Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer is still for learning!

Summer...aaaaahhhhhh. It feels so good to have put aside the 'heavier' book learning and take a few deep breaths. We've set up the kids' pool, caught up on (most of) the weeding, and stocked up on sunscreen. So does that mean we stop any efforts at learning for the next few months? Well...sort of. I mean, the effort is much less conscious than during the official school year, but most of us who homeschool know that learning doesn't stop simply because we've set aside the transcripts and course schedule for a while. I believe with all my heart that the essence of home schooling is that 'life is a child's laboratory'. So we do relax, but the gaining of knowledge and indulging in our innate fascination with the world around us doesn't really take a vacation.
With a high schooler, though, we have nonetheless found that it's necessary to view summer as 'classroom light'. It might not seem like a necessity to many people, but with a particularly motivated and ambitious child like our 14-year-old, it is a necessity for us. With plans to attend a military academy such as West Point of Air Force Academy, he's got some fairly lofty academic goals to meet in the next few years. Mathematics through Calculus, Physics, foreign languages like Hebrew and Arabic and the like, require that we take a somewhat 'use it or lose it' approach to his study schedule. It's a fine line between taking a break and letting the mental cogs and wheels rust! So while he'll have lots of fun this summer, he'll also be studying Algebra so that he'll be able to move onto Algebra II by the middle of next school year. He'll need Trig by the next year, so a schedule is critical. He's actually excited about it, which is further evidence that his mathematical proclivities do not come from his mama! I marvel at it, though, and it brings a smile to my face to realize that God designed him and knows him best, and that it never really was all up to me. He'll also be keeping up on his music and Hebrew, just to keep those juices flowing and stay in practice. He has a job at a local golf course, too...but in addition to getting a paycheck he also gets to play all the golf he wants! That's just plain cool!
Needless to say, our younger boys (10 and 2) get to take a much more casual approach. At these ages, learning is very much accomplished by simply observing the creepies and crawlies in the yard, microscopic pond critters, and enjoying the simple pleasures of splashing in the pool water and laying on their backs as they marvel at the blueness of the sky. Lazy afternoons spent swinging, reading and even enjoying Flintstones DVD's round out their days pretty well, and provide me with much-needed downtime and catch-up time around the house. Dad brings his own special gifts to the summer dynamic. A couple of free pallets and some salvaged siding became a tree house, turning a giant willow tree into the perfect venue from which to reenact Civil or Revolutionary War battles. The nights they spend camping with Dad and the dogs in our pop-up each year are already turning into a treasured tradition. The days go by quickly sometimes, but they feel so satisfying in their simplicity that it's hard to be anything but thankful at the end of the day. I watch the world rush by at breakneck speed, with little or no time to spend simply being with those they love, and I am mindful of just how much I do NOT want that for myself or my family. Thankfully, the Lord planted deep within me an inability to fake-function in such a fashion. I used to think it was a weakness, after all it made my quite different from virtually everyone around, I consider it a mercy.
I'm so proud of these children, and so thankful that they are ours for a time. These summer days are hopefully a tribute to God, in thanks for this precious gift. I relish their childhood, and plan to spend the next couple of months enjoying it with them. May God bless all the families out there who are investing so much love and effort in their children, and letting life be a simple and quiet adventure apart from the madness around them. I honor them for laying themselves down to obey the call of God on His people to be the ones to raise up and train their children according to His ways---all year long.