In years past, we have schooled year round. We took a break after about every six weeks, taking longer breaks for holidays and Christmas. Last year was different—we went to the US on home assignment. When we arrived home, I fully intended to give us a week or two to start up lessons again. Then I realised how exhausted we were. We ended up taking a break for six weeks because we needed every one of those days to recover from the time we spent visiting with family, friends and supporters. When I say take a break, we even kept our calendar free of social engagements for a time. We were that tired.
Eventually, we fell into a restful rhythm. We had a read aloud. We went to the park. The big kids went to football camp at church. We saw a few friends. Reflecting on that period, I enjoyed having that downtime.
This year is a little different, but we still find ourselves ready for a break from our regular school rhythms. I use the word “rhythm” instead of “schedule” because the latter implies a strict routine for us, and that isn’t what we want. We want to avoid having a strict timetable, as it would prevent us from achieving our goals if we start late (i.e. if we don’t start Bible at 10:00, it wastes our entire day). With a rhythm, we have a certain flexible order in which we do things. When we’re done with breakfast, we move on to the next activity, and the flow of our day just keeps going as smoothly as it will be. We typically know what to expect next in our rhythms, but when we have something different come up in our day, our rhythm helps us return to normal.
- Recently, I discovered our breaks are the best time to work on things we rarely fit in to our daily school rhythms. We’ll make certain to include handcrafts, watercolours, and drawing this summer.
- The eldest two children will carry on their swimming lessons until the end of the summer. Leon and our eldest boy will carry on practicing their sailing skills.
- We’ll get outside as much as the great British summer allows us to.
- The children are into making YouTube videos and “podcasts” right now, so I’m certain there will be plenty of that too.
- I picked a read-aloud about our upcoming historical period—World War I.
- There will be time to see friends, too.
“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.”
— Charlotte Mason, Home Education (p. 136)
Our rhythms are a part of the habits we form throughout our days. Forming these rhythms requires effort, but it helps to establish expectations and maintain peace in the home. The things I said we’d do might look like a lot, but there’s still a lot of room for relaxing and making memories. Even during the summer weeks, this rhythm is important to have those smooth and easy days. At the start of our summer break, six weeks sounds like a long time, but I’m certain it will fly by. I hope your summer is smooth and easy, as well as fun and full of memories.