by Leslie Fobbs
We’re nearing the end of our second year homeschooling, and I’ve decided to put my son in summer camp. Some homeschoolers continue throughout the summer either full steam or at a lighter pace. I think that’s great if it works for the parent and the child. However, I also consider taking a leisurely break from school and from each other to have its merits too.
I started out deciding I’d send Dee to his first week of sleep-away camp located a couple of hours away. Then, I thought a daily summer camp would also be nice. I lucked up and found out that our parish has a day camp that goes from Monday through Thursday and even provides transportation and lunch for a very affordable price (eat your heart out YMCA!). Here are the five main reasons I'm sending Dee to summer camp:
When I was a kid, my mother put us in summer day camp at the Urban League because it was the cheapest option for all four of us while she was at work. Those summers were a big part of the best fun I remember in my life. There were kids from my school that I knew as well as the opportunity to meet new friends. We swam each week (which is how I learned to swim), went on field trips, free-played in the park, and played organized games in the gym. That’s the experience I want Dee to have. We already know a couple of his neighborhood friends will also be attending and I’d love for him to meet others. With homeschooling sometimes his interaction with kids in our immediate area is limited because we go into the city to participate with the homeschooling group there a lot.
Yes, I said it. I’m doing this for me also. Currently, I have to snatch a couple of hours to myself early in the morning before Dee gets up. In those quiet moments, I can hear myself think and get a lot done. I’d like to experience a whole day of that consistently and see what I can really create for myself. I have a few hobbies in mind and things I’d like to learn towards being able to earn an income from home. And I can finally get a gym membership without worrying about childcare. Gonna lose those extra 15 lbs I’ve been whining about lately and get healthier!
Dee and I spend almost every waking minute of a majority of the year together. I think some time apart would do us both some good. I want him to have the opportunity to have other positive influences and people (adults and children) to learn from besides me. That is the whole point of joining homeschooling groups as well, but this is something just for him where I’m not involved at all. I mainly wanted to send him to the sleep-away camp so that he could gain some independence. It does make me a little nervous that I will not know the people he’ll be around when I’m not there, but at his age, it’s time for me to trust him and let go a little. He has demonstrated in the past that’s he comfortable sharing his experiences with me, so I know that when things come up that are not familiar to our way of living, we will be able to have a discussion and learn from it.
For Society (Ugh!)
I joke a lot about the robot-like routine that compulsory schooling forces kids into to prepare for the workplace. I don’t like it, but there is some reality to the need for it depending on what your child decides to do with their life. Since we unschool, our schedule varies each day and is very go-with-the-flow. Summer camp is like my compromise. Dee will get some exposure to routine and order - getting up early, standing in line, listening to instruction, and staying with the group - but it’ll be in a more relaxed environment that he chooses to participate in for a short period. That way his experience growing up is not one that will cost him a huge adjustment period if he does decide to go to college or work a regular, routine 9-5. He’ll even get to say he knows what it’s like to ride the big yellow school bus.
For Next 'School Year'
Lastly, I’m putting my son in summer camp so that I can have time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the next. Homeschooling is a continuously evolving process. Each year is different, and I’d like to go over what worked and what didn’t work for us. I’ll also be reading a bunch and hopefully learning new things about unschooling. Then I can make decisions about how we will proceed next year and order things that he may have an interest in. The planning process can be an exciting time for homeschoolers as you get to spend time thinking about your child, who they are, who they’re becoming and how you can continue to guide them.
I'm excited for our summer, the time we'll have apart and the Friday-Sunday we'll still have together (or whenever we feel like taking a break during the week). Summer camp's not a bad idea at all. Whatever you decide to do - continue schooling, travel the world, send your child to grandma's - I hope you and your children get to enjoy these next couple of warm months to the fullest.
This post will be the last one for awhile. Just like my decision to take a break from schooling I'm also taking a short writing break so I can take time to hunt and gather some really great things to share with you for next fall. See you then!