Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Joys of Spring

I saw a Facebook meme the other day, that went, "Our homeschool year goes like this: in the fall, classical education.  In the winter, Charlotte Mason.  In the spring, unschooling!"
It made me smile because it was so familiar.  Not that we necessarily engage fully with any particular style at any given time, but because I do notice a definite shift in our (or my!) approach each season.

In the summer - at least this was true last year - the sunny days lent themselves to a LOT of outdoor fun and no desire to be cooped up indoors following planned learning activities.  Freedom to play and run about is key.

In the autumn as nights draw in and temperatures start to drop, we definitely and naturally tend to focus more on structure, as our brains have had a lovely rest and chance to grow naturally and become ready to tackle new ideas.  Maybe it's all those "back-to-school" promotions with their shiny pencil cases and brand new notebooks with pristine pages waiting to be filled in.

By the winter, having got to grips with new subjects, and having eked out as much time as we can outdoors, kicking through leaves, collecting berries and filling our lungs with rich fresh air, we are usually persuaded indoors more frequently by the onset of rain, or ice (not snow - snow is a glorious excuse to get outdoors and have fun-with-a-capital-F... sadly the winter just gone involved no proper snow - just LOTS of rain, but at least we got to jump in big puddles!).  Happily, this "indoors" time coincides with Christmas, which is a HUGE deal in this house.  Who needs to go outdoors when we can be inside, cosying up over festive stories, baking gifts for friends and liberally sprinkling glitter over all copious amounts of joyful craft?!  The rest of winter after Christmas can be a challenge.  We make ourselves get out (with waterproofs if necessary) so that we don't go stir crazy - but otherwise, more time indoors with lots of books, kits, and general strewing is the name of the game.  Structured activities do not go down very well during late winter.  I find this is the season when I am most likely to hear the B-word (bored).

So by Spring we are ready for new challenges - ready to get outside with a vengeance.  The new life springing forth everywhere both reflects and inspires our own renewed energy.  Yes, we are ready to tackle new subjects again - but tempered with plenty of outside activities.  Home educators everywhere come out of hibernation!  This Spring has been a particular joy for us on two fronts: firstly my health/ physical ability has improved to the point where I can start to tackle the mess that is everywhere.  Our kitchen and front room are now generally tidy - and easy to keep that way (I'm not looking at the hallway or study yet).  I've said it before, it makes such a HUGE difference to me to live in a fairly tidy environment.  Don't get me wrong - I have three boys and this house is fully lived in.  It is by no means a show-home. But it is tidy enough now to feel nice to be in - and that in turn makes me feel ,more able to focus on the boys.  When it's a mess I feel trapped by the overwhelming responsibilities of housework and educating the boys, and that renders me fairly incapable of doing either effectively.  When I take the time (usually not that long) to get back on top if the housework, home ed flows so much more easily, whether parent-led, child-led or anything else.  Weird, but true.

Secondly, my lovely new neighbours.  This spring has been especially joyful because the boys now have home educated friends on hand to enjoy outside with.  My driving is still very limited, so we are restricted to places where we can walk.  Happily there are my beloved glorious leafy lanes nearby, and is a small playpark just up the road, with a large grassy area next to it - perfect for playing catch, flying kites, riding bikes etc with our friends... it's almost like having playtime at school (albeit a very, very small school with lots of outside time).  We have been up there every day this week, and planning to continue :)

Here are some photos from our walk last week...
Visiting the hens up the road who provide our eggs

"thanks, girls!"
*breathe in all that fresh air*

bluebell woods on the way home... just so beautiful!

So Spring is now my favourite season.  Admittedly I will probably change that when the next season comes around - I generally love each season when I'm in it.  For now though, I have renewed energy, tidiness in the main living zones, I am able to concentrate on the boys' "education", and we are getting lots of time outside enjoying fresh air and physical activity... it feels good!

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