Simple Homeschooling: Ideas for Summer Learning

Whether you technically homeschool or not, you definitely homeschool in the summer when your children are home. And if your homeschooling has an “end”, you’re confused.

I basically dislike the term “school” because school starts and stops. Education though, is constant, all day, every day.

So even when formal school is out, we can actively nudge our children toward a well-rounded education, which includes all of life, and summer is a great time for that. (And if you’re longing for a more relaxed approach to homeschooling, you have to read Think Outside the Classroom.)

Here are some random ideas to get you thinking:

  • Require personal reading. This one is obvious. But if you have a child who despises reading, perhaps you could encourage him with a contest or trips to the library or even a reward of some sort for meeting a goal.
  • Read aloud each night. If a family makes it a habit to sit down each night (turning off the tv) and read aloud from a biography or adventure book or whatever the interests are, it is a wonderful springboard for further learning and discussion, plus it builds good memories. I fear families do not read together enough and miss a really bonding experience.

“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”
~Marilyn Jager Adams

  • Work on a problem area. Summer is a great time to work more intently on a particular skill/subject if you feel your child is struggling.
  • Get them writing. Thank you notes, notes to a lonely, sick or hurting friend, letters to grandparents–encourage your children to write; not only is it an important skill to hone, but it’s important you teach them to think beyond themselves and minister in ways that are readily available to them.
  • Help them start a summer home-business. It can be simple, and it may be one of the most beneficial things they learn for the future. Deliberate attention from you could help foster an entrepreneurial spirit to carry them in their adult life. (Where to start? What do they like to do? Let them prepare products (food, crafts, cards, etc.) in preparation to sell them for Christmas.)

(For more gift/business ideas, here are some things we’ve done: washer necklaces, stenciled canvas pillows, homemade skin products)

  • Take a trip around the world. Well not literally, but consider diving into geography from a fun, relaxed angle. Cook up some ethnic cuisine, watch a documentary, interview someone you know who has been to other countries, use your imagination and explore.
  • For younger children, set up a store and let them practice counting money and making change. Better yet, have a yard sale and put them in charge of handling the money.
  • Encourage them to write stories. Too much technology is robbing young people of their imaginations. Help them foster it.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein

My son made this today since I published the post–a pallet tray.

  • Give them tools to create and build things.
  • Give them work. My dad said, “When a child is given a job–a long, hard job, not just a chore, but a job he may hate, something good happens.” I believe him.
  • Let them research and plant a garden. Even those living in an apartment or with very little space can plant small things–herbs, tomatoes, peppers–and/or build a raised bed on a patio. Let them learn to grow food; it is essential for an uncertain future.
  • Find a u-pick fruit farm and store some fruit for the winter. You could also purchase vegetables from a farmer’s market to can or freeze, especially if you don’t have a great place for a garden.
  • Take some inexpensive field trips. Museums are a great place to start.
  • Have any projects that need done in the house? Let the kids help. You might be surprised at how much they figure out. And figuring stuff out is good.
  • Show them how to press flowers. These can be used to decorate homemade note cards.
  • Pick blackberries and make pies to give to some people you know who are lonely.
  • Give them a scavenger hunt.
  • Look up and read to them about things they find. Don’t overlook their curiosity.
  • Let them start a blog or website.
  • Encourage them to make a movie.
  • Encourage them to write an editorial to the local paper.

Summer is the perfect time to learn, expand and grow interests. What are your ideas?

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24 Responses to “Simple Homeschooling: Ideas for Summer Learning”

  1. 6 arrows says:

    Take a trip around the world. This one made me chuckle. Our family went to a graduation party this weekend that was more than one hour away from our home. When we were coming back, our five-year-old announced “I want to go around the world sometime.” To which my husband, who lo-o-o-ves traveling — NOT! — responded, “It feels like we already went around the world today.” LOL! Going to the next county is enough of a trip for him 😉

    But, to get on topic… A couple years ago my husband and some of our children built a little fort-like structure (but without a roof) at the edge of the woods on the hill behind our house. On nice summer days that aren’t too hot or mosquito-filled, the kids and I will go up there with blankets to sit on in it (we call it our lookout). I might do a read-aloud book with them, or we may all take our own books to read individually. Sometimes we’ll take sketch pads and art supplies and draw a small slice of what we see from our lookout. Or we may simply sit and listen for bird song and try to identify which birds we’re hearing, and see if we can catch a glimpse of those birds. Having field guides on hand is good for this.

    And if the weather isn’t suitable for that, we have a room in our house where my very creative husband painted trees in two corners. The trunks go all the way up the walls, and the branches and green leaves extend up onto the ceiling. The children can sit and read under this very realistic-looking canopy. There’s something magical about finding new places to read…it takes reading out of the realm of the ordinary and adds a special touch to it.

    One thing we haven’t done, but plan to do this year, is use the telescope we were given to study the night sky. We’re out in the country, where city lights do not affect us, so that is a blessing we intend to take advantage of.

    That’s just a short list of things we’ll be doing this summer. And projects around the house…well, our home is perfectly immaculate and always stays in order, so, no, no projects there at all… 😛

    Good list, Kelly. And I’ll bet I know what (or who) your family’s little summer project will be a few weeks from now! 🙂

    • Word Warrior says:

      6 arrows–the reading adventures sound dreamy…memories to last a lifetime! And yes, our little project should arrive soon (I hope!)

    • Erica says:

      I love the idea of trees painted inside. I wanted to paint a wood scene with fairies for the girls, but our landlord would not be pleased with it! 🙂 Thankfully we have some nice mature trees in & around our yard to read under! I had planned on doing a day of activities outside but it is raining today…I looked out and those trees are so established that there is a huge area that is still dry – despite it raining all night! I may wait for it to get lighter & take them out regardless of the rain.

