A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a connected parenting class. The instructor mentioned that summer break was only a week away and everyone in the room groaned…….except for me.
Most public and private schools have a twelve week summer break. That’s a lot of time for kids to keep themselves positively engaged in responsible self growth activities. Right?
Yeah, whatever! In reality it’s more like 12 weeks of staving off boredom and keeping themselves out of trouble.
The truth is, summer break is a really long time to keep your kids from becoming screen hypnotized couch potatoes. So, what can you do to help your kids actually engage in positive growth activities?
Homeschool them in the summer!
When we decided years ago, to homeschool our kids, we gave little thought as to whether or not we would follow the public school calendar. As it turns out, it was a year round schedule that flowed naturally out of our decision to adopt a Worry Free Homeschool philosophy. Since then, I’v’e come to realize four benefits to continuing to homeschool our kids during the summer break.
Four Reasons We Homeschool During the Summer
My wife (More Love Mama) is a teacher, so she is off for 10 weeks during the summer. My kids on the other hand are in school year round, because we use the Worry Free Homeschooling philosophy. You can read an article about Worry Free Homeschooling by clicking this link.
All of this means that while More Love Mama is out of school and home for ten weeks, we try to maintain the same (or nearly the same) schedule as when she is working. Of course, we do more travelling and have more family outings during the summer, but when we are home, the schedule is the same in July as it is in February.
Here are our four reasons for continuing to homeschool our children though out the summer:
Homeschooling during the summer allows us to be more flexible with our time year round.
The typical school day at public and private schools is around eight hours. Most homeschools can cover the same amount of material in about half the time. This advantage means that homeschool families can be more flexible with their schedule.
For example, if we want to have a four day school week or take a three day weekend camping trip, we can. This kind of flexibility allows us to take a break from school to do yard work, housework or to go shopping. We can take field trips, go to the dog park, and enjoy play dates whenever we want.
More Love Mama and I have also learned that extending the school year from nine months to twelve, allows us to take a more relaxed, less stressful pace. If one of my kids gets stuck on multiplying decimals, I don’t have to worry about starting the next unit on time. We can slow down and spend extra time making sure she completely understands how to multiply those darn decimals before we move on to dividing pizzas.
This extended year also allows our kids to spend more time exploring their interests. My number two (birth order, not preference) son who likes to build things, can take a few days to help me repair the fence. My culturally inquisitive daughter can learn more about the foods they eat in Japan, and my little reader can spend extra time in her Junie B. Jones books.
The bottom line is, doing school during the summer months allows my kids to get caught up if they are behind, or maybe even get a little bit ahead.
Homeschooling during the summer maintains the continuity of the learning process.
Math is a good example of a subject that should be taught year round. Just like a language, it takes almost constant exposure for kids to learn and retain math skills. Just think about all of those useless formulas you learned in school, that you have forgotten. Now, think about the fact that public school kids go for three months without reinforcing the math skills that they learned during the previous school year. What if your daughter finally memorized her multiplication tables at the end of the school year and now she’s going to be watching My Little Pony for the next three months. Someone is going to be frustrated when September rolls around and all those math facts are long forgotten.
My oldest son is in that situation right now. By the end of May, he had finally memorized most of the multiplication table. That’s why we continue to work on it this summer. He’s got everything pretty well memorized now, but what if we took a three month break? Back to square one!
Homeschooling during the summer preserves our schedule, which reduces chaos.
If you send your kids to school, you might have noticed that the sudden change to their schedule can be a real butt kicker. Suddenly, a house that had been peaceful during the day, is now full of the sounds of needy, bored, and fighting kids. The house that was once reasonably clean, now looks like the aftermath of an F5 tornado!
I know these things because this is what happened here in my house every June. My kids were super excited to have More Love Mama home, but they absolutely drove us insane. My wife, who runs her own business out of our house, had the crazy idea that she would have tons of extra time during her summer break to work in her store. In fact, she really counts on summers to make big improvements to her business.
The kids had other plans for her time, and were constantly asking her to referee their disputes, update their tablets, and a thousand other needy requests that came with all of that unstructured down time.
That’s when we decided to resume a modified version of our school schedule. Perhaps it was more out of self defense rather than the more noble goal of preparing our kids for their stellar collegiate careers. I also wish I could say that our summer homeschool schedule was well planned and flawlessly executed from the very beginning, but that would be a big fat lie.. It most definitely has been a trial and error process. We may both be trained professional educators, but when it comes to parenting, we are rank amateurs just like everyone else. Nevertheless, we have continued to stick with summer homeschooling and the chaos factor has decreased…..most of the time. We still have six elementary aged kids, after all!
Homeschooling during the summer reduces screen time and boredom.
You think your kids spend too much time on their tablets and phones during the school year. So, you decided that they were going to find alternative ways for them to entertain themselves, you know, like we did, B.E. (before electronics). Your plan went quite well, until the sun went supernova, as it always does in June. Now it’s a bazillion degrees outside, and your kids’ friends are at their lake house. There is only so much you can do inside the house, before the natives become restless, and beg for their electronics. Does it sound like I’m speaking from experience?
More Love Mama and I both agree that it’s important to limit our kids’ screen time. It’s super easy for electronics use to get out of hand during the summer months. We were able to significantly reduce screen time by introducing a couple of hours of homeschool curriculum to our kids’ schedule every day. They may resent it at first, but it’s much better than the endless hours of mind numbing screen time you will avoid.
Use that time to teach your kids logic, or a language, music, or art, let them explore their interest in microbiology, history, or geography. If you can afford to buy them books that interest them, that works too. One year, my oldest daughter taught herself how to read and write in cursive. If my kids have to do some sort of learning activity during the summer, they prefer to do those subjects that interest them. Duh, aren’t we adults the same?
You don’t need a rigid schedule or defined curriculum.
One easy thing for you to try is this: every weekday during the summer, designate a quiet hour or two. Hand your kids a book or activity (crosswords, Sudoku, etc.) and send each of them off to their room or to a quiet space and let them sharpen their mind with something that doesn’t have an on switch.
Another option is to purchase one of these Summer Brain Quest Books and have them do 4-5 pages a day. There are so many things you can do to keep the ball of education rolling during the summer. Use your imagination, you might be surprised at what you might come up with!.
I hope this article encouraged you to at least think about providing your kids with some summertime academic activities. If you have questions or comments please feel free to contact me. I always love hearing from you.
Brian at Daddy Go To Timeout
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