Using Summer Camps As School Days

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Depending on where you live, you might have to show for 180 days of school. Homeschoolers love their freedom, but most believe following the law of the land is extremely important. In Tennessee, we must turn in an attendance record with 180 days of school, made up of at least four hours of learning each.

Tunes and Tales cloggers and girl

My daughter wanted a picture with the cloggers from Tunes and Tales.

That’s right. No matter where you register – with your local school district or an umbrella school – you must keep a record of your school days every year. It’s really not that hard. Everywhere you register, they will hand you a form, so you don’t have to scour the internet for the best and most appropriate attendance sheet.  Continue reading »

You can fill it out daily, at the end of the month, or whenever. Some people I know just check off dates until they get to 180. Personally, I fill it out twice a year: once at the end of the first semester, during the Christmas holidays, and then at the end of the year. If I feel ambitious, I may check in with it three or four times but it’s not a time-consuming activity.

Sometimes parents who are thinking about homeschooling might be intimidated by the administration of the whole process. Don’t be. It’s not hard to homeschool. Record-keeping may not be your forte, but how hard can it be to check boxes on a form? And how long does it take? Five minutes?

What’s really exciting is that you start seeing learning opportunities in everything and then you relax. You got this. It’s very easy to get 180 days in between July and May.

This year, I realized that summer camps can be used as school days for the following school year, thus taking off the pressure I may be tempted to feel to “produce” 180 days of school. Not that we don’t have enough curriculum to come up with that amount of learning time.

But isn’t it nice to know we start school on Day 21? My children attended a 5-day String Camp, a 4-day Soccer Camp, and a 5-day Science Camp this summer. That’s 14 days right there. Then, one attended a 5-day Adventure Camp with lots of physical education activities, crafts, music and Bible education. The other one attended a 4-day Princess Camp with tumbling, music, crafts and dance lessons.

While our son was at Adventure Camp, we told our daughter she was in “Mommy Camp,” so she would not get too upset. Adventure Camp is for ages 7-9 and it was just too hard for her five-year-old mind to accept that she did not get to go. So I took her places around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg – lots of field trips – and then we read a lot, too. Could I count those days as school? Sure. Will I count those days? Nah. I will just consider them my memory-making days with her.

With all the daily reading and music practice that we do, one could argue every day of the summer vacation was “school day” but I will not go there. I will just consider 20 days of learning toward the next school year. This relieves me of the pressure to start this week or on August 1. We will probably start on the 15th.

Thoughtful Thursday Week 24 – Completion

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Learning never ends, but school years do. After 180 days of school, we were happy to take our children out for a nice lunch at The Wild Plum Tea Room and give them their Certificates of Completion. Our son finished first grade, and our daughter Pre-Kindergarten.

We would like to go to the same restaurant every year for this event, but maybe that’s not necessary. Maybe every year we will feel like trying a different place. Who knows what the future will bring?


But The Wild Plum was a great choice for this year. They serve their delicious orange tea and many healthy choices.

Too bad it is not exactly man food. Our principal was not too fond of their menu, but we made it through and had a good time as a family (and school).  Continue reading »

Just for reference: in our homeschool, there really is not a big difference between Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten, but we had to give it a different name to make sure our daughter felt special, too. Last year, she finished Preschool. This year, it was something different.

A lot of her books are not finished, partly because we bought too many, and also because they are meant for any schoolwork done before First Grade. As such, we will continue with much of the same materials as she starts Kindergarten in August, but we will add Phonics. Later in the year, we will add handwriting and Right Start Mathematics.

It feels good to be finished. We need to mark the end of the 180 days of learning in order to feel the sentence has come to a full-stop. Or a period. Or an exclamation point. Done! Check. Summer can begin.

The trouble is, our first week of summer vacation was super busy with swim lessons, our daughter starting violin lessons outside the home, art workshops at the library for the summer reading program, and so on. The good news is we will slow down after next week, when we have soccer camp. July promises to be less scheduled. More time to truly rest and breathe. Looking forward to it.