In theory summer is like every other season for us unschoolers; just warmer and with more swimming. Our days and routine remain pretty much the same.
However, everything around us changes.
Which is why summer is, in fact, not the same. We live in the world after all. The few classes my kids take come to an end in the summer. Many of our friends leave the city for at least part of the summer. People who see my kids out during the day stop asking “No school today?”
This summer for whatever reason, the disparity between the rhythm of our unschooling lives and that of almost everyone we know has been brought into unusually sharp focus. Over at FamilyonBikes.org a recent blog post talked about the benefits of slow travel with kids. For example, there is much more to be gained by staying in one place and soaking it in than in rushing from city to city on a frenzied tour.
My preference when traveling – and especially when traveling with the kids – has always been to go somewhere and settle in; to act, while we’re there, as though we live there.
I’m beginning to see that this is my approach to our every day lives as well. Slow living, you might call it. Classes and scheduled outings – any kind of social commitments – are limited to those about which enthusiasm is consistent and high.
There is nothing I hate more than rushing around. It is a trait I have passed on to my kids and that could perhaps be construed as lazy.
I suppose in a way it is.
This summer, with all classes ended and friends out of town, our slow living has gotten that much slower. We routinely forget what day of the week it is and going anywhere that requires us to transfer from one subway line to another is greeted with extreme reluctance and skepticism. Only the promise of long hours lounging at the beach in Brighton is enough to rouse us. Our trip to Indiana included a long drive, but once we got there we basically lived at the public pool or my cousin’s pond.
At first I thought the kids might get bored; become stir crazy and miss the regularity with which we see their friends during the other 9 months of the year. They do miss their friends who are away, of course, but not with the vehemence I was expecting.
The summer days are slow but not empty. We do….whatever. Of course there are groceries to buy and errands to run – those things don’t go away – but the absence of planned activities has allowed our days to be full in a different way. They are full of quiet exploration, creativity and imagination intertwined with computers, games and our favorite shows.
Summer will end. We’ll hold on to the slow living a little longer.