It's almost summer. It's so close I can taste it: watermelon, lemonade, popsicles and the little dab of sunscreen that dripped too close to my lips. I can feel the warm sunshine on my legs and sense the anticipation of pulling my floppy, wide-brimmed hat out of the closet.
In years past, we have had no problem tying up the loose ends of our SL Core and following the rabbit trails of individual interests for the bulk of the warmer months. All of those books that are too good to miss as read-alouds get pulled into rotation and savored on our back hill while I lounge in the shade and my children construct elaborate play spaces out of picnic tables, tree branches and old bedsheets. Math becomes pure pleasure as we experiment with game after game, pitting ourselves against the computer, each other, or even a clock. Language Arts is solely voluntary, and always lively; plays are written and performed, sidewalk chalk turns the concrete into a billboard and long afternoons are spent reading and re-reading favorite tales. Science is of the living variety as we walk through park trails, dig up worms and make rainbows with a garden hose.
All of this is wrapped around a general theme that I've chosen for the summer months. Using my children's curious questions as a guide, I fill our house with resources on whatever idea or subject has caught their fancy. This has been an extremely popular approach to the school in the past. Last year's theme (fine art and classical music) carried on well into the "school year" and is in fact still enjoyed by all three children. Spending an entire summer painting, drawing, listening to music, reading about composers and viewing some of the finest pieces of art ever created via our computer definitely didn't have a negative effect on the kids. And it didn't even take away from their pool time.
This year, our SL Core won't end on such a neat time table. Adding Oliver to our family threw a few more curves into the schedule than I could have planned for, and we're not quite ready to call it a year. Even so, I'm looking ahead to summer. I am leaning towards having our main theme be botany. The children are enjoying Apologia Botany, but have gotten a little frustrated with how slowly I am leading them through the book. Believe it or not, they want more plants. :-) Summer is really the perfect time to dig into this topic: gardening, hiking, playing with a flower press, the options are almost endless. I see a lot of opportunities here, as well, for the big kids to take the lead in their own explorations, allowing me to enjoy some leisurely time in the kiddie pool with Oliver.
I can picture Jo digging in the dirt, Atticus collecting specimens and Logan cataloging every variety of leaf he can name. I can see the blackened soles of 8 medium-to-little feet padding up to the bath each night, and tubs full of water getting murky with the washing away of so much earthy fun. I can see my children's delight as their carrots are tugged from the soil, and their frustration in keeping the slugs at bay. I can envision Jo's lean body in her bathing suit and shorts, traipsing over the hill. Atticus, freckled and strawberry blond, dutifully following along behind. Logan, tall and trim, in his own world. And Oliver, losing a bit of his baby rolls as he toddles into his first summer without the routine of daycare to keep him indoors.
Can you tell I'm ready for the SUN?!?