Do We Homeschool Year-Round? Our Summer Learning Routine

Summer Homeschool Schedule for Learning

 

It’s summer vacation for most of us in the United States. For many parents, that means figuring out ways to occupy the kiddos.

I’m quickly becoming a mom-group junkie, especially when it comes to homeschool groups. Since summer schedules seem to be a hot topic, I figured I’d go ahead and write a post detailing what a tentative summer schedule looks like in the Anderson household and how we incorporate learning.

But first, I owe you a quick update.

As most of you know we live in Georgia, which means summer break started in May. So far, our boys have enjoyed weekly VBS’s, sports camp, swimming lessons, summer movie screenings, community events, playdates, and more. This is probably one of the busiest summers in our entire homeschool career. Most importantly, our boys are learning things that textbooks can’t teach. Things like how to be a team player, respond to mean kids, meet new friends, and grow in self-confidence.

While summer break is the perfect time to take advantage of all the social opportunities it has to offer, many new homeschooling parents beg the question; How do I prepare my children for the next academic year?

There’s no right answer to this question but let me present you with a few studies. Consider this study that reveals students lose a significant amount of knowledge in reading, math, and spelling during summer. This learning loss accumulates over time leading to a regression in academic proficiency, which we all refer to as the summer slide.

There’s no denying that taking a substantial break from academics poses the risk for children to forget key learning concepts. For this reason, you’ll find that the average curriculum incorporates a review of previously learned material for the first few lessons. Therefore, summer learning loss is already accounted for.

However, if you’re like me and want your children to build fluency during summer, incorporating learning into your summer routine doesn’t have to be a battle. Here are some ideas for how you can encourage your child to continue flourishing during summer months.

 

1. Implement a family reading time.

In our home, I implemented what I like to call a “reading hour.” During this time, everyone grabs something to read, their favorite snack, and hangs out in the family room reading together silently. Afterward, everyone can discuss what they’ve read. For children who aren’t readers yet, try read-alouds or let them listen to an audiobook with headphones on. For struggling readers, research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing.

 

2. Make fluency practice easy.

If you don’t mind screens, installing apps like Prodigy, Elephant Learning, Reading Eggs, Epic, and more, can turn tablet time into fun fluency practice. Learning apps are not only a nice break from worksheets, but they also make incorporating summer learning easier on parents by allowing them to create academic goals and track progress. While some of these apps aren’t free, there are a ton of free ones available for download. Some apps even come with a free trial, so take advantage.

 

3. Focus on learning a new skill.

In our home, we carve out some time to encourage our boys to learn something new. We not only want them to retain what they’ve learned, but also increase what they know. Learning new skills sharpens their brains and builds confidence. Some great ideas we’ve tried are:

  • Following drawing tutorials
  • Learning how to play a new song on the keyboard
  • Learning to code a video game
  • Following dance tutorials
  • Learning life skills like tying shoelaces, riding a bicycle, swimming, etc.

 

4. Enter a contest and win money for college.

I’m excited to share this opportunity with you all. Education.com is holding a Limitless Learners Contest for a chance for six students to earn $500 toward college and $1000 to donate to their elementary school or local library. There are no strings attached. All your child/ren must do is this:

Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!

Kindergartners may draw or paint a picture to reflect their answer, while older kids can write a short story, poem, or even a comic strip. Deadline is October 31, 2019, but why not utilize summer break to sharpen your child’s writing skills and craft a winning response? See details, here.

 

5. Implement a reward system.

I’m a believer in incentives. In our home, screen time is a big deal, so I use that to my advantage. This summer, learning how to spell new words will grant my boys an allotment of precious Minecraft time. Of course, I had to make it fun by printing out this list of key Minecraft terms. I told my boys if they’re going to be playing the game, they need to know the spelling and definition of each term. The result? Over 40 words learned in just one week for my 9-year-old. My 6-year-old also learned 15 new words.

 

6. Develop the whole child.

Some parents focus solely on academics and unknowingly neglect other skills equally important for ensuring a child’s potential for learning, growth, and wellbeing. Outside cognitive development, other skills that should be challenged and developed are physical, social, emotional, and creative skills. In our home, we’ve also added spirituality to the list. How does this whole child approach play into academics? In short, research suggests children who are emotionally and physically healthy are higher academic achievers. But did we really need research to know that? Summer is the perfect time to check in on your child’s socio-emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Some books to read with your kiddos are:


 

If you need inspiration crafting a summer schedule, check out ours below. Keep in mind this schedule is always changing depending on what we do that day, but it comprises all the things we’d like to incorporate into our schedule when we’re at home. I love schedules for children not only because knowing what’s expected encourages positive behavior, but they also teach time management and responsibility.

Summer schedule for home school

What does your summer routine consist of? Let me know in the comment section!

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. I love hearing different positions on what to do with summer months and other holidays.

    We have a family reading time too, but it’s a little different. We put three big armchairs in our library (one for dad, one for mom, and one for daughter) and we each pick out a book that we’d like to read out loud to everyone for a bit. We take turns listening to each other read and then discussing the book. We call it our family literary society. It has done wonders for turning our daughter into a confident reader and speaker. We have no rules for what the books should be, except the pressure to be interesting (and that no one has already read it). Sometimes they are fantasy novels, sometimes science books, sometimes great literature.

    We send our daughter to camps throughout the year, but we do not take a long break for summer for a couple reasons (besides the fluency issue you mentioned here). First, she moves through curriculum so easily to begin with that she already has much of the afternoon off on “normal” school days. There’s no real pressure to take a long, arbitrary break to recharge like there is with traditional schools. Second, we have this bank of time that we can use throughout the year when there’s a good reason to take a break. For example, when her grandparents visit from out-of-state, she doesn’t do any school work that week or simply very light school work. That’s time for developing family relationships. Or when we want to take an impromptu road trip. I love having the flexibility to do things like that – it’s one of the best things about homeschooling.

    I have to say, teaching your child to deal with mean children when you homeschool is legitimately tough work. We dealt with bullies and “mean girl” behavior for the first time at camp this year and the worst part was our daughter was genuinely baffled at why kids would behave this way. She is accustomed to play dates with other homeschoolers, who for the most part look forward to these events, want to make friends, and have a vive la différence attitude. Listening to her describe the mean girls forming cliques and shunning these other girls, you’d almost think she was describing an alien invasion. She got into the car after the first day and asked “mommy, what does it mean when someone tells you to mind your own business?” She had never had anyone speak to her that way before. We don’t allow it in our house and we do not have friends who speak that way. I have so much pride in raising a peaceful and kind child, but it’s hard not to worry about how they will fare in the world sometimes. It is so much easier to explain to your child how they should behave than it is to explain to them why other families and school environments lack these standards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love your position on summer learning. I can relate to taking breaks during the year for travel and connecting with family members.

      My son also had an unfavorable experience with mean kids this year at camp. I tell him that kids who make fun of others are only projecting their own insecurities onto other people. It has nothing to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with how they feel about themselves. I also tell him to be confident enough not to stoop to their level. I’ve been preaching this since he was 5-years-old. He’s 9 now and I think it paid off. The situation ended with him praying for those group of kids and one of the ringleaders apologizing to my son out of the blue. I asked my son what he said when the kid apologized, he replied, “I said, ‘I forgive you.'” I’m proud of him for being compassionate to others and not holding on to resentment.

      Like

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