I love the changing of the seasons, and as homeschoolers we get to enjoy each of them, especially as they blend gradually from one season to the next. Sometimes, in August, people ask me if things change for us much from August to September. The answer to that is usually, “No, not really.” When everyone else is gearing up for a faster pace, we tend to slow down and savor the autumn months. It’s cooler, so we don’t need to water the gardens as much, and the daylight hours are somewhat shorter, but there’s no big back to school panic or hurry up and get ready for a whole new year. Where we live, September is often sunny, so it feels like we get a little extra summertime. We can meander toward autumn slowly without abruptly saying goodbye to summer. We get a few extra weeks of non-rainy days for bike riding or other outdoor activities with homeschooling friends who are also not rushing back to school.
If, in early September, we started busying ourselves with curriculum, assignments, and numerous classes, we wouldn’t have time to do the things that are really important to us. We wouldn’t have time to enjoy the autumn air, the seasonal harvests, and other autumn opportunities that might arise. As it is, we take our time finding out what we want to learn, how we want to spend our time, and staying connected with each other.
In late August and early September, Ben enjoys a couple weeks in Oregon at Grace Llewllyn’s Not Back To School Camp. He’s been attending annually since he was thirteen. He so looks forward to this time to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, relax, and learn new things with all of them. During these weeks, Don and I enjoy some time together relaxing, gardening, bike riding, and doing outdoor projects while the weather is still cooperating.
Later in the fall, we might plan a short family trip or weekend adventure after all the summer crowds have dispersed. For a couple years now in October, we’ve joined friends from our homeschool group for a weekend in Port Townsend at a hostel near some old historic forts, beaches, and a great marine science museum. We share a variety of experiences together during these trips, and it’s a nice way to connect with each other before everyone gets busy with their own individual routines and pursuits.
At home, we harvest pumpkins, winter squashes, and apples from our gardens. We take time to make applesauce as well as preserve other fruits to enjoy during winter. We get the garden beds prepared for early spring planting, too. These things take time, and we’re glad to be able to plan for them along with other autumn adventures.
Sometimes Ben signs up for a new class or two in the fall. This is a time when new opportunities are offered, like a metalworking class at the arts center or a first aid class at the local alternative school. In the past, he’s joined other homeschooled friends for a community center ceramics class or an open gym time. This year he’s working in a fire service training program a couple hours a day. Along with these, there are also park days or other activities with our homeschool group that seem to start up again as well.
Mostly, however, autumn is a time for us to hunker down at home, read new books, play games, and work on projects that interest us. One year that might mean reading as much as possible about backpacking and then sewing backpacks from a kit. Another year, there’s time to work on building the perfect electric bass guitar, research the best guitar parts, read about the electronics involved, and learn to play some favorite songs.
Other seasons of the year continue in a similar fashion, each in their own way. There are birthdays and holidays to celebrate, friends to spend time with, more books and projects, and dozens of things to find out about.