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“Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
“All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain.
“Good morning!” he said at last. “We don’t want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.” By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
“What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!” said Gandalf. “Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won’t be good till I move off.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
This year has been one unusual thing after another. My emotions of our derailed carefully-planned school year have run the gamut of guilt in not being able “to do it all” to guilt that my kids are being short-changed by doing much of their work independently. When I am rested and caffeinated, I know neither is true. We usually school year-round (meaning eleven of the last fifteen years), and so at first I thought we’d simply plod on and if the year doesn’t end then it doesn’t matter if we are behind a completely arbitrary schedule that means nothing to anyone but me. The kids do the next thing and are doing great. Letting go of my own expectations came by way of an unusual source- JRR Tolkien.
Reading the above quote planted the thought in my head. Being outside, reading a great book, really absorbing the Middle Earth Culture would be just as worthwhile as marching through our textbooks.
We haven’t read The Hobbit with our youngest yet and that was the inspiration that led me to the crazy thought of just picking an end date and putting all the regular subjects up on the shelf. They will still be there to pick back up again at the beginning of September.
I guess this post isn’t really so much about how to end the year, but rather why doing something different may be beneficial for you and your students. I’m a great believer in using the seasons to your advantage as a CM/Eclectic/Classical type homeschooler. It’s not really the best time of year, where we live, to be heavily academic. It’s nice outside, for one thing, and near Chicago, so you never quite know how long the pleasant weather will last. We seem to oscillate between blizzards and 100 degree days. The actual great outside days demand to be enjoyed whenever they appear.
My plan in it’s beginning stages is to read The Hobbit and begin what I hope will be an immersive experience. Right off the bat I can see that if I were counting this as school, I could spin these plans into some education-ese that would meet anyone’s criteria for actual learning. I think you’ll find the same feeling with any great literature. In fact, a Harry Potter Summer or Jane Austen Summer or, or, or . . . I could go on and on. Pick a world or universe that you don’t mind diving into for an extended amount of time and just dive in. After all in the words of the Ents:
When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is best!
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Jen N. – Jen has spent her time homeschooling her five children since 2001. She has read over 5,000 books aloud. A fan of all things geeky, she calls her children her horcruxes — each one has a talent for something she might have pursued herself. Jen and her husband have created a family of quirky, creative people that they are thrilled to launch out into the world. With the three oldest graduated, Jen now has time on her hands and has started a blog: www.recreationalscholar.wordpress.com