We’ve been homeschooling for over two years. (this is why we chose to homeschool and how long we plan to do it). Not a lifetime, certainly, but I’m not a complete novice anymore either. I’ve learned so much about the process and our personal style through a lot (a lot) of trial and error over this time period. I’ve had three “first days of homeschool” and they all begin the same- with a plan that outlines the structure of our day, a set curriculum, theme weeks, and a lot of go-get-em excitement. I love the energy the start of our year brings and I usually feel so on top of it.
That vigor carries us through for a while, but come mid-October, it begins to dwindle. Having a “math block” and a “language arts” block feels cumbersome and restrictive rather than delightfully planned out. We start to crave more outdoor time because it’s finally not hot as Hades outside. By this point some of the curriculum has turned stale and monotonous so I start looking for ways to make learning more fun, even if it just means math sheets with pumpkins and scarecrows on them. As we get into December we put aside regular curriculum to focus on all the joy that comes with the Christmas season. We get our math through baking and buying gifts, and a lot of reading aloud thanks to our favorite Christmas picture books, but mostly we take an academic break and enjoy being together during this special time of year.
As we get into January and the bitter cold, we do get back to our curriculum, sometimes having added in a new handwriting curriculum or something else that feels fresh, but we also crave coziness. We light candles daily and find ourselves filling downtime with reading aloud, making soup, and watching documentaries. When spring starts to arrive a few months later, it’s quite the opposite. We have cabin fever and are ready to meet our friends at the park, go hiking and just play. We push through with curriculum, eager to check off and be done with the must-dos of the school year.
Then summer comes with swim team and friends galore and though I intend to homeschool year round, the idea of worksheets sound really unsexy and we end up taking a break from all structure. YAY SUMMER!
Wash, rinse, and repeat.
As a new homeschooler, I felt a lot of guilt about this. I wondered if I was a failure. Why the heck couldn’t I just stick with my start of the year plan?
Slowly I began to see that just because our preferred structure style changed with the seasons, the learning never ceased; it just took a new form. I stopped fighting it because I began to trust how natural it was to experience this flow of the seasons and the tendencies they lent themselves too. Seasonal homeschooling. Once I said, it felt like the perfect term to describe our annual rhythm.
I also let go of the idea of needing a homeschool style label. When you first get started homeschooling it’s normal to be asked your preferred style. Do you subscribe to the Charlotte Mason method? Classical education model? Unschooling? After feeling like I needed to choose and stick with one, I finally realized I didn’t have to. We can, and do, follow a little of all of them!
Now I’ve moved beyond not fighting the natural flow of seasonal homeschooling to fully embracing it. I find so much beauty and peace in it. It’s taken becoming confident in my choices and not worrying about outside judgement on what I should or should not be doing in our home and our homeschool.
For example, December is upon and in my homeschooling circle I usually say that we take December off from school. But that’s not entirely true. While we may not be rocking our Singapore Math on the daily, the learning doesn’t stop, it just takes a new form. December for us is about focusing on time together and the act of giving. It’s about baking cookies because it’s fun and it tastes yummy and it just so happens to bring in lessons of measurements and fractions. It’s about talking about the reason for the season (currently we are doing Truth in the Tinsel) and making Christmas tree ornaments. It’s about staying in our pajamas and watching our favorite Christmas movies and creating those cozy memories to look back on for the rest of our lives. And there should be no guilt in any of that.
As I’ve become more interested in this rhythm, I’ve learned that seasonal homeschooling isn’t an original concept I thought up. A lot of people refer to it as hygge homeschooling, too.
Hygge—pronounced Hoo-ga—is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.” (The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living)
This word has become part of my core goals- to live with intention and create hygge in my daily life.
I wanted to share this with today in case you’ve been there, too- wondering why you couldn’t seem to commit to a homeschool style (am I Charlotte Mason? An unschooler? A classical education fan?!) and if it meant you weren’t cut out for this. Because that’s how I felt for a while and it made me doubt my choices. Now I believe that at the core of homeschooling is the word home, and for us, home comes first. Our home life naturally fluctuates with the seasons, and therefore our homeschooling routine does as well. I have confidence that these relationships, memories, core values, and sparks of curiosity will serve my children well- even if the only math we do this month is measuring cups of flour.