities. Whilst attempting to maintain the usual basic structure of a day, things will change. And so we communicate that there are times of celebration when life takes a different pace; this seems healthier to me, that there is a specific and positive reason why we have not read so many books today, or have not done any experiments or so forth.

This summer is proving less frustrating than previous ones - perhaps my expectations have changed, the boys are that bit older so the range of things we are doing is changing, perhaps also I am learning to be content and celebrate the unique opportunities we have as a family. The autumn will bring several trips to different parts of the country, and I look forward to these with eager anticipation. In contrast, I hear of other friends feeling frustrated by being constrained by the academic year. Contentment is a wonderful place to be!


  1. Hope the farmer had already harvested before you gleaned?

  2. I don't think it would count as 'gleaning' if the harvest had not already taken place. We also had discussions about that, about what is stealing, and what is not, and what might be considered trespassing. The story we did not talk about yesterday (but could have done) was how Jesus and His disciples walked through a field on the Sabbath and ate some ripe grain fresh from the crop.

  3. This all sounds very much like our summer on the E. Sussex Coast. We have been walking along the highway picking lots and lots of ripe blackberries - with my husband doing some rather daring acrobatics to bring in a delicious haul. We also have a wild apple tree that has an especially bumper crop, so we and some sisters in Christ enjoyed a delicious apple and blackberry crumble. It is a sabbath year by the Jewish calendar so we thank you Lord and pray you bless our little town!