As summer approaches, one of the big debates is whether or not to do summer school. There are good thoughts on both sides of the conversation. I’ve personally done both depending on our schedules.
The benefits to summer homeschooling are obvious:
- Continued learning
- Limited time to forget to great information previously learned
- Time to focus on a few extra interesting topics
- Helpful for subjects that need a little more attention and rhythm
The benefits to taking summer off are obvious, too:
- Enjoying some time off to regroup, plan, and prepare for next fall
- Space to allow the previously learned information to sink in and soak for a while
- Time to spend doing fun things not closely associated with a school subject
- Time to rest, to slow things down for a little while, and allow for a new rhythm
My husband and I find ourselves amazed at how out-of-whack our kids seem on days we haven’t spent at least some time doing brain-engaging work. Whether it be table work, time reading quietly, or listening to an audio CD on a long car ride, our kids just kind of disengage and get a little irritable. It’s as if the part of their brain that processes information is the same part that regulates their nice-ness. (This is my opinion formed in the fires of real life, everyone. I’m not a psychologist. So, don’t quote me on that!) Are we the only ones like this?
Like I said before, we have tried schooling all summer and we have also tried taking the summers off entirely. This year, we are doing a combination of both. We are traveling for a number of weeks scattered throughout the summer. So, we are definitely taking those weeks off of school. But the weeks we are home, we will be doing a modified school day. During these modified days, I plan to break up the subjects each month. For example, the weeks we are home in June, we will work on some creative writing skills and perhaps a fun math workbook each day. The weeks we are home in July, we will work on our new foreign language (in fun ways, like learning songs and labeling items around our house, making maps of our community, and other activities to get more vocabulary stuffed into our brains), read and act out a fun play, and a little more math each day. And finally, a week before our new school year starts, we will take off of everything for an entire week so that our first day back feels like a big deal.
Based on our travel schedule, we will have a short count-down to end our current year (5 more days of school, everyone!!!!). This seems to help the kids know there is an actual end to their fifth-grade year, for example, and that they’ve met their goals and completed things. (Our state does not require end of the year reporting or testing, so it easy for things to get muddled as to when we are finished or not.) Then, when we come home for our trip, I will set things out the night before and make a big deal about launching our summer school topics.
Most of my summer learning is focused on areas that I have felt we were weak in during the previous year or new subjects that I would like to establish a foundation for before we start (e.g. foreign language). I like to find ways that don’t feel like textbooks or table-work but still allow us to keep learning. I expect our modified school days to take just a little time each morning if it’s focused work (like getting that math workbook done) or perhaps most of the day (if we find ourselves driving around designing our map of the community in French).
What do your summers look like? Are you year-round schooling or do you like to count down the days until you’re done?
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.
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