Family Rhythms vs. School Rhythms: Travel and Community Activities

This is a continuation of my thoughts on the post that JoVe from Tricotomania wrote called “Contemplations on the School Year.”

In regard to the wonderful opportunity homeschooling provides in travel year-round, JoVe wrote:

First of all, let me say that one of the positive benefits of homeschooling for me is the ability to do things (particularly travel) outside of the usual school vacation times. This has financial benefits and also means that attractions are less crowded.

As I mentioned earlier, our family also takes advantage of “out-of-season” travel, also known as within the operational school schedules. But, there’s a difference in my mind because it rarely has occurred to me to think about our travel plans in conjunction to the school schedule! Why should it? As JoVe mentioned, I’m a homeschooler, so the school schedule doesn’t mean anything to me in planning travel experiences. The primary motivating factors for our family in looking into travel opportunities is the inspiration or drive of a particular family member’s desire to experience a particular event or activity as well as timing in regard to our own family rhythms. The secondary factors that are considered are weather conditions and expectations, prices (which obviously are effected by the school schedule), and expected crowds (again, effected by the school schedule). Therefore, it has been just as prevalent for our family to take trips during typical travel times such as summer or holidays as it is during regularly scheduled school days. We travel year-round in synchronization to our own family rhythms.

JoVe continues with some thoughts about local and community activities offered in relation to the school schedule:

So one thing influencing homeschoolers’ calendars is the fact that we might want our children to partake in some group activities with other children and these are often geared to schooled children and thus available in relation to the scholastic calendar.

This would also extend to activities during the school year. The recreation centre organizes their swimming lessons on a timetable that fits with school terms and summer holidays so even the homeschooling groups get scheduled in those terms.

I’m not sure I have felt these effects as greatly as JoVe is implying. I have found, particularly in the last 5-7 years, that most activities are now offered to homeschoolers during school hours, and at wonderfully advantageous lower prices. Admittedly, I absolutely love this aspect about homeschooling and group activities in the community because I get to drive in regular, low-key, day traffic, save a few dollars, and wait out the activity in a usually laid-back environment with periodic great conversation opportunities with like-minds. These activities can be from gymnastics to YMCA gym-and-swims to park and recreation sponsored sports to 4-H groups to the typical field trip to anywhere.

I have found the main problem arises when a child is interested in entering a more competitive atmosphere, such as when my son, Eli, wanted to join the competitive boys’ gymnastic’s team. I found myself stuck with the school schedule-driven timeframes, and the traffic, prices, and mainstream waiting room experience that goes with it. What that time period gave me was simply the realization of how nice the “slow life” really is.

On the other hand, in some fields, entering the competitive field doesn’t have to mean you end up in the “hustle and bustle world” of school schedule timing. When Eli took high quality piano lessons, we were able to find qualified instructors that gave us our preferred times during the day. This was also true for English horse riding lessons for Abbey, although the competitions were on the weekends and summer, though that may have been based more on work schedules since there were as many adults at these events as young people.

JoVe goes on to comment about the pacing of the events offerered:

Has anyone thought of a different format? Perhaps the intensive 1 week day-camp format? Has this been tried and shown to not work for one reason or another? Or are we following the scholastic calendar and once a week scheduling out of habits so deeply ingrained we hardly perceive them?

Again, my first instinct is that I am not attracted to once a week scheduling out of habit or conditioning, but because it would be more in line with respecting our family’s internal rhythms. In order to bring one child to an activity, let’s say based on an interest, that met every day for a week, for a 2-4 hour block, would require extensive rearrangement of my schedule, let alone everyone else’s in the home. Then, try to dupicate that for several children, I wonder if there would be any semblance of rhythm to the family? The family and home are important elements to our homeschool lifestyle.

On the other hand, week-long overnight camps for my older children are something we look for at least on an every year basis. I believe a week-long day activity 2-3 times a year per child would be likely an advantageous immersion experience into a beloved topic. My oldest son, at 10, attended a week-long day camp for drawing, and he absolutely LOVED it. But, to do something like that every week would interfere with what homeschooling stands for in our life. So, let’s say it might be beneficial once a month, but then, it comes down to a binge sort of experience, which might have it’s appeal. On the other hand, take those five days, spread them over the month, back to the once a month system, and you have a consistent diet, which has another sort of appeal.

I guess what I’m saying on this one is that I don’t see it being representative of a school schedule, but one of a rhythmic sort of feel. Further, I don’t see what would hold a homeschooler back to creating week-long “day camps” based on various interests. As homeschoolers, it’s long been a mentality of “create what you want” and “if you create it, they will come”. I remember my first year of homeschooling, my oldest was extensively into dinosaurs. He had accomplished so much independent learning that I could sense that he would enjoy sharing this passion with someone else. So, I organized a “unit study” type of situation, invited a young lady that was equally enthralled with the topic, and met and learned together every day for several hours or more for one or two weeks, I can’t remember. It never occurred to me not to put something together for him in this vein.

If you’re talking about other facilities and organizations offering these types of week-long camp experiences, I would think it would be a matter of discussing it’s viability with them and asking them to give it a try. For instance, our local science center often offers week-long camps in the summer, but only weekly classes for homeschoolers during the school year. But, I’ll bet they would consider offering a week-long camp during the school schedule if it was broached by the local homeschoolers.

Abbey with horse, Radar, and coach, Christy. Weekly riding lessons on Fridays at noon:

Adam on the parallel bars for Special Olympics gymnastics, with me as coach, during the day each week at a gym I was able to work a freeby deal with:

Alex with friends for a weekly unit study that he desired, so I made it happen . . . weekly was enough for him:

Family picture at Disney World in February, 2006. We had a FAB time:

2 responses to “Family Rhythms vs. School Rhythms: Travel and Community Activities

  1. It’s really interesting to hear this conversation contrasting family rhythms and school rhythms. The family pics are great : ). We seem to do the bulk of our activities as a family. We live waaaay out in the middle of nowhere and my husband works at home so that seems to detach our lives a bit from the customary school rhythms. But fall always makes me think of pencils and books and brand new art supplies — that was the good part of school, for me growing up!

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