If you stick to a traditional schooling schedule, you and your children are either already finished up with the school year or limping along towards the finish line. Either way, you have the whole summer ahead of you and many homeschooling families choose to extend learning even during academic downtime. In my home it looks something like unit studies or a 1-4 weeks focused on something I’d like my children to learn but cannot fit into the normal school year. Shakespeare, I’m looking at you.
We recently moved across country to a place where we can be outside more as a family. Hiking, exploring, and enjoying God’s beautiful handiwork through nature has been a dream of mine and my husband for years. This summer we will naturally be outdoors and learning through unstructured nature study. We will learn about outdoor safety, the plants and animals native to our new home state, and how to Leave No Trace as we care for the world God gave to us to care for.
Here a few links to helpful resources as you think on what to learn about during your summer downtime. Obviously each family is different and so not all ideas will be useful to you, but hopefully there is enough here for you to get started on extending hands-on learning through enjoyable and restful activities. After you go through the list, would you please add your own ideas in the comments?
Take Part in Summer Reading Programs
Each program is different so choose one that makes reading enjoyable for your children and not just a chore detracting from their summer break. If you don’t find one that will work for your own family, make your own!
- Local libraries – many library systems have their own summer reading program for the kids in their area. If your’s does not, check out nearby library system (this route may require a fee).
- Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program 2017 – Per the website, children can earn a free book from a chosen list if they complete 8 books.
- Read the World Summer Book Club – This is a good way to learn about the many different places in our world through books. Jamie has put together printables and extra materials to help make this fun for the kids AND Mom and Dad. You can even use this to help earn money for Love146, a ministry that works toward fighting against child trafficking. (Please note that I am not endorsing this ministry, merely sharing it for informational purposes.)
This is near and dear to my heart. Our family is slowly taking steps from a sedentary, indoors lifestyle to one of being physically active and exploring the great outdoors. Depending on where you live, it may be hard to do during the summer months and so you may want to tuck these ideas away for when your weather is more to your liking.
- Junior Ranger program – we love state and national parks but have yet to involve our children in the very popular Junior Ranger program. That will change this summer! Children can earn badges at the park or at home.
- Birding – The Audubon Society has lots of great ideas on learning about and taking care of wild birds. Make sure to download their free app to help identify the birds you may have in your own backyard.
- Geocaching – Geocaching is like a treasure hunt and is a great way to get the kids outdoors to explore while learning how to navigate and use technology.
Learn a New Skill
- Jam – LEGO projects, make your own Minecraft video show, and drawing courses are some of the skills your kids can learn
- DIY.org – Your children can earn digital patches as they complete challenges on everything from art to business to philosophy to science
- ChopChop Cooking Club
- Piano lessons
- Tynker – Coding courses for kids
Don’t forget that summer is a good time for teacher development. While you are busy planning for the next school year, why not catch up on your own reading? Research educational philosophies such as classical, Charlotte Mason, and others. Take time to evaluate what is working for you and what isn’t. If you need to make changes, now is the time to plan for it, remembering that you don’t have to go whole hog in any one educational philosophy. Remember to also read for fun or catch up on books that will expand your own education. (Here are the books that I want to read this year. Maybe you’ll find one that will help you in your educational journey.)