Not Back to School

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

The long summer days are quickly coming to an end. We are waking up to a cool breeze in the morning and as we leave the park every evening to head home for dinner we notice the shadows are longer. When we tuck the kids into bed at night, they spend a few minutes staring out the window in amazement at how dark it is or as Little One says, “Everything has disappeared, Mama!”. Right around the corner is my favorite time of year. I would live in New England fall year round if I could. The smells, the sights, the sounds, the cool air…it is all heavenly to me.

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Ubiquitous NOT back to school photo

And with the changing of the season comes a new rhythm to our days. Though we are not back to school, we are back to a bit more structure to some of our days. In the spirit of my commitment to a schedule that provides variety in its pace, I have been careful when committing our time. When I think about our week, I am considering all seven days in the schedule because as natural learning homeschoolers, learning can happen any day or time. It’s not just Monday through Friday between the times of 8am-3pm that I consider because we could just as easily launch down a path of learning at 6pm on a Wednesday night or 10am on a Sunday morning. A path of natural learning is one that can (and does) happen at anytime as the inspirations hit.

With that thought in mind, I have left four days a week open for exploration, wandering, wondering, researching, and that beautiful art of boredom. I hope we use these days to settle into imagination and play, strike out for a day at a museum or the library, get out in nature and breathe in fresh air or just enjoy our time learning and exploring the world together as a family.

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The magical gate

For the three remaining days of our week, we have some new and exciting things planned. This year, Little One is old enough to join the charming, home-based Waldorf playgroup that his brother has loved for the last three years. After watching Big Brother walk through that magical gate at drop off, he is over the moon to be doing the same. He will spend his days tromping through the forest to Gnome Valley or the Golden Woods where he can climb rocks, splash in the pond and enjoy nature or spend his time back at the house playing with the gorgeous Waldorf wooden toys or the lovely green space outside and diving deep into his imagination with friends. This place is really a dream. Big Brother will join Little One for one of these days.

For the other two days, Big Brother and I (with Baby Girl in tow) are going to be trying a few new things this fall. After dropping off Little One at his playgroup, one day Big Brother and I will be focusing on building our connections with a group of local homeschoolers in our city. This will be a group of six families all living within a few miles of each other with kids ranging in age from 5-9 (with a few baby sidekicks) getting together once a week to engage in activities better suited for groups: from kitchen science experiments to baking or crafting. I’m excited for the activities, but more so I am looking forward to deepening connections with our neighbor homeschoolers that will be on this journey alongside us for years to come. My children’s classmates so to speak.

On the second day, Big Brother and I head out of the city for a new farm homeschool co-op for the day. Here we will spend the morning working on the farm and caring for the goats, sheep, and chickens. After the farm chores, Big Brother will have the opportunity to engage in a mixed age group (6-10 year olds) spending some time studying poetry, science, history, creative writing, and drama. This part of the day is a little more direct academic focus than we’ve ever tried before, but I am hoping that it will all be presented in creative and exploratory ways vs forced learning. I see it as an opportunity to strew a few new ideas to see what sparks his curiosity.

In addition to this, Big Brother and Little One will continue classes at the local art studio and their circus arts and beloved drumming class. Needless to say, our three scheduled days are busy. But I find comfort in knowing I’m leaving room to s-l-o-w down on the days that surround the busy ones. A little of this. A little of that. I think our fall is shaping up quite nicely. Let the new rhythm begin!

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