Summer Learning, Had Us a Blast!

Summer in the desert isn’t a time for a lot of outdoor play. It’s much too hot for riding bikes all day. We tend to save our fooling around outside for evenings and cooler seasons. Unfortunately, summer on the farm is also not a time to travel and get away from the oppressive heat. Because of the odd constraints of farm life and climate, summer tends to be a season of indoor play and learning around here. It also tends to become a time of staying up late and sleeping more during the day.

This summer has certainly been a time of learning. Strangely enough, that “coincides” with this being a summer in which I wasn’t determined to “educate” the children. Last summer marked the beginning of our unschooling journey and my girls spent most of it deschooling.

Prior summers were usually spent in efforts to “prove” I could homeschool them or to try to cram all the things in their heads that I thought they “should” have learned in public school and knew they didn’t. This year, for the first time, I was unconcerned with what they had learned the previous year, what they were going to learn the next year, and all the rest. I like to think it was a “new normal” for us.

What did they learn without my interference? Let’s find out, shall we?

They started a blog with an unschooling friend on which they post fan-fiction they’ve written, cartoons they’ve drawn, and more.

They learned more about geography than I know thanks to the anime series “Hetalia.” They also picked up an amazing amount or world history. That series has fueled the fan-fiction as well as a new career exploration for my younger daughter into the world of historical fiction writing.

The older girl bought herself an excellent graphic design program and has spent a good portion of the summer learning to use it in ways I can’t begin to explain because frankly it’s way over my head. She’s learned to find her own learning resources with it, too.

It has been a lovely summer for exploring astronomical phenomena. We were in a slim belt of “optimal viewing” for the annular solar eclipse. Only a week or so later we enjoyed the transit of Venus. Our telescope wasn’t quite strong enough to properly observe Pluto at opposition but we enjoyed watching both Mercury and Venus at maximum illumination.

By the time this is published we will have spent a night wishing upon fallen stars thanks to the Perseid meteor shower. And shortly after this article is published you’ll find us peering faintly at Neptune in opposition which should barely be visible through our telescope.

My older girl has also spent a good deal of time this summer working with her new digital camera. She’s busily learning all sorts of ways to get better photographs. It’s partly an exploration of art, partly technology, and partly the physics of light.

The younger has been obsessed with making and saving money and planning a huge world tour in the distant future. Whether the trip happens or not, she’s already learned a great deal about travel arrangements and current geo-political conditions.

That’s a lot to learn in one short summer. So much for the myth of summer vacation.

~ Mari

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