The longer I homeschooled, the more convinced I became that homeschooling through the summer was a good idea. Some of my friends thought I was nuts for not taking the summer off, and I had to agree that I couldn't keep up my usual pace year-round without risk of burning out. There are definite advantages, though, and I want to share with you my top 10 reasons for homeschooling through the summer months.
1. Forward Progress. Even with a more relaxed pace, the children can continue to make progress with their skills. My goal for my children's education is for them to truly understand the material, not just to get through the material. Schooling year-round allows time for my children to master knowledge and skills at their own pace without falling behind schedule.
2. Less Review Time. The more time off, the more time is needed to review. Two of my children were struggling learners, and they had a hard time retaining information. Since we continued school throughout the summer, the information stayed fresh in their minds, and I didn't have to spend weeks in the fall just to bring them once again to the place we had reached the previous spring.
3. Buffer Days. When a new baby joins the family, or during times of illness or family crisis, it can be nearly impossible to squeeze in the usual school time. Besides that, our children will have off days during the school year, and if there are special needs or challenges, the off moments may happen with greater frequency. Schooling in the summer builds in a margin of extra school time so that when you or your children can't complete as much as you normally would, you can lighten up the workload that day without having to worry about falling behind.
4. More Field Trips. Sometimes just getting through the basic subject areas took up so much time that I felt like we missed out on some of the optional fun and supplemental activities. Summertime proved to be ideal for making up those field trips that we hadn't fit in during the rest of the year. My children were always up for a field trip, and whether we went by ourselves or connected with another family or two, they learned a lot and had fun doing it.
5. Projects. Summer is the best time to fit in some of those time- and space-consuming projects that you didn't get around to during the rest of the year. Take advantage of more daylight hours and opportunities to be outdoors, and knock out some of those fun, messy projects during the time of year when you can just hose everything off when you are finished.
6. Local Programs. During the summertime, programs for children abound. Many of these activities are offered for free, and you can have your children attend a workshop at a local library or join a nature hike at a nearby metro park. With a little preparation beforehand and some extension activities and review afterward, these local programs can be nice additions to your summer schooling.
7. Mom's Summer Reading Club. This was one of my more inspired ideas, born out of a desire for my children to read good literature. There just isn't time during the traditional school year to fit in all the wonderful books I wanted my children to experience. So in addition to signing them up for our local library's summer reading program, I generated a list of books for each child and individualized the prizes they could earn. My kids loved earning personalized rewards, and I was happy they were reading excellent books.
8. Interest Areas. Summer is the time to go ahead and explore some of those subjects your children are interested in but that don't fit neatly into the traditional academic areas. One year we spent time studying women who fought in the Civil War or worked as spies. Follow your child's lead, and see where it takes you.
9. Future Planning. Having a more relaxed pace in the summer gave me time to discuss with my children the topics they wanted to learn more about. I found that we were more unified when my children planned some of the next year's curriculum with me, and it gave me adequate time to include their chosen topics in our school day.
10. Routines. Schooling during the summer months kept my family on a predictable schedule. For some children, the familiarity of routine is very important to their sense of well-being. Even with a relaxed pace, children need some structure to their days, and there's no reason why they can't spend a bit of time learning each day.
If family vacations or other events prevent you from schooling during the entire summer, incorporating school time into your day even for part of the summer will still reap benefits. I encourage you to relax and give it a try. You just may find yourself enjoying it.
Melinda Boring is the mother of three homeschooled children, the owner of Heads Up, a speaker with a passion for helping those with special needs, and a speech/language pathologist with over 25 years experience.
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