3 Ways Year Round Learning Lowers Stress

I know what you’re thinking.  “Give up my summer?  Are you crazy?!  That summer break is just as much for ME as for my kids!”  I hear you, Mama.  I’ve been there.

I get the need for rest.  I used to count down to the (generous) summer break I’d scheduled…and then start it early.  I love homeschooling, but let’s be real: it’s A LOT of work.  There was no way I would give those precious summer months up.  The kids needed that freedom and so did I.

But then we found freedom IN our homeschooling.  Natural learning has freed us from the expectations of traditional approaches and now we have joy and peace in our studies.  When my kids learn, it’s more like play, and what child doesn’t want to play all summer?

For example, in the summer months, children are surrounded with science lessons nearly all of the time.  With a little intentional guidance, those lessons happen almost by themselves.  The majority of our family’s science study happens during the summer months.  Playing in the dirt, catching butterflies, watching the clouds and the stars…the everyday things that we enjoy already easily lend themselves to stress-free lessons.  

One summer, my Six was out picking dandelions in the back yard.  I joined her and she started to notice the difference in some of the flowers.  I told her that dandelions grow through a life cycle and we began to hunt for flowers in the different stages.  When we had gathered them, we put them in order, and then she began to dissect them and compare their similarities and differences.  Natural conversation led to talking about how plants distribute seeds to reproduce.  Then she skipped off happily to gather more for a bouquet.  That whole exchange happened in less than ten minutes, but because it was fun and it was relevant, she remembered it.  Doesn’t that sound less stressful than planning and implementing a lesson on plant life cycles?

3 Ways Natural Year-Round Learning LOWERS Stress

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova

1. Missing a day is not a big deal.

I used to stress out over a missed day of school work.  I had lessons planned in order and the schedule we kept left little wiggle room for spontaneous adventures, meeting up with others for playdates or coffee, sickness or other unexpected events.  But now that we learn year-round, our schedule is highly flexible for things that come up.  When learning is our lifestyle we accumulate far more than the necessary “school” days required by many states’ homeschool laws, while still enjoying the flexibility to rearrange our schedule at will (even if it’s just to enjoy the first warm day of spring outside!).

2. Everything becomes a learning experience (even vacation!).

I am not advocating for “doing school” on vacation – that defeats the purpose for both you and your kids.  However, when learning is a lifestyle, even those precious vacation moments can qualify as learning time!  For example, my husband and kids enjoy fishing while we camp (I, on the other hand, would rather sit waterside with a good book).  Our big kids have learned valuable things like how to clean, prep and cook what they catch.  The littles – in charge of catching the bait fish – are learning about the ecology of ponds and streams as they search for different places to cast their poles.  A couple of intentional questions simultaneously turn a fun adventure into a learning experience. When you adopt a learning lifestyle, everything becomes an opportunity for inspiration and discovery to take place!

3. There is little to no prep required for spontaneous summer learning.

Using the two examples above, very little preparation (if any) went into those experiences.  We simply took advantage of what was already taking place around us.  I do much more “planning” for the winter months when there are specific goals I’m trying to accomplish with the kids (like spelling and math, for example).  But during the summer, we embrace the opportunities around us, and learning happens naturally.  (Natural exploration and play are legitimate approaches to learning, especially for children!).  You get the benefits of stress-free learning without sacrificing the quality of the information they’re taking in.

Be Free, Relax, and Learn!

A learning lifestyle opens up a world of possibilities and frees us from the expectations of traditional educational styles. It encourages our children to take advantage of the moment, creating lifelong learners. Education is not stressful when it’s born out of play and discovery – it eases the stress on our learners as well as on ourselves, freeing us to enjoy the process! So take advantage of the summer months for rest and relaxation AS WELL AS for the many beautiful moments and opportunities it lays before you!

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