Enjoying the Summer: Homeschool Style
Spring was spent in quarantine, and all of a sudden, it’s June! We even finished our homeschool year a few weeks early, because we spent so much more time at home than usual!
Did summer sneak up on you, too?
Usually, we are ready for our summer break from homeschool groups and some of our extracurricular activities. But we have had quite a break already.
Summer seems like it will be different this year, and I was feeling a little lost on how to spend our days. Then I remembered three keys that have helped us in the past.
Homeschooling in the summer by focusing on reading, learning, and creating has always brought us joy. These are, admittedly, things we do all year long, but in the summer, we enjoy them in a more relaxed way, often with ice cream!
If you take a summer break of any length, I invite you to join me in resisting the temptation to schedule every hour and instead to find easy ways to add meaningful fun to our days!
Our libraries are still doing summer reading programs, but if yours aren’t, consider creating your own or using one of the free ones available online. And Mom should join in the reading challenge, too! Even if we don’t read as many hours as our children log, they delight in our participation.
Plan a reading time every day, maybe right after breakfast or during nap time. Read aloud to the kids. Put on an audiobook (that totally counts!). Pop a bowl of popcorn and have everyone bring a book to the living room or into a tent in the backyard!
Spending time in the world of books gives us opportunities to go places and experience so many wonderful things. We get to know characters as friends and learn essential life lessons. Good books entertain and inspire us!
Give your kids a booklist and challenge them to read a certain number of books. Discuss with them what types of books they would like to read and help them make a book bucket list for the summer! Here is a fabulous booklist from Homeschool Connections.
Then, share what you are reading with your family. Talk about what’s happening in your book at the dinner table. Ask them about their books. Which character are they most like? What would they have done differently than the lead character? Conversations connect us.
Stop. Please don’t make detailed lesson plans for your children to get through if you’re taking a summer break. Let it be a break from school. Instead ask your children what they would like to learn about, and make a list. Gather resources from your shelves and the library. Look up some websites for them to explore. Bookmark some educational videos or movies to watch.
Then, every Monday set a goal to learn something new. Keep it simple. Just set aside a little time to learn something new, ideally together.
Especially for tweens or teens, summer is the perfect chance to learn something that interests them that doesn’t quite fit into their homeschooling year. Borrow some materials from a friend or sign them up for an online class. Encourage their excitement about learning, even if the content seems pointless to you. These lessons are more about finding the joy in learning and igniting curiosity in young minds!
Summer is the also the perfect time for the entire family to learn more about our Catholic faith. There are a few Catholic at-home Vacation Bible School options available online. Older kids will enjoy watching nationally known Catholic speakers on YouTube. Does your parish have a subscription to Formed? They have videos, studies, and more for all ages. Choose something about our faith that you are interested in learning about, and invite your kids to join you!
This is the easy one. Kids usually cannot stop themselves from creating if they have materials!
If they love Legos, challenge them to build a city. If they love crafts, set up a designated area for that mess to live. If they love dirt, give them shovels and a bag of dirt! Get out the paints and the playdough. Cook together. Tend a garden. Make cards for relatives.
There is so much joy to be found in making something! And we learn a lot about ourselves and the process of creating, too. We learn how to adapt when things don’t turn out the way we expected. We learn pride in making beauty and order, because it echoes the Creator’s creativity!
Cut up some paper and write different creative projects on each slip. Stuff them in a jar and pull one out every few days. Invite your kids to help you with ideas, and include a few zany ones like making a person out of food and dressing up as another family member. Remember that the goal is joy!
Reading, learning, and creating aren’t new to homeschooling families. We do all these things throughout the school year. But taking the time to do these in a fun and enjoyable way, together as a family, can breathe life into the rest of the year, too! I have found that this approach renews our excitement for schooling and helps me to plan a school year that better fits my kids as I get to know their preferences and interests more.
Don’t forget to make time for water balloon fights and trips to the pool (if yours is open), too! Eat watermelon and popsicles. Build forts and play video games. But try to do many of these things together. Because summer fun is about family and friends as much as it is about the break from schoolwork.