This is the time of year when homeschoolers can finally kick back and relax a bit. Portfolio reviews and standardized testing have been scheduled or completed by this point in the academic year. Notification forms and required paperwork for the next school year aren’t due just yet, so let’s all take a deep breath and enjoy reflecting back on what we and our children learned this year. Ah, that’s nice, isn’t it?
I must warn you that that when I write about continuing school throughout the summer months there are several possible types of response. I realize that there are men who are homeschooling, too, but most of my experience is with other women so my examples are intended to be simplified by sticking to the gender I know best. Guys, translate these into your own examples and experiences, okay?
First we have the Drama Mama, who with the back of her delicate hand pressed against her brow, feels faint at the thought of schooling year round.
“Hay-elp!” she cries softly. “Won’t somebody save me? Hay-elp!”
She looks hopefully around, but her wish for a homeschool substitute teacher for the summer months doesn’t materialize and she realizes that it is up to her to decide whether she should step up to the task. With practice, the Drama Mama may be able to procrastinate about whether to homeschool in the summer months at least through the month of June.
Then there is the Martyr Mama. When she hears that some homeschoolers continue schooling during the summer, she believes she is required to do so, too. She must always do what is best for her family and she folds her hands in prayer and asks for strength to face the trials ahead of her.
“I’ve already given so much to my children, sacrificing all of my own interests just to homeschool them for nine months out of the year. Now I need to prepare for teaching the summer months, too? It seems like so much to ask of me, but I will lay down my life for my children even if it kills me. And if it does, I hope they are at least grateful for all I have done for them.”
Heaving a heavy sigh, Martyr Mama gets down to the business of planning a demanding schedule – for the children.
Bounding along with zest for life is Cheerleader Mama, who can’t wait to get started on her summer schooling plans. Her enthusiasm is unavoidable as she shares her plans with other homeschoolers, her church friends, her neighbors, and most of all her children. All of them wonder if she ever needs to sleep, but they are afraid to ask just in case she gets the idea that night schooling is also an excellent idea.
“There is so much to learn and do!” she warbles as she flits from child to child imparting knowledge and curriculum supplies.
She fans the new books in front of her face so she can smell that new book aroma, and then does a little twirl of happiness. Sporting her “I ♥ Homeschooling” shirt, manicured nails and a stylish haircut, it is hard not to look at Cheerleader Mama with awe. A few secretly jealous individuals wonder if she will still look that good after her second year of homeschooling.
Worn Out Mama plugs away, barely realizing that it is almost summertime. She has been working with her children for so long and hard that she squints in surprise when she realizes that bright light she sees is actually sunshine. Worn Out Mama is on a roll with her homeschooling and she is afraid if she takes even a short break she may never find the energy start up again. Her momentum keeps her going.
“Should I homeschool in the summertime? I guess so. We haven’t finished all of our textbooks yet so we will just keep working away and try to keep up the best we can.”
If you ask Worn Out Mama just who they are trying to keep up with, her eyes kind of glaze over and she begins mumbling to herself. Then, as if becoming aware that there is more schoolwork to be done, she shuffles over to a large stack of completed work and settles in for a long night of grading papers.
Wise Mama considers her children’s needs and interests. She knows her struggling learner will fall behind if they don’t do at least some schoolwork over the summer. She also knows that in order to continue homeschooling over the years to come she herself needs some time to rejuvenate during the summer months.
“What would you like to learn about that we didn’t get to yet this year?” she asks her children.
With input from her students, Wise Mama plans a few field trips and projects that they have not been able to fit into their school schedule during the traditional school year. She follows a much lighter schedule so she and the children will have plenty of free time just to relax and enjoy themselves.
I have known each of these types of responders when it comes to summertime homeschooling. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve been like all of these mamas at one time or another. No matter what your reaction is to the idea of year-round schooling, there are many ways that homeschoolers are making it work for their families. Given time and experience you will figure out what works in your own family. When it comes to homeschooling during the summer months, what kind of homeschool mama are you?