Is homeschooling in the summer really necessary? That is quite a loaded question. Chances are, you probably stand in one of two places on this issue, or somewhere in between. On one end of the spectrum are those that continue to do the same amount of schooling all year round. Most take some longer breaks here and there, but are pretty consistent all year. On the other end of the spectrum are those people who do absolutely no formal schooling during the summer. You are probably somewhere in between one of those two ends of the spectrum.
Most of us grew up in the public or private school system where summer breaks were a given. After all those years of that pattern, it can be hard to break that pattern in our minds to think of homeschooling in the summer.
I don’t believe that any approach on either end of the spectrum is necessarily right or wrong. Whether you keep up the same home school schedule all year long or whether you forgo any type of formal education in the summer, you are probably doing what works best for your family.
Some parents use the summer months to work on those subjects or skills that their children struggled with during the school year. For example, if your child struggled with Math or Spelling during the school year, a little extra practice in the summer might just help them to be more successful in that subject in the coming year.
Many parents adopt an unschooling philosophy of homeschooling in the summer where they allow their children to guide their educational pursuits. I have not been able to do this during the school year, but I have certainly used this approach during the summer.
You can’t really tell a child to stop learning. Whether you do homeschooling in the summer or not, your child is always learning. Sometimes we learn from books and sometimes we learn from experiments or experiences. Summer is a great time to experiment with water. In most parts of the country we don’t have the luxury of swimming all year round. We take full advantage of all the chances to swim during the summer at our house.
Summer lends itself to different types of learning. No matter what your learning style, you can find something interesting or different to do in the summer that you don’t normally get to do during the school year.
The Internet is a great place to find resources for learning. You can explore a different website each day or find a good educational game on the computer to encourage a different type of learning. Internet Resources for Homeschooling can guide you to all the best homeschool websites so you don’t have to go searching for them on your own.
Swimming - Summer can be a time for swim lessons, swimming in your own pool or a neighborhood pool, or just playing with a bucket of water or a sprinkler.
Gardening - Even if you just have 1 container with a tomato plant in it this summer, your children will learn a tremendous amount from watching that plant go from seedling to full grown. Gardening also lends itself to sharing with others. If your garden produces well, then your children can learn about canning and freezing food. We want to make sure our children know that food doesn’t just show up on grocery store shelves on it’s own.
Vacation - If you are able to take a family vacation, you can learn about where you are going (geography), different types of climate, and maybe even a little History and Science about the area where you will be staying. Vacations are so important to family bonding. Take one if you can. In Europe, families take a minimum of two week vacations with their families every year.
Baseball, Softball, and backyard sports - With the summer season comes warmer weather for most of the country. Take advantage of those warm days and get outside and play with your children. If they do not take part in organized community sports, take some time to work with them on your own. It doesn’t take much effort to throw a ball or kick a soccer ball back and forth 100 times each day. You will be amazed at your child’s progress over time.
Basically, your child has 12-16 hours each day during the summer to spend. Whether you use that time to continue to do schoolwork or whether you allow them to pursue other avenues of learning, always make sure that you are choosing what is best for your child.
If you are not pursuing formal homeschooling in the summer with your children each day, that gives you a little bit of extra time to work on some projects of your own. Some parents use the summer to organize their closets, cook some extra meals for freezing, get a handle on cooking better meals in less time, work on simplifying their life, getting organized, and any other projects that have been sitting on their to-do list all year.
Above all, enjoy the time you have with your children. You will never again have this year with them. Have fun!