  2. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Kelli! Our oldest is 4 and I really appreciate your wisdom about fostering a lifestyle of learning. I hope we’re doing that even though formal ‘education’ seems silly at this age — and it’s a lot of fun what I get to learn along with him even at this age!

  3. Claudia says:

    Our house needs painting, so my two able-boys (13 and 10) are going to paint with me so that we can bless Dad, who is outdoors most of his workday. We have been studying and measuring, and even found an acceptable paint and trim color at the surplus center in a nearby city (FREE). I am, quite honestly, overwhelmed with the idea, but for my boys, it’s an adventure. After reading Mary Emma and Company (in the Little Britches series- a MUST read), I can’t HELP but be inspired to tackle this. The resourcefulness of that widowed-mother and her children encourages even the faint-hearted to tackle something big. I love your dad’s quote!

  4. Word Warrior says:

    Oh fun, Claudia! LOVE having boys (and girls) that enjoy the tackle. I’ve got one on a super cute project right now–I’ll share pictures if it turns out 😛 You’ll love the fresh paint once it’s done.

  5. Tracy says:

    Love these ideas! Thank you

  6. Heather Newcomb says:

    Great ideas!!!!!

  7. Erica says:

    Well, I *thought* I had the kids summer planned out! LOL Kelly your son’s tray is BEAUTIFUL…one of my older boys was looking over my shoulder and when he saw it he said “Cool” then when I started telling him that your son is younger than he is – he said “That is really neat. I wish Dad hadn’t given away the wood pile. I wanted to build a fort for the little kids.” I was amazed because he’s never expressed an interest in buildling anything! Now the older boys are discussing a fort or swingset they can build for the little ones.

    Great ideas by the way. Sadly, so many parents don’t realize that just their day-to-day interactions with their kids IS educational. Building with blocks or Legos can become a quick & easy “study” into physics without even Mom or Dad realizing it!Helping mom bake some cookies is a fast math lesson. Just regular day-to-day things ARE learning – especially when they are young! And without thinking about it parents are taching all day long. I am so thankful God opened my eyes to this years ago so I could be more intentional in the time I spend with the kids, the toys I surround them with, and keeping my ears open for more opportunity to teach them.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Great! You’ll have to share with us what he ended up building. My favorite thing about building is it’s just a great exercise in problem-solving, which I think is an underestimated skill.

  8. Leah says:

    This is a wonderful list, Kelly. I was wondering what a mom might do to help encourage her one (teen) son in manly projects if dad can’t be involved? I have some health issues that limit my involvement, and our son is sandwiched between two girls!

    Some great and practical ideas would be SOO appreciated. So far, there hasn’t been much response from other blogs. I guess because the norm always involves either other sons or dads.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Leah, great question! Two thoughts come to me: first, one of my friends has some resources (free videos, articles, etc) about guy skills here: http://teachinggoodthings.com/blog/manly-skills/

      And I was thinking about youtube also, if there isn’t someone available who can give him some pointers. I actually think it’s wonderful if a young man can figure it out on his own (using videos, articles). I would try to encourage him in that way (plus, just looking at pictures and videos can really inspire).

  9. Jackie says:

    Your ideas are super! Yes, summer is a great time for science, plus it is more laid back for us so it doesn’t seem as much like school.

    We have already done some of the ideas from your list and I am excited to try some of the others. We are also considering add Science 4 Us (www.science4us) to our summer supplemental list. It is new, but looks really good.

    In response to Leah, Dangerous Boys is a good book. We had a mom in our co-op that used it for classes every year. She might find good projects for her son in that book.

    Joyfully,
    Jackie

    • Leah says:

      Thank you , Jackie! My son does have that book. I guess the whole issue is in figuring out how to inspire him so he is interested. I think I need to work on that part:)He has focus and retention issues, (and as of late, motivation issues!) He seems to be going through a type of funk, for lack of better words.

      I have been praying for a long time that God would instill in him a strong purpose and direction for his life, and that I would have the wisdom to know how to help direct him according to God’s Will, but I feel a bit lost at sea! Thank you for your helpful words!

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  11. This was a great adventure, thank you for sharing it with us!

  12. Anne Gregor says:

    As for me, the best part is that you get to see the best parts of your kids as they grow and learn.

    Anne
    http://HomeschoolingOption.com/

  13. Shelly says:

    We love to visit the creek in the summer and hunt for crayfish, tadpoles, frogs, and other critters. My kids love to come home and read all about these animals after seeing them. On rainy days we love to pull out the paints, chalk pastels, and clay and just have fun creating!

  14. Alina says:

    Also, let them get bored from time to time. They will learn to organise their own time and will not be always looking for someone to entertain them. It is so good to see children coming up with a game all by themselves.

  15. D. says:

    I totally agree with you Kelly that summer should not be an end to “school,” but I do feel it should be a season of being less structured and on-task. It’s good to have days where the kids can enjoy time without a lot of structure and also to be motivated when mom doesn’t have something planned. I think it’s the faulty way our world views education. Somehow a kid needs to have their nose in a book in order for it to qualify as school. Instead, our kids are learning all the time about attitudes, conflict resolution between each other and many practical life skills (sweeping, dishes, cleaning bathrooms, etc….)

    We’ve started our informal summer reading program and I also enjoy reading to the kids from the LightKeepers series (countless short stories about many of the men and women God used through the annals of history).

    For the reluctant writer (such as my 7 year old son), I opted to follow a friend’s suggestion called 5 to 10 minute writing. It gives them a time frame, the choice to write about what they want to and also a chance for me to see how much guidance they may need in spelling. It’s a stress-free method!

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