Summer Activities: Catholic Homeschooling
Can you believe it is already March of 2022? It seems like we were just celebrating Christmas. Golly, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that it’s the 21st century.
Time moves swiftly, and though it is still early in the Spring semester, summer break will be here before you know. That means it is not too early to start thinking about summer enrichment activities for your family and your Catholic homeschool.
“Summer homeschooling!?” you say. “Why would I homeschool over summer? What about the break part of summer break?”
Don’t worry, nobody wants to deprive you of your summer break! But the breathing space of summer does offer wonderful opportunities for exploring Catholic homeschooling at a more leisurely pace. This is time to put your roots down and reconnect with the fun of homeschooling, the pursuit of educational endeavors that thrive on creativity, curiosity, and exploration.
Arts, Crafts, and Gardening
There are many ways to punctuate your summer break with creative activities that will be fun and enriching. How about all those crafting projects you imagined doing with your kids but never seem to have time for? Or introducing your children to a new hobby? I got my daughter a wood-burning kit one Christmas, and whenever she has time off school she loves doing wood burning. You can also use the time to explore different styles of art. It doesn’t need to be too involved; every week do an art hour where the children learn a little bit about an artistic medium or style and then try it out for themselves.
In my household I let my kids do summer flower gardens. They each have a dedicated space to grow whatever flowers they wish. They learn about the various types of flowers, then we all go to the nursery together and get seeds. We all weed our gardens together, prep the soil, and plant the seeds. Then the kids all have responsibilities weeding and watering the gardens throughout the summer as the flowers begin to bloom.
Crafting, art, gardening…it all sounds fun, but are all these really forms of education? Absolutely! If it is teaching your child a skill or giving them information about the world, its education. And it is precisely this sort of leisurely, hands-on education that suits summer break so well.
Aristotle says that human beings, by nature, desire to know. Learning is driven by curiosity—a sense of wonder at the world and a desire to understand why things are the way they are. This innate curiosity is strong in children and is your best friend when it comes to learning! At the outset of summer, ask your children what kind of subjects they are curious about, and then use the summer months to feed that curiosity. This can take any number of forms. It may mean taking a trip to the library to bring home a stack of interesting books and videos to be browsed through on lazy summer afternoons. It could mean doing some summer science experiments or digging the telescope out of the attic to do some stargazing. Find out what your child is sincerely curious about and find ways to feed that curiosity. Don’t underestimate the power of curiosity; curiosity has driven explorers and scientists to the most important discoveries in human history. It is a powerful motivator for learning.
Homeschool Connections offers a variety of summer classes each year that cater to students’ curiosities. Summer courses are briefer and generally have a lower workload than regular semester classes. And, the best part is, they tend to be focused on more “outside the box” subjects; for example, this summer HSC is offering courses on Minecraft coding, pirates, JRR Tolkien, ticks (!), and many more subjects to pique your children’s curiosity. Check out this link to view our live Catholic online courses available for the summer of 2022.
Explorational Road Tripping
Summer, of course, is an ideal time for travel. Why not use some of that travel time for educational exploration? Throw the kids in the minivan, pack a cooler, and hit the open road. Here are some ideas for educational road tripping:
State and national parks are ideal ways to get out into the wild and learn about the world we live in. Besides being an immersion in nature that is good for the soul, almost all parks these days feature educational material to help visitors learn about local flora and fauna.
Historical sites can be fun getaways to learn about local history. This could mean battlefields or archaeological sites, but it can also be visiting historic buildings or neighborhoods. Most towns in America, even small ones, have historical societies that maintain modest museums chronicling the history of the town’s founding and growth. History really is everywhere you look and provides a wonderful opportunity for learning on the road.
Museums of art, history, or science are always a welcome getaway. I always enjoy driving my kids down to Detroit and spending the afternoon wandering around the marbled halls of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Publicly owned museums (such as those affiliated with a state university) often have free admission.
Roadside oddities are a staple of American life. I’m talking about those bizarre tourist attractions advertised from a thousand billboards across America’s interstates. In Michigan, we have the Cheboygan Sea Shell Museum featuring a giant man-eating clam; we also have Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, featuring a huge collection of coin-operated animatronic dummies, mechanical games, and other oddities. And there are so many more! A search of your own state will turn up many such roadside oddities that are fun, educational, and memorable.
Oh, and since we are Catholic homeschoolers, why not tag on a visit to a beautiful Catholic Church to your day out?
Learning is Everywhere
Homeschooling in the summer is an opportunity to recall that learning is everywhere. It need not take place solely in the context of a class or a book or a Catholic homeschool program; simply getting out into the world and enjoying life is an educational experience.