Homeschooling Throughout the Summer

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Written by Beth Corcoran, Contributing Writer

When I tell people that we homeschool year round, I usually get one of two responses.  I often hear from homeschooling families, “Oh, we try to do that, too.”  And then I often hear, “Why on earth would you do that to yourself and your poor kids?”

Well, don’t feel too sorry for my kids.  They are managing just fine.  In fact, summer time is our favorite time of the year to do school. Let me tell you all about it.

What Our Family Does During School Time

During the summer, I let my kids choose the subjects they want to study. We still do math and reading every day, but anything else we do is delight directed.  I have 6 kids, ages 9 and under.

Right now, we are doing something called Hero Training Camp.  It’s a fantastic VBS type program that focuses on strengthening your conscience to do what is right.  We are also working through Opal Wheeler’s Great Musician series.  Our kids really love those books.

When We Work

During the summer we have a much more laid back approach to our schedule than we do during the school year. Here in Oklahoma, it’s been over 100 degrees each day for who knows how long.  It’s just awful outside.  So the kids can only go out to play first thing in the morning and then late in the evening.  During the rest of the day, we are inside the house or off running errands.  We just do school when we can.

The Benefits of Homeschooling Throughout the Summer

I do not claim to be a homeschooling expert.  I have only been doing it for three years now.  However, it became very obvious to me early on that the traditional school-free summer was not going to work for our family. Instead, we have seen many great benefits in schooling year round.

(Note: Even if you do not homeschool your children throughout the regular school year, these concepts can still be applied to your family.)

Structure

Homeschooling throughout the summer has provided more structure for our days.  We typically aren’t too rigid during the summer because I love to be able to drop what we are doing to meet friends at the park, and so forth.

But, the kids have some predictability in their schedule and that really helps. It is especially helpful if you have children like some of mine who have a real need for predictable patterns.  My kids know to expect “field trips” each week such as library time on Mondays, farmer’s market on Wednesdays, etc.

Valuing Learning

When the traditional school year was created, it served a purpose.  Much of America was rural at that point, and the children couldn’t be expected to be in school during planting through harvest time.  They were needed at home to work.  Although we live in a far less agrarian society, the typical August-May school year has become a cultural norm.

But our family got to thinking about this norm.  What does it teach our children about the value of work and learning?  We wanted our kids to see that there is the possibility to learn in everything we do.  We never have to take a vacation from learning. And finally, we didn’t want our kids to believe that school and learning were so boring and tedious that they had to take three months off from it each year.

So my husband and I try to teach our kids that it is important to work hard at whatever we do.  And we can learn about our world and still enjoy it, too.

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Photo credit: natashalcd

Less Stress

Homeschooling throughout the year has been great for relieving pressure to get everything done.  Since I have extra months in my school year, I don’t feel the need to fret if we have to skip school days here and there because of illness or behavior issues.

Also, because we have spread out our time, we can take more breaks throughout the year.  If we are feeling worn down, we can take a week off of school if need be.  I do, however, understand that this may not be the case in some areas where the homeschooling rules are tighter than they are here in Oklahoma.

Better Retention

Do you remember when you were a kid and you went back to school in August only to have forgotten everything you were taught the previous year?  Flipping through my kids’ school books shows me that it is pretty much expected that kids will have forgotten a good portion of the material over the summer.  It seems that the first half of a lot of books are geared towards review.

By continuing with the lessons and the drilling throughout the summer, kids don’t forget what they learned previously. Most of the time, we end up just skipping the first half of the textbooks since we don’t need the extra review.  Instead, we are able to spend more time on working through new concepts.

More Fun!

During the summer, it seems there are many more opportunities to teach our children creatively.  There are reading programs at the library, outdoor festivals, farmer’s markets, and all kinds of fun activities. (When it’s not 110 degrees, of course!) When I am actively searching for educational things to do with my kids, we are more likely to incorporate a lot of what our community has to offer.

We do try to take a vacation each summer, and we try to make our vacation something where intentional learning will take place.  This year, we went to Yellowstone National Park.  It was a very fun time, and on top of having an enjoyable trip, we were able to effortlessly turn it into a lesson about volcanoes and wildlife.

