Summertime. where the living is easier (and summer homeschooling is easier too). Here are my top tips for making this summer in your homeschool the best yet!
To begin, let’s talk a little bit about homeschool scheduling and your homeschool year. One way to approach your summer is with year round homeschooling.
What Is Year Round Homeschooling?
Do all homeschoolers take a summer break?
Not all homeschoolers take a summer break. Some homeschool year round. In my family however, the older my kids have gotten, the more we take a break in the summer. This is because the more activities they have to be involved in.
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There are two things that have always determined our summer break.
1. The Opportunity For Summer Activities
As they’ve gotten older, my kids’ summer activities have increased. There are multiple camps that my kids can take part in, different activities they can do and different places they can go in the summertime. We’ve naturally taken longer and longer breaks in the summer.
2. The Weather
It is hot in the summer at our house. It doesn’t make sense for us to be off for a long stretch of time in the summer, because it’s just too miserable and hot to be outside. Our times off are better taken in September, October, March or April. Those are our really lovely times a year. It’s more enjoyable for us to hunker down and get some school done in the heat of the summer when we don’t want to be outside anyway.
Year round homeschooling doesn’t mean never taking a break. When I say year round homeschooling, what I’m really talking about is simply not following the traditional school schedule.
You might try to take more frequent breaks throughout the school year. You might take your longer breaks at different times. Some homeschoolers take a longer break at Christmas time. For example, I know a number of homeschoolers who take off from about mid November until about the second week of January.
Keeping all of this in mind, I do want to point out that there is something to be said about taking a little bit of a longer break in the summer – even if you’re also taking more frequent breaks throughout the school year.
Why A Summer Break Could Be Exactly What You Need
That being said, taking a little bit of extra time in the summer can be really refreshing for your homeschool.
A summer break could be exactly what you need to get your motivation back, to give yourself a bit of extra time to get some planning done, to get your homeschool year planned out, and to really get excited again about learning.
I went to public school and then I was a teacher. For me, following that cycle of learning where everything’s new and exciting in the fall, then we go through a school year, we get the break off for summer, and then everything’s new and exciting in the fall – there’s a nostalgia there.
I’m a bit of a traditionalist and enjoy the back to school excitement and motivation. There is something to be said for giving your mind a rest, giving your body a rest, taking a break, giving yourself time to catch up on some projects around the house, and giving your kids five or six weeks to rest and not have to worry about learning new concepts all the time.
Everybody talks about the summer slide and problems that come from taking too long of a break. Conversely, taking a five or six week break where you’re not having to worry about things, could give your kids minds an opportunity to ruminate on some of the things that they’ve learned and come back even a stronger on some of those concepts.
Some families, and especially families with younger kids, may feel like they start going crazy after a few weeks with unstructured activities. I understand this. I would much rather have structure. I would much rather keep doing school. I think the compromise here is to keep going with some structure.
As my good friend, Dawn Garrett says, “A change is as good as a rest.”
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Changing Up Your Summer Learning
What you can do to change things up a bit in your homeschool?
Summer is the perfect time to try a morning time with your kids, to do some fun unit studies, or to make a list of some fun unschool type activities that your kids can use to steer their own learning.
We used to go to the craft store at the beginning of the summer. I would say to my kids, “Okay, what are you interested in? What do you want to do?” We would then buy a bunch of materials and craft kits. I’d go home and put them in a basket so the kids could pick from them all summer long.
Summer is a great time to get a new puzzle, to start a new read aloud, to pull out some audio books so that your kids can listen and you can get a little bit of extra work done. All of these learning activities, the really fun ones that you never had a chance to get to during the school year, pull those out in the summertime.
You don’t want to have no structure because it makes your day go off the rails and your kids get a little squirrely, but you can have a different structure. You can change it up, do something different and have a fun summer along the way.
This will give your brain kind of the mental break it needs in order to start a new year fresh with a new perspective. I do highly encourage taking something of a summer break, even if it’s not the traditional 8, 10, or 12 weeks long, like your local school system. Resting your brain from the heavy academics, and just stepping back and taking a big deep breath with a summer schedule is a good thing.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you plan a lovely summer in your homeschool!