It’s the closest I get to “time off.”
I am often asked if we take a summer break from homeschooling. Yes, we take a break, but the reason may not be what you think.
Our summer break is more for my own sanity than for the kid’s pleasure. I do believe I’d go crazy if we did school twelve months a year. My brain desperately needs the time to recuperate, recharge, and relax. Taking a summer vacation also gives me the chance to tackle various projects around the house like: cleaning out closets, organizing clutter, purging the ever-increasing mountain of toys, making jelly, completing craft projects, sewing for the girls, and planning birthday parties.
I also have the tough job of keeping the monkeys occupied throughout the summer. While I could think of hundreds of household chores to keep them busy, the monkeys are none too thrilled with the thought of doing housework all summer. I can’t say that I blame them, but I do make them do their fair share. A few chores that the monkeys help with include: laundry, pet care, mopping, wiping down bathrooms, watering plants, and dusting. Their leisure time is spent sleeping late, swimming, playing Wii, riding four-wheelers, digging in a dirt pile, building with Legos, and aggravating each other.
Occasionally I try to sneak in a little education during the summer. A while back I told y’all that I am trying to incorporate nature study into our academic work. (See this post.) While I am not planning any formal nature studies for the kids this summer, I would like to send them out to observe and explore creation from time to time. And I’ve noticed that sometimes, if you keep your eyes and ears open, opportunities for nature studies knock on your door.
A few weeks ago there was a very strange looking critter clinging to the back door of our house. I’d never seen an insect with such a long, slender tail. It was the perfect specimen for a nature study!
Being insect ignorant, I had to use Google to help me identify this creature as a mayfly. Once I had a name for this bug, I did a little reading online, so I would have some information to share with the monkeys. I even found a couple of short, informative videos about mayflies for the monkeys to watch.
The monkeys thought the mayfly was a neat looking critter. They eagerly got out their nature journals and started sketching with their watercolor pencils. What was particularly cool is that this mayfly molted on our door leaving an empty exoskeleton for the monkeys to examine.
Lucy especially loves nature journaling. She never tires of adding pictures to her notebook, sketching everything from sunsets to pinecones. I’m very encouraged by her enthusiasm for nature study.
During our brief study we all learned that mayflies are pretty amazing critters. A few interesting facts:
- Mayflies live the majority of their lives (up to 3 years)underwater as nymphs (immature insects).
- Once the mayfly develops into an adult, it leaves the water for the land.
- Enormous swarms of mayflies emerging from the waters of the Mississippi River have actually been detected by weather radar. Wow, that’s a lot of bugs!
- The adult mayfly typically lives only 1-2 days. There are some species of adult mayflies that live only live 5 minutes!
- Adult mayflies exist only to reproduce, hence they do not have functioning mouths.
I tell you, the more we do nature studies, the more I like them! The monkeys definitely enjoy them too. It almost makes me want to get started on our new school year, so we can dive deeper into outdoor learning.
For now I think I’ll be content to enjoy the rest of my summer.