Ahhh… summer! Warm weather, trips to the pool, vacations to the beach, out of school…
Yes, for many of us homeschoolers, summer doesn’t necessarily mean “no school”. Homeschoolers have the flexibility to choose the level of education they wish to do during the summer months, as they do the rest of the year. And every homeschool family does it differently. Some families school straight through the summer, some take some breaks but continue to school some as well, and other families take the summer off completely.
We do the combination approach.
That means we do some school, but we also take some time off – and when we are doing school in the summer, it usually looks a bit different from the rest of the year.
One of the things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility to be able to school when we want and take breaks when we want, throughout the year. That means that when family comes in for the holidays, we take a break. And when we feel like taking a fall trip to enjoy the mountains, we can. If there is a great homeschooling deal or outing in the spring, we go. But, for us, that flexibility means that we school some throughout the summer months as well, so that we can still get everything accomplished that we need to do, and so the kids don’t forget the information they have learned. (And, maybe, to convince this Type-A personality mama that we are still making progress?)
Our schooling does change, though, in the summer. Whereas during the traditional school year months we are pretty disciplined about our academics, during the summer months we tend to be a lot more flexible. We have a number of breaks for vacation, camp, Vacation Bible School at church, and special visits for each child (alone) to their extended family in another town. In between those events, we do keep the academics going, but school is much less rigorous than during the rest of the year.
We’ve learned a number of ways to make this “combination” summer homeschooling approach work for us. Although during the traditional school year our schedule is fairly routine and structured (helped along by the fact that we are involved in a homeschooling co-op during that time), it is not uncommon for each week of summer homeschooling to look different from any other one. Summer homeschooling, for us, tends to be more relaxed, more fun, and more creative across the board.
Here are just a few of the different ways combination summer homeschooling can look:
- Keep up your regular school-year academic work unless on vacation or engaged in an alternate summer outing.
- Review what has been learned over the previous year rather than introducing new concepts.
- Use vacations, trips, and summer outings as the basis for academic learning (geography based on the places traveled, science based on ocean creatures, writing based on vacation experiences, etc.).
- Do a unit study, especially if you do not normally use unit studies. Consider unit studies by Amanda Bennett for one-week and four-week options that can work for the summer.
- Spend one or two days of each week doing “regular” academic work, and the rest of the week doing creative projects (sewing, art, science, etc.).
- Create a lapbook on a subject that is interesting to your students, or to review a particular subject’s learning throughout the previous year. For examples, see Home School in the Woods.
- Spend significant time reading aloud to students; choose books that reinforce concepts learned throughout the year (“living books”) and use them to review and cement learning.
- Do a shortened period of academic work each day. Maybe Math and Science are done on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Reading, Writing, and History are done on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Use the extra time in the day for fun activities or outings.
- Study a subject of interest that you do not normally cover during the year (typing, a new language, debate, etc.).
- Have children do academic work the majority of the week, and then mentor with an adult in an area of interest one day a week.
- Reduce academic time each week enough to incorporate time for children to participate in service projects.
- Sign students up for classes (through homeschooling co-ops, online, libraries, other homeschool families, etc.) so they can receive instruction from a source different than their normal homeschool situation.
- Explore an area of the student’s interest and talent (such as drama, art, and music) and have him create an original composition of some type (a play, sculpture, musical, etc.) that summarizes what he has learned in a particular area. An example of what this could look like is the song “Vote Like That” created at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.
No matter your approach, remember that as a homeschooler, you are not a slave to the school year! Let the summer months work for you so you can develop options that work for your unique family’s needs. Summer homeschooling can be valuable time to teach academics, inculcate values, and develop relationships with your kids. Just don’t forget one of the biggest advantages of all of summer homeschooling…