Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Vacation?

Most people who know us know that we homeschool, and within the first few minutes of encountering us, most people we meet know we homeschool. In the decade that we've been "officially" homeschooling, I've fielded all sorts of questions. People are curious, and because I love what we do, I don't care to answer those questions.

One of the most common this time of year is "So, have you finished school, yet?" The easy answer is a simple no, but there is a reason. The reason is that the dance year ends with the recital, which is, traditionally, on Father's Day. Since our outside class schedules define our "school year", we don't end school until those classes end. So, for us, "school" doesn't end until the end of June.

Of course, we don't really begin or end school, not really. The summer is different from the fall, but the fall is different from the winter, and nothing is ever quite like the spring.

Our life is very seasonal, and we're always doing things that I feel like should be part of our portfolio. The question became, for us, to which "year" do we add the summer? And then, a few years ago, we settled on the answer - the next one.

So, when I'm asked, "Have you finished school, yet?" The answer in June is, "Not until after recital ... and then, we'll start next year."

The other question I hear a lot, especially this time of year, is "Do you take summer's off?" The simple answer to that question is no, but as with most things in my life, it's not quite as simple as yes or no.

I was having a chat about portfoliios one day. For new homeschoolers, especially, there's always a question of what the portfolio should include. The portfolio I prepare for my homeschool each year is, basically, a scrapbook. It has a lot of pictures, some lists of books the girls have read, ticket stubs to movies or plays, brochures from museums or field trips, and a summary of the year's experiences. It serves, not only, as an indicator that we've met the States' requirements, but also as a memento to my children. It's modeled after a school yearbook, and my girls enjoy looking back over the years to see how much they've changed, to see photos of old friends, and to remember some of the really cool things we've done and places we've gone.

As unschoolers, our philosophy is living is learning, which means everything is "school." Because we do so many very cool activities over the summer, I wanted to be able to also add those activities to our portfolio. I guess I felt like, since we homeschool, and since life is learning, that it didn't make sense to have a three-month "summer vacation gap" in our portfolio.

In answer to the question, "Are you finished with school?" I answer no. We're always unschooling ... and it never gets boring or tired, because each season there's something new to see and do.


  1. It's easy for folks to get confused since we school year 'round. I've had to come up with some semblance of a place to end and start new "school years" due to our family situation. So I decided to mish mosh the kids' birthdays (April and July), the end of the local school year, and my daughter's visitation dates all together. That means that this year she left as school was ending locally - and we'll start school year 2012-2013 when she gets back in about a month (which happens to be a couple weeks after little brother has his birthday and grades up out of Kindergarten). Schooling year 'round means we can take time off as we like or need - her summer/holiday breaks are her visitation time and we'll have a lightened load during our upcoming move and the holidays without losing any time overall....and allowing us to incorporate whatever educational opportunities come our way through travel, etc.

  2. Hi Wendy, it is freezing cold, raining, and blowing a gale here in our Southern Hemisphere winter, but I have been perfectly happy snuggled up on the couch reading your archived posts. What a journey you have been on, one that I am only a little way along on.

    I have a couple of questions for you. When you were experimenting with lacto-fermented cabbage, did you ever come up with a recipe that you really liked? And have you tried it with other veg successfully?

    Second, did you ever make the acorn flour? Or find any other practical edible use for acorns? There are hundreds of mature oaks in our Olde English colonial town that I would love to exploit!

    Thankyou for documenting your thoughtful practices and practical thoughts. I think your writing has been the catalyst I needed to push just a bit further into a more thoughtful, responsible, sef-reliant life.

  3. Thank you, Jo. Your comment is the catalyst that keeps me documenting what we're doing :).

    In answer to your questions:
    So far, the easiest recipe I've used for lacto-fermenting is the canned sauerkraut recipe. Basically, fill a pint jar with shredded cabbage, add 1 tsp each sugar and salt, loosely cover and set in the sun for three days. Then, seal the jars in a water bath. It came out delicious, but since it's canned, most of the nutrients of true lactofermented foods is lost.

    I've been experimenting, some, with recipes in Sandor Ellix Katz book "Wild Fermentation", which, if you're interested in lacto-fermenting, I HIGHLY recommend.

    We made acorn flour once, and we've also made sunchoke flour - which is easier for us, because there's no need to worry about getting out the tannins. We're hoping for a good acorn year, this year, because I'd like to do some more acorn flour. We have not used acorns for anything else, yet.