Sorry, it's been a busy few days, but we are still here and all is well.
I think I have figured out my school-malaise. You know, the one where I really need to do some school planning for the fall and just about anything sounds more interesting? In a moment of clarity the answer came to me today. In past years, while we have 'done school' all summer, I have never actually done detailed planning for what I was going to do. Previously, I had settled on a topic (or had one find us) and we took it from there. It was more free-form, with lots of reading, and allowed us to be flexible in what and how much we did. This was good, because summer can be difficult to plan... vacations, spontaneous field trips, lots of time of the beach, weeks of canning. You know these things are going to happen, just not when.
This summer, based upon the success of the previous year's detailed planning, I decided to do a fairly detailed plan for our study on electricity. I felt I needed this because it is not a subject I naturally know a lot about and wanted to be prepared. It hasn't turned out as I expected. Instead of being helpful, a detailed summer plan has been a hindrance. We have been working on it (and have quite a few things already to put in our lapbooks), but not as much as I had thought. I planned a little looser because I knew it was summer, but it wasn't enough. So every time we go to work on it, I feel a vague feeling of guilt and dread. I don't like to feel behind and the whole thing has taken the joy out of it for me. And I have learned that if I am not feeling excited or joyful about what we are doing, this will translate into my children not being terribly excited it either.
This was a bit surprising to me because this was the exact opposite of how a detailed plan worked for me during the school year. During the school year, it provided the advance thinking I needed to keep everything on track and allowed me to be relaxed. I knew that I had enough time buffer built in so that even if we had an off day or two, we would still be fine. The complete opposite of how this summer has felt.
So I think I will do a little reworking of our summer plan. We will still work on it, but I will trim it down so that we are focusing on less. This will allow me to feel as though we have successfully completed our study and still give me the break I need in order to start in the fall. I have also learned that I need a break from what we do during the school year, and I imagine my children do as well. Summer is looser and I don't need to make it into something that it's not.
I can look upon the whole thing as an experiment and thus be better prepared for next year. Breaks can be good and helpful, both for me and my children.
And we'll still end up with some pretty cool lapbooks.