Learning can happen anywhere, especially if we are intentional. This is true year round, but the summer seems to have so much extra to offer.

So, if you’ve ever thought about summer schooling, I want to encourage you that it is really not scary.  In fact, it has been quite a blessing for my children and for me.  The schooling time can be quite formal or quite relaxed—whatever works for your family dynamic.  It’s really just about turning the fun activities of summer into intentional times of learning.

Do you school throughout the summer?  What does your family do?

Top photo credit: wsh1266

About Beth Corcoran

I am the mother of four children (wait- make that six as of recently!)—two girls and two boys, ages 7, 6, 5, and 2 ½. While not homeschooling or chauffeuring the kids to their activities, I enjoy all kinds of craft projects and learning how to be a better steward of all that the Lord has given me. My blog is Stewardship Not Convenience.

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Comments

  1. We school year round and it offers us the flexibility to travel the country visiting family or taking vacations in the off season. We wouldn’t change it for anything.

  2. Thank you for sharing how you spend summers with your family. I am new to homeschooling but have a teaching background. I also was brought to thinking about why summer breaks were created and realized that children used to use that time to help their families in the harvest or planting. So it made me think about all the children this summer who were complaining of being bored with nothing to do because they were supposed to be on summer “vacation” from school. So I created a schedule for myself and my children where we would keep the time schedule of the school year (meaning going to bed as usual and getting up as usual) but adding purpose and fun learning to each day. No more “lazy days of summer” for us. I created a chart of the daily schedule like I would in a my classroom and my children love knowing that there is a rhythm to our day. When we forget, we check the chart to see what we should be doing. We do learning of things my children are interested in and do our trips to the library. Of course, I made the schedule flexible because we are still doing swim class, basketball at the park district, and vacation time out of town. I love it. I also incorporate chores, gardening, and cooking so they understand that all that counts as learning too. As we begin to transition into a homeschooling family, I love the idea of teaching them year round but taking breaks when needed. I’m very excited. Thanks again for this article.

  3. We homeschool throughout the whole year. However, we only do a 4 day school week (Monday-Thursday). The kids love having 3 days off every week and it ends up giving just a few extra days to the school year.

  4. Thanks. I’m online this morning b/c I’m feeling discouraged. Last night in my small group everyone shared what their plans were for their kids this summer. All of them have jam-packed schedules, summer camps, trips planned. Me? No family trips planned (we did one in Mar this yr). We have no budget to send our kids to camps, unlike most of our friends who are double income families. I need to recognize the difference in our lifestyle during the whole year and learn to rejoice in the summer as a different season of hs’ing.

    • Kristen don’t be discouraged. We could choose to fill our summer fuller than it is but I don’t want our kids to be that crazy busy. We love to spend time together, picking strawberries, blueberries, laying in the hammock, going to each other’s (few) events. And, you have every day to spend with your kids instead of working two jobs. You have made great choices for your family. Be proud! :)

    • I agree, don’t be discouraged. There are lots of fun “free” things to do. Our family enjoys visiting the library, running through the sprinkler, visiting the beach nearby and using the sandtoys, going to the park, finding a hiking or biking trail nearby, having a snack or picnic outside nearby or far, etc….and you know what, when I think back to MY happiest childhood memories, those are the kinds of things that I remember most and had the most fun with! Being at home with your children is well worth it!!!

  5. A little different perspective on homeschooling year ’round. We don’t do any traditional schooling during the summer months (“bookwork”) throughout the summer. But we garden and can heavily during these months and the children are an integral part of that. The many of the hours that normally would be filled with more formal education during the dreary winter months are filled with hands-on life skills learning. We also participate in our library’s summer reading program and will occassionally play some games to keep fresh on math facts. This adds the much-needed structure to our day, fills my children’s time with constructive activity and teaches them life skills (like cooking, gardening, etc) that we struggle to fit in during the busy-ness of the school months. And it gives this busy mommy a break from lesson planning/work sheet checking, etc. :-)

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