Year-round or summer break?

Do you homeschool year-round or take a summer break?

I think we are going to be year-round homeschoolers. First of all, our summers are routinely 115- 120° so we don’t spend a ton of time outside. If we’re going to be stuck inside, we might as well get some work done, right?  Also, we’ve taken week long breaks several times throughout the year for vacations and we’d like to be able to continue to do so.

I am planning to wind down as Avery finishes each subject and then do a week break & celebration before moving her up to the next grade.  She is the type of person who needs or wants that clear definition of when she is done and moving up. She has already finished her geography book for the year and has about 3-4 weeks left of math and writing.  As she finishes each subject, I’m planning that she will just have less to do each day and focus more on any subjects that remain (we’ve apparently taken several extra weeks off of spelling because she has about 8-10 weeks left of that).  We should be done around the end of May when traditional schools are also letting out.

We’ll take a week off, bake a special year-end cake, and maybe visit an amusement park.  Then we’ll head right into our next year! 

So, how do you do it? Year-round? And if so, do you always just keep rollin’ or do you make a definition between the grades?

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Tinkerlab

Where do you go when you need inspiration, validation, or just new ideas?  Do you have a favorite homeschool mama author or book?

We have a pretty good art table at our house that the girls use often but I don’t often plan or teach art projects.  I grabbed Rachelle Doorley’s book Tinkerlab recently during a sale and I have been loving it!  I was looking for artsy ideas and projects for my little ladies but I found so much more than that.  I was totally surprised to find that I really loved the introduction, the how & why to create a tinkerlab, and the real life examples and experiences.  I loved this part so much that I’m looking for other homeschool mom inspirational books (hence, my request for your favorites).

This book also made me realize that we’re already headed in the right direction with our art table.  Here I was thinking that I was doing something wrong because we weren’t doing organized art projects. When in fact, having that open, free range art space is part of the GOAL.  We have that.  Our art table has paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, sequins, feathers, pom poms, stickers, pipe cleaners, stamps, etc etc that the girls are always free to use and create.  Our art table is over a carpeted floor so paint is a mom-supervision-required medium but everything else is a free for all (even glitter, much to my husband’s dismay).  And the girls use the space daily.  Their daily use is what made me seek out more guided art projects.

Although we are doing well with our easily accessible art space, the Tinkerlab book has so many more ideas.  There are 4 sections in the book: design, build, concoct, and discover.  Each section focuses on a different element of the creative mind.  The experiments and set ups in the book are mostly EASY to do and don’t require much more than what I already have at home.  There are a few ideas in the build category that involve small toy motors and wire strippers that I’ll leave to my husband….

So many great ideas for getting them to explore and discover without telling them what to do.  I love that instead of projects, this book has set-ups.  Give your child materials and see what they can come up with instead of telling them what to make.  I love this!

As I was reading, I got a quick set-up going for my girls.  I gave them paint with q-tips, feathers, pom poms, and plastic forks.  Once they got going, I sent them on a scavenger hunt around the house for anything that they thought would be fun to paint with….the only rule was NO actual paintbrushes.  This wasn’t a set-up that was directly out of the book but as I was reading, I was catching on to the idea.

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire....

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire….

 

(I bought my copy of Tinkerlab from Timberdoodle. No strings, I wasn’t asked to write about it….just sharing something I love.)

Outside School

Where we live in Southern AZ, we’re blessed with spring temperatures already.  It has become a daily thing for my girls to request “outside school”.  We set up a blanket and all of our work for that day right outside our front door.  The girls take turns doing their work on the blanket with me and playing in the driveway.  We take out our bikes, scooters, chalk, etc.

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We get so much more work done when we do outside school!  Even though they are continuously playing, they are more motivated to focus on their work when its their turn and BECAUSE they are continuously playing, they don’t get restless and fidgety.

I love outside school too because it gives us a rare opportunity for 1 on 1 learning time.  Neither of my girls nap anymore so we usually all 3 sit at the table and work together.  It works fine but I know that 1 on 1 time is important too.  Outside school keeps one happy and playing and not interrupting while I get to focus on the other.  And then we switch!!

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These girls would probably do a week worth of school in one day, as long as we did it outside!