Kids look forward to summer like I look forward to a bowl of ice cream. They love it! It’s free time, friend time, and no school time! Luckily, as homeschoolers, it does not mean the end of learning.
I love homeschooling through the summer, but I’ve found that with neighbor children always wanting to play and a more relaxed schedule, we don’t get through all of our subjects. So here are several ways that I’ve found work for a fun summer, while still learning amazing things.
ONLY COVER THE ESSENTIALS
This is one of my favorite methods, especially during the early years. Keep it simple for you and the kids, choose one subject to continue over the summer. I like to choose reading when they are younger. I hate it when I spend so much time teaching them to read during the school year only to have a lot of it forgotten over the summer. We continue with our curriculum so that they don’t lose what they’ve learned and we read a lot of books.
As a bonus in the reading category, I set a reading challenge each summer. A lady in my neighborhood started this a few years back and I love it. I actually loved it so much I have now included it in our homeschool group! We are challenged to read 20 books per person over the summer and in the end, there is some sort of reward. This year, we are going to have an ice cream party. Some ideas for a reward are movie night, costume party (come dressed as your favorite book character), pool or splash pad, or a trip to the zoo.
If you have an older child, I would choose either a subject that they are struggling with, so they get the added reinforcement without the burden of other subjects or one that they are passionate about and want to pursue.
Homemaking days are days where you show your home some love. Cleaning, fixing, and redecorating with the whole family. I do this on a weekly basis, but it’s a great opportunity to get the kids involved in home ec and character development. I’m a huge believer in letting kids work and encouraging them to do hard things.
Homemaking days can also include skills like organizing, sewing, cooking, and gardening. It teaches them how to create a beautiful home.
This is a great time for the kids to learn entrepreneurial skills! Learning to take something from idea to business is such a thrill. There is also so much to teach in this category. Money skills like counting back change, balancing a checkbook or bank statement, profit/loss, etc. They can learn how to accept or rebut a no answer. Creating an inventory.
I’ve found that kids usually want to sell and are naturals at it. However, when my kids have decided on something they want to sell they want to do it that day – no planning and no being prepared. Having a summer of only learning to be an entrepreneur helps me teach them preparation, management, sales, and money skills.
This is a favorite of mine as well and I try to incorporate it every chance I get. Get them out in nature! Buy a field guide and take them for hikes. Look for wildlife and learn to identify sounds and footprints. See how many trees they can identify. Better yet, get an herbal guide and see how many herbs you can identify in the wild and then learn how to use them.
I like to teach directions to my kids. As we are driving or out walking I’ll call out “Which way are we going?” and they have to answer with north, south, east, or west. Introduce maps. With google maps taking over the world, paper maps are somewhat of a relic but we still have a need for them. I remember when I was younger we have a map of the states in the car. As we were traveling we would get the map out and my dad would ask what highway we were on, how far until a certain city, etc. It was fun for us! I don’t know about your kids, but my kids love maps! They pick one up every time we go somewhere that has them. They have also made their own treasure maps.
Camping is another great resource! Making fires, meal planning, planning for weather. Even if it’s just in the backyard. There is so much to be learned from nature and summer is a great time to learn it.
How fun would a summer of field trips be? We also call them day trips, because those are the days that my husband can come with us. Also, because I have a toddler that does not do well in the car and this is our way of getting out within his limits.
We gather a list of places that we would like to go and every Saturday we choose a place. We live in Utah and have a Utah State Parks pass so a lot of times that will dictate where we go. Sometimes we choose a place because we want to show the kids a bit of history. An example is a trip we recently took to Soda Springs, Idaho. We talked about the ruts in the ground that are still there from the wagons on the Oregon Trail. We saw a geyser and drank soda water. Then experimented with the water by adding different flavors and compared.
As much as I like to organize, some kids need time away from things like electronics, games, friends, etc. I’m not saying take it away completely (because that would be cruel) but allow them to get bored for a while. Boredom breeds creativity. They start to get into things (think mess-making) and start creating. You might have some wood, nails, and measuring tools on hand and look out the window to find a new table in your backyard, or maybe a fort. Have some paint supplies on hand and you might find new artwork hung around your house. Oh, it may not start that way. It may start with a little whining and a lot of pushback, but over time their creativity comes out.
Or, if they are like me, they might curl up for hours (days…months…) and read books. Lots and lots of books. It’s okay. Let them find something for themselves that was not handed to them. Let them explore and take charge!
Kids naturally want to learn, and it’s best when they don’t realize they are learning! Bookwork has a place, but learning doesn’t stop just because it is summer.
How do you take advantage of your summer learning?