We’ve been homeschooling since the beginning, ever since we realized we couldn’t afford preschool for our twins. While the reasons and the conviction to homeschool have changed over the passing years, we’ve always done school at home.
Our twins are now finishing up what would be considered their second-grade year. Academically, they are a bit behind their peers (or so we think), but we just keep moving forward at the pace that is making sense for us. That means we won’t be having a “last day of school” party any time soon. We intend to continue schooling over the summer.
If you’re wondering whether or not to homeschool in the summer, there are so many fun activities that can be done. From board games to an art project a day, the kids will have fun with a summer homeschool schedule that will also help to teach life skills.
As a kid I always, always loved summer vacation and summer break from school. Summer meant time outdoors, camps, swimming, sun tanning, late nights, no homework, lots of time with friends, trips to amusement parks, earning money, and on and on. It’s part of the reason I wanted to be a teacher for a long time – you get the summers off!
But, last summer, without the rigid requirement of schoolwork each day, we floundered. All of us.
Last summer was not a great summer.
My husband was working like a mad person trying to finish his dissertation proposal.
I was working like a mad woman trying to make sure we had enough money coming in to pay for him working so hard in his dissertation and not teaching.
Our kids were left with far too little structured time, leaving them watching far too many movies and TV shows, especially because our best friends, whom we spent nearly every day with the previous summers here in Texas, had moved three hours away.
We just didn’t know what to do with all the free time.
While I am a huge proponent of unstructured free time for kids, too much is a bad thing. We were left bored, unsatisfied, angry, and empty.
When we finally did start school up again the end of August, the “Summer Slide” was apparent in my children. We hadn’t kept up with reading or spelling or writing during the summer and its absence was apparent when we started it up again.
Thankfully, my twins have come leaps and bounds this year in terms of their reading, writing, and spelling, but they still have more to learn to become much more confident readers and writers. And that’s a big reason we’ll continue schooling through the summer too. I don’t want to lose the momentum we have in place. I don’t want to experience the Summer Slide.
One of the great benefits of homeschooling is you can take days off when you want or need to. And we definitely took some time off this last school year for holidays, as we traveled to be with family for Thanksgiving, as well as the end of January when we welcomed baby number 5 into our home, and then again in March when we moved from our small 3 bedroom apartment to a much larger 4 bedroom rental home.
We then took the first three weeks of May off of school as we travel around the country for an extended family vacation. Of course, you could actually consider much of it be like mini field trips and learning as we took the kids to different museums, saw new things and places, and explored together.
There have also been an occasional sick day here or there or day off for doctor’s appointments, day trips, or fun.
And this summer we’ll have those too, I’m sure.
But, as much as possible we’ll be schooling through the summer.
Here’s why we’re homeschooling through the summer:
- The Summer Slide
- Structured days
- Continued momentum
- Catch up where they are behind academically
- It’s hot in Texas and this gives us worthwhile things to do indoors
- They don’t know any different
- They are not reading books yet in their spare time
The last one is a big one. Our girls are not yet expressing strong desires to read books in their spare time. If they were, I might think differently about schooling through the summer. But, right now, they just aren’t doing it much. And I know if I let them just do whatever all summer, we’d experience that Summer Slide, where much of what they’ve learned and practiced is lost.
Encouraging More Reading During the Summer Months
To help inspire them to read more this summer we’ll be instituting some summer reading programs, through our local library and elsewhere, but also our own unique Fagan Family edition with our own incentives and rewards (because that’s how we roll).
One of the things we’ll be encouraging our daughters to do is read chapter books, ideally, good, wholesome chapter books.
It’s amazing to me the more I read books with my children and hear them read to me and visit the library how many less than stellar books are out there. As Christians, and as homeschoolers looking to set our children up with a strong moral foundation now for the rest of their lives, I don’t want them reading stories that are full of selfish, vapid, angry, annoying, ridiculous, parent-and-teacher-hating children. I would love for them to read books that are adventurous and fun but for the right reasons.
And that’s why I’m excited about the Sonlight Summer Readers.
Sonlight Summer Readers
Sonlight sent me a few of their Summer readers for Elementary school girls and my daughters have already begun reading them, and I’m already impressed. Sonlight chooses only the best books, full of historically Christian values or at least redemptive storylines, which is why I was excited to write this post in exchange for the books and an entry in the giveaway below.
The boy books tend to have male main characters, with plots that emphasize adventure and danger, with pranks, humor, and hijinks for good measure.
The girl books tend to have female main characters, with plots that emphasize courage and connection, with romance, mystery, and beauty for good measure. Here is the set I received for elementary girls:
Even for their “fun” reading books, they prefer well-developed plots and rich characters.
Each of the different Sonlight Summer Reader sets cost between $29-36 and each includes four books (Middle School and High School) or five books (Elementary School). I love adding great books to our collection and Sonlight has made it easy to do that! Plus, I know that they are age-appropriate as well.
I have discovered that as my girls go past “early readers” to chapter books, I am lost as to what is or isn’t truly appropriate for their age level and reading abilities! I want to encourage them, but not frustrate them.
This summer we plan to add more history and science learning as well as their regular English and Math learning, plus encourage them to spend more time reading and to make reading fun! I see rewards, reading Bingo, and other games and incentives coming to our family this summer.
What are the benefits of summer learning?
Having a homeschool summer can be hard work, but once you get into a summer routine, you’re going to have loads of great ideas. Even if you want to go at a slower pace, do so!
The benefit of home school in the summer is that you can work on reading skills, basic skills at home, and keep play dates and make new connections within the homeschooling community.
There are a lot of fun ways that you can incorporate summer activities even with a more relaxed schedule. Don’t forget that outdoor play worked into your daily schedule is a must, too!
The benefit of summer days and school work is that you can have more screen time if you’d like, less screen time, and even incorporate some video games into your summer homeschooling program.
The summer months are a great time to have your own summer school at home and to continue the learning into the homeschool year. It’s a good idea to work on math skills but with the benefit of a summer schedule. Don’t forget that you can also have the kids sign up for a summer reading program as well.
Since you’re a homeschool mom, do what is best for your family! You can still have family vacations and incorporate summer homeschool ideas along the way.
If you homeschool, I’d love to know how it is going for you and if you also school year-round or look forward to your summers off as well. If you take the summers off, I’d love to know how you combat the Summer Slide and encourage more reading, or keep a schedule otherwise! I’m still learning how to rock this homeschool thing and love hearing how others do things!