In case you haven’t noticed by now, I really love homeschooling. While not every day has been easy, and some seasons have been more challenging than others, I have always felt both humbled and privileged to be such an integral part of my children’s education. But just because you love something doesn’t mean you want to do it all the time. That’s one reason I always take a summer break from homeschooling.
Summer gives me the headspace to refill what I’ve spent months pouring out mentally. It also gives me blessed time to catch up on house projects and other things that I haven’t had time to tend to for a while. So, depending on the day, you might find me relaxing in the hammock or deep cleaning all the things – or anything in between.
The long summer break from homeschooling gives me an opportunity to ponder on what worked and what didn’t over the past school year, too. With plenty of time to dream, research curriculum, and make solid plans for the year ahead, I never feel rushed to make important decisions. My brain really appreciates the space to think, tweak, and organize before jumping right back into learning.
A Summer Break From Homeschooling Is Good For My Children
My children have always needed a summer break from homeschooling, too! Because we live on a farm, summers can be busy. We spend a lot of time working cattle, making hay, mowing lawns, and gardening. Doing all of these things on top of regular lessons would be difficult.
Don’t think they work their fingers to the bone all summer, though! If rest and rejuvenation are important to me, I realize they are even more important for my children. Play and puttering, for instance, beautifully build the brain and promote independence.
Children (and teens) at play or working on their own pursuits are inherently learning, creating, problem-solving, and so much more. While I leave plenty of space within our homeschool day for this throughout the school year, the large amounts of time available during our summer break from homeschooling provide way more time to dig deep in these areas.
What If You Hear “I’m Bored” All the Time?
I can already hear you asking, “How does this type of inquisitive, independent time happen with kids who are easily bored?” That’s a great question! When my kids were younger, I worked hard to train them to enjoy the free time productively. Trust me, habit training pays off eventually!
My tactics usually required some up-front work on my end – and even weekly maintenance sometimes – but it was worth it. Here are some of the things I did:
- I would create an “I’m bored” list full of fun, open-ended activity ideas.
- There was always a box/shelf/basket of books hanging around the house that I changed out weekly.
- I would sometimes create open-ended, weekly summer learning centers to draw my children into new pursuits. This is often called “strewing”.
- A new science kit would magically appear every once in a while.
- The art supplies and handicraft supplies were open for business all summer long – no holds barred (usually).
- The game closet was always open for business, too.
- I encouraged my kids to get into the kitchen.
- And, of course, nature study supplies were available at all times.
What About the Summer Slide?
Of of the most vocal points against a summer break from homeschooling is a phenomenon called the “summer slide”. Statistically speaking, when children return from longer breaks like summer there is a tendency for some children to drop just a little below where they ended the previous school year. Fortunately, most curricula are written to do some review at the beginning of a new school year before jumping into new concepts. But, even more importantly, homeschoolers already know that learning can happen anytime, anywhere, without books, plans, or walls. Summer is no different, it’s just way less formal.
Sneaky Summer Learning Ideas
However, summer break DOES give me the opportunity to purposely plan for some sneaky learning. Beyond the gardening, books, learning centers, arts and handicrafts, cooking, nature study, and plain old play or personal pursuits that I’ve already mentioned, there are lots of things we did (and still do) that I purposely plan. You’ll notice they are generally super-fun – which is sneaky learning at its finest.
- We have always kept a morning or afternoon read-aloud going.
- Summer field trips are the best. Usually, these are simple day trips that happen to gently teach science, history, and/or lots of other subjects.
- Themed parties with friends have always been fun – like a field day or nature club.
- When our kids were younger, they usually either attended or volunteered at Vacation Bible School or a summer camp.
- Our children have helped with numerous summer farm and building projects, which are real-life learning at their best.
- Many summers have included sports, which are perfect for out-of-the-box learning.
- And all of our fishing, camping, canoeing, putt-putt trips (or any other outdoor activity) have provided way more sneaky learning than you might think.
Childhood Is Fleeting
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that kids should have plenty of time to be kids. Childhood is a precious time that our children only get to experience once. Learning is important, but so is playing. Purpose to enjoy your children and let them enjoy being kids for as long as they can.
That can certainly happen during the school year as easily as it can during the summer. It can also happen as easily during smaller breaks if you happen to homeschool year-round. Summer isn’t the only time of the year that can or should be magical for your children. For our family, summer just so happens to be the break that we need all around for a variety of reasons. Because of that extended break, it is our most magical time of the year.
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