This will be our 3rd- wait, 2nd? No… 3rd- official summer doing homeschool. I decided after our first year which included teaching a preK pre reader curriculum and taking care of a 1 year old while pregnant with babe #3- yeah… That was a LOT- I decided to take a break from teaching lessons. Which seems reasonable, right? Except that in giving up that structured learning time, we ended up forsaking structure to our day at all. Discipline suffered, behavior suffered, sleep suffered, my sanity suffered- there was quite a bit of suffering.
So after that year, I decided that we needed to be a “year round” homeschooling family, for my sake as much as for the kids’.
So what does summer time homeschooling look like?
Well, it looks a lot like fall, winter, and spring. That is to say, when I purchase a curriculum, I pace it so that we’re only doing lessons 4 days a week- 5 days was brutal! But, that means our curriculum lasts all year and I can supplement it with various free online resources as I need to.
But during the summer, we do less “boring work” and more fun work, usually outside. Speaking of outside, meet our 3-legged frog named Geoff!… Long story for another post.
What about breaks? We take a lot of breaks. I’ve noticed with the kids that they go through cycles of learning. They will hyper focus for about 2-3 weeks at a time and then they get sick of new teaching. So, that’s when we take a weeklong break. It typically aligns with the county’s school calendar, and since we do 1 week breaks as opposed to 2 for Christmas and long weekends for frivolous federal holidays, it all pretty much evens out. Our state requirements for attendance are at least 4 hours per day for 180 days. We definitely meet that requirement so I don’t fuss too much about keeping the public school schedule- I mean, that’s one of the selling points of homeschooling right? Setting your own schedule? So I appreciate that freedom.
In the summer then, we do 2 weeks on, 1 weeks off. This also means that I try to plan visits from family or “field trips” during our “off” weeks. That keeps the kids entertained and in some semblance of structure without the rigidity of formal lessons.
During the summer, I scale back the intensity of math and reading to focus on maintaining skills and try to let the kids be outside as much as possible. Hey, I wanna enjoy the nice weather too! We do a lot more reading aloud from classics in the summer, over teaching new material. This is just as productive as it teaches them new vocabulary, and I try to select literature that helps instill virtue or positive character traits.
With all the reading, I also put together lap books for them as we go. This is an awesome hands on way to engage the kids in the story and help them retain what we have read.
We also do a lot of canning and preserving as the garden produce ripens, which means our math is usually done in the kitchen. Especially as they get older, they’re able to help more so I include them in measuring, timing, and all things involved in following a recipe. So they’re doing math as well as building valuable life skills, messy and imprecise though they may be.
My plans for this summer include doing some Little House books with lap books, a potential visit to Ripley’s aquarium, visiting UT Gardens, and a possible field trip to Crockett Tavern, ad much as we are able with our goats, who will be arriving in July. There are lots of historical and educational places in my area of Appalachia, so I try to incorporate them into our lessons.
When you take all of that and combine it with our warm weather homestead projects and just generally keeping house, it turns out to be a full summer, a productive summer, but not overwhelming, which of course is the goal.
In the fall, we pick back up with reading, math, and for my oldest in 1st grade, we’ll be doing spelling and primer Latin- exciting, right? We’ll see. In the meantime, I forsee lots of reading under the maple tree, popsicles, and fresh-off-the-bush berries this summer.