It's amazing the difference one month makes this time of year. Spring's arrival on the calendar last month was still very much winter. But in one month the longer and warmer days have worked their magic. And now, mid April, it's truly spring.
There has been rejoicing in our home (or at least in my heart) for the last couple weeks and life seems full of hope and optimism with the coming of green and new life on our little patch of earth.
The transformation of the season calls us outdoors and our learning naturally follows. I like what Jamie wrote at Simple Homeschool about seasonal education. Our own elementary homeschool rhythm has been very similar.
I like to live according to the seasons. My own energy levels, interests and activities change according the time of year and so it is with our homeschool.
And one thing I've noticed year after year is that spring is for science. It just naturally happens this way.
For us, elementary science is a hands-on study because this is how children understand their world. They want to know why things works, how they work. And how they taste!
They want to muck around in dirt and mud and woods. They want to look closely at things. Put critters in jars, know what that creature is called, what it eats.
We have never used any packaged science curriculum for elementary. Nor do I direct our science studies in the same way I direct our language learning or history studies. Instead we explore our world together, based on the kids' natural interests.
We make hypotheses, design experiments to test those ideas, make lots of observations, research, read, and record. I really think that simply by trying to make sense of what we observe, getting our hands dirty, building and tearing down, mixing stuff up, being in nature (lots), etc. we lay the foundation for future science study.
A visitor to our deck
Our family is in a transition spot with our homeschool. Two children are firmly planted in elementary years and one is in the middle years transition to young adulthood. If you are familiar with Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning (if not, I highly recommend it, it's one of my favorite homeschool books and I refer to it often) Celine is in the transition to scholar phrase.
This year she was ready to sink her teeth into something much more abstract than critters in a jar, though Celine never was "bug kid" like her brother and sister. She's always been much more interesting in flora, not fauna.
Last fall, it was time for Daddy to take some of the homeschooling reins from mom (yeah!) and introduce Celine to one of his interests - computer programming. Celine is studying science also this spring - computer science. Damien is the tutor and I'm moral and logistical support, lightening her household responsibilities as necessary to give her more time for her studies and creative projects.
For the first time ever Celine is taking a course, independent of us. We're not her teachers, we're her support team. A course with quizzes and even a final exam. This is Celine's first experience with exams. She's (almost) thirteen.
It's going really well. But we are still proceeding slowly and at her pace.
Some days I have a house of three kids - running around, playing in the woods. Some days I have two kids - running around, playing in the woods - and one young adult reading Japanese folktales, researching her latest doll commission or spending hours computer programming.
After a childhood of interest-led play, discovery, and exploration children reach a stage where they are naturally ready for more. It comes from within them. Their education becomes their own. It's not something we do to them, it's something they seek. But we have to give them the freedom to be children first and develop their love of learning.
Up until this point I have trusted that this process would unfold this way. Trusted that after watering my children's love for learning and watching them send their roots down deep - that one day they grow upward, start to bloom, reaching for the sun.
I see it blooming now.
It's a new season of learning and discovery. The season of spring, in more ways than one.