SummaryYou may be surprised to find how summer homeschooling can be a joy. Care to try a few of Amanda Evinger’s ideas for relaxed and creative summer learning?
Recently, I’ve experienced a stellar surprise—I’ve discovered how inspiring it is to homeschool during the summer.
I’ve found that people’s claims that doing some school work during the summer is dreadfully boring and stifling are just not true, at least not for our family.
By having a fun hour or two of learning each day, topped with plenty of leisurely reading, I’ve unearthed a few of my children’s hidden talents, taken a load off of the work for the upcoming school year (majorly de-stressing this Mama!), and clued in on the secret key to helping my children get over learning hurdles.
As the French would say, ‘Tres bon’!
With my oldest going into second grade in the fall, I decided to ask her input on which subjects she’d like to tackle during June. She chose Science, as well as a non-core subject, Social Studies. I also challenged her to take some time to work on her reading skills, which, thus far, has been her most daunting academic challenge.
I was very relieved to see that, because of the relaxed, kick-back style of our summer schedule and its minimal work, she was able to tackle learning to read well, and with more fervor than I ever imagined she could muster. She also learned to sight read piano music, which is something she’s been wanting to do for a long time.
I believe that the flexible schedule of summertime and the “free spirit” of the season was able to help her relax enough to realize her deep-down desire to play piano.
I now believe that the atmosphere of summertime is an ideal time for children to work on their weaknesses all around—in character, in study and in virtue.
God speaks to the heart in subtle but profound ways in the midst of the summer sun!
That being said, I’d like to provide a list of great ways to make homeschooling a true joy during the summer months:
- Have “poetry and picnic” lunches. Find a beautiful spot outside and bring along a few of your favorite poetry books to read in the quiet of nature. The kids will love it!
- Allow “free learning” and “free reading” times. I like to set the timer and tell the kids, “Ok, kiddos, learn!” This allows them a structured amount of time to learn freely and find something they’d love to know more about, experiment with, or create. I’ve been amazed at what they do with this time. Likewise, I set the timer and encourage the kids to take a stack of books and sit on the porch or in some other unique spot and read away. I like to give rewards for older children who read to younger children—they deserve it!
- Ask your kids if they want to write their own book over the summer. This month, my daughter and I wrote a Catholic version of the “Adventures of Amelia Bedelia” (with our family members incorporated into the story). It was a blast!
- Garden, garden, garden! Not enough can be said about the matchless spiritual, nutritional and educational opportunities tending a garden can provide. Canning is a unique learning adventure as well!
- Ask Grandma or Grandpa to spend some time with the kids, sharing what they know about the history of our Faith and our nation. Your children are guaranteed to reap plenty of amazing information!
- Have them make a playhouse outside, using their math skills to make square corners, etc.
- Talk to your local librarian about hosting a reading contest with prizes during the summer, and make sure you can choose which books your children will be able to read. We have done this a couple of years in a row, and my children have won brand new bikes, a camera, and more. About fifty percent of the books they read are Catholic, which not only nourishes their faith, but gives a witness to the librarian as well.
- Integrate “school” in creative ways into your summer vacation. Scope out places as you travel that would be fascinating to tour, such as a rock quarry, national park, fish hatchery, historical site, shrine, children’s museum, or state museum.
- Have your children go on nature walks and make up leaf, insect and rock collections and identify what they have found. Contact your state game and fish department to see if they have some free posters or brochures on which creatures live in your local area.
- If local laws permit, consider getting some chickens this summer. Taking care of them will make memories, not to mention nourishing family meals.
And in all things, let’s remember that bringing our children to love Christ in this world and the next is the ultimate end of all of our homeschooling endeavors—even things like “summer school.”
As St. John Bosco once said,
“The school was not the end; it was rather the instrumental means for improving the way of life.”