Traditions Tame the Year-Round Chaos

This week the Homeschool Blogger Front Porch writers are discussing “end of year traditions.”    It may seem this doesn’t apply to those of us who school year-round, but I think it applies double.

Here at PrairieFrog Academy, we are “do the next thing” homeschoolers.  I don’t even purposefully schedule all subjects to conclude simultaneously.  Our years don’t often have a defined beginning or end.  When we finish a spelling book I get out the next.  Traditions provide landmarks to punctuate an educational path without the mile-markers of traditional year or a consistent summer vacation schedule.

Although (and perhaps because) our school year is fluid and  more organic, recognition of completion is especially valuable in our family.

Our biggest consistent milestone is Math. Because we aren’t bound to public school timeframes or compartments it can be hard to define exactly what grade each child is in. Thus far, Math is a weaker subject for all of them. Since I can generally guarantee that their work in other areas is ahead of the number on the math book, and because math is one of the few subjects for which our curriculum has convenient grade levels assigned, I’ve let the children define their “grade” by their math book, When a child completes a full grade in math and does well on their math final, we celebrate by a lunch outing to a restaurant of their choice. (I blogged about such an outing with my eldest just this week!) It’s such fun to enjoy the one-on one time and to commemorate their accomplishments.

Learning to read is another milestone marked with much joy! When a wee PrairieFrog becomes a competent reader, they go out for a yummy treat and a jaunt to the local Bible bookstore where they pick out a full-text Bible. It seems they grow three inches on this one outing, bursting with pride at their new accomplishment and a “big” Bible of their own!

Any consumable workbooks have a unique tradition here too. Upon completion, the child does a triumphant march to the dumpster while we all cheer. It’s a fun little celebration of “out with the old, in with the new.”

In our Humanities Curriculum, we plan a “unit celebration” to recap at predictable intervals in our studies.  Because our days are full with our regular routine, I find it disruptive to weave in crafts or hands-on projects amid the flow of our usual study, so I save these fun enrichments for a “party week” at the end.  Often the children will recite a speech, read a paper or poem they’ve written or bake something from the era or lands we’ve studied.  Popcorn and a relevant movie often a highlight a “celebration week” as well.

Because our school “years” are fluid and non-traditional, culmination landmarks help us recognize what we’ve accomplished and maintain direction and excitement for continuing the journey ahead.  Traditions tame the year-round chaos.

Stay tuned this week as other Front Porch writers share their “end of year” traditions. (And please comment and share your own!)

This article was first posted this morning in my regular Taming the Chaos column on the HSB Company Porch.

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~Domestic Chaos tamer and homeschool mom of 5, Dell writes about home, heart and hearth.~

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