Summer homeschool updates!
In my opinion, summer is a GREAT time to homeschool, for the following reasons:
- Everything we accomplish feels like a bonus because most people are on “summer break”.
- Outdoor activities are more available. For example, our building pool opens Memorial Day and closes Labor Day.
- Many museums and other cultural institutions run special events in the summer, including camps for kids. I happen to teach in a museum summer camp program, so I’m a big fan!
- My son has a summer birthday, so he gets lots of new books and toys just as the season gets going.
What our summer looked like
My son attended day camp, mostly during the weeks when I was working full days. He loved it! His camp is about as close as he’ll probably get to a traditional school environment. It’s run at a private school by the regular teachers, and they do many of the same activities and routines that they follow during the school year.
I, meanwhile, spent four weeks teaching museum camp. Topics included human evolution, dinosaurs, and geology. I blew out my vocal cords shouting over the museum crowds, but other than that, it wassuper fun! I’m going to be writing a series of articles this fall about learning at museums, so stay tuned for that!
Because of my work schedule, I felt like my child and I had less quality time together in summer than we do during the “school year”. However, we did continue to homeschool, and we caught up with each other over dinners and on weekends. We also had a few weeks’ break when neither of us was at camp. It gave me a glimpse of what our schedule might feel like if he attended traditional school and I worked full time. Needless to say, I’m glad this was only temporary!
First and foremost, my son learned to swim! It was almost as exciting as watching him take his first steps. As with so many skills he’s learned, he didn’t get formal lessons. He watched others do it, practiced some of the component skills, and finally just went for it. Surprisingly, he feels more comfortable putting his head in the water than holding it upright. As he likes to say, “I can swim underwater, but not on land!’
I consider learning to swim to be just as important as any “academic” skill my son might pick up. It’s huge in terms of water safety. And it’s also a full body skill that requires intense focus, especially for a beginner. It was a great illustration of how repeated practice and incremental improvements can make way for a big breakthrough!
Plus, it reminded me to trust my child. Everyone kept bugging me to get him formal lessons, and I kept saying “he’ll do it when he’s ready”. And he did!
I was never a PE teacher. But as a camp counselor, I helped many children my son’s age learn to swim. They didn’t need lots of formal instruction, either. Our culture is lesson-crazy, and we just don’t have to be.
Other milestones we had this summer:
- giving up naptime (boo) BUT sneaking books during naptime (yay)
- my child requesting to work on spelling – on a Saturday in August no less!
- growing our first edible foods on the terrace, including a “space tomato” from our Tomatosphere citizen science project (check out this post for more on citizen science projects)
- finishing all of the Magic Tree House series currently in print
- having family events where the kids sit and play with each other, without needing adults to jump in. For parents of kids under 5, this is HUGE!
- getting a vermicompost bin for our life science study this year
Guest posts at Pandia Press
I’ve written two guest posts recently for Pandia Press, a secular homeschool publishing company that provides history and science curriculum to families. The most recent is about buying a microscope for kids. During my time teaching middle school science, I had to order all of the school’s lab supplies, including an entire set of microscopes. So I share the most important factors to consider when purchasing a microscope, including affordability.
The other post was about homeschool styles. I am very comfortable being eclectic –
stealing borrowing what works, ditching what doesn’t, and making up my own stuff as I go along. But then, my background is IN education. I was a teacher long before I had my son, and I was fully immersed in the education world and all of its different approaches. When I realized that I had the freedom, as a homeschooler, to do things my OWN way, the way I wanted to do them in my classroom but couldn’t, it was a revelation!
But many parents just starting out, who are overwhelmed with information, find it helpful to select a style. Identifying a homeschool style that aligns with your values allows you to focus in on the curriculum and resources that will work for you. Click the graphic to go to the article!
What have you been up to in your summer homeschool? Do you take a break during the summer months, or do you continue year round? Leave a note in the comments below!