One of the advantages of homeschooling is the flexibility in scheduling school days. While many homeschoolers follow the traditional school year, others choose a year-round school schedule. Either way, summer offers plenty of opportunities for learning.
Summer Schooling: Whether you planned your lessons to carry through the year or not, summer is a time when homeschooling can continue at a more relaxed pace. Some parents choose a four-day school week, in which case schooling in the summer is necessary to finish up the year. Others choose three weeks on with one week off, continuing through the summer months. Other families find themselves a little behind schedule because of family issues, illnesses, or traveling, and summer provides an ideal time to catch up. Working on lessons in the afternoon when it’s too hot to be outside is a productive alternative to playing video games or watching television.
Arts Enrichment Camps: If you’ve concentrated on the basics during the school year, summer is the perfect season to involve your children in enrichment activities. These might be once-a-week activities or week-long instruction camps. Check with your local ballet studios for dance opportunities and your local art centers for drawing and painting classes. If your town has a children’s theater, check and see if a drama camp is being offered. When you find opportunities in your town, let the parents of your child’s friends know about them. Children are more at ease and enjoy camp more when they know someone else participating.
Science Camps: Check with your local science center for one-day, two-day, three-day, or week-long science camps. Some science centers offer opportunities for young scientists to learn more about the weather, electricity, nutrition, and robotics. Don’t forget to check with the state parks in your area as well; they often offer classes in nature and the environment.
Sports Camps and Swimming Lessons: While Physical Education is a standard subject in traditional schools, homeschoolers often have to work a little harder to fit it into their schedules. Summer sports camps and swimming lessons are a great way to add physical exercise to your homeschooling program. Check with your local YMCA, colleges, and sports organizations for opportunities.
4-H Classes: Call your local 4-H Extension Office to find out what 4-H classes are available in the summer. One-day classes in subjects such cooking, gardening, or photography provide enrichment activities for students with a variety of interests.
Library Programs: Local libraries will often offer summer programs, either free or for only a minimal fee. Sometimes they’ll have special speakers come in to talk about other cultures or exotic wildlife. They may also offer art and craft classes for children as well as reading programs. Check with your library to see what’s available.
Your Own Summer Club: If finances are tight and learning opportunities are limited in your area, you can start your own summer learning club and teach a subject you enjoy. Gather a group of students to meet one or two mornings a week for activities such as gardening or discussing literature. You can follow a curriculum, purchase a unit study, or simply make up one of your own. If other homeschooling moms are interested, you could even trade off teaching the classes.
Field Trips: While the school year is often busy with academics, the summer can be a good time to go on field trips, either with just your family or with a group of friends. You could visit local historic sites or museums, or you could organize a field trip to an area farm or zoo. You can also call local businesses and ask if they offer free tours of their companies. Check with restaurants such as pizza places, donut shops, and bakeries, as well as pet shops, grocery stores, and home improvement stores.
Traveling: If your family is planning a summer vacation, take advantage of the educational opportunities your trip presents. Children can help plan the trip, learning about the destination, figuring out an itinerary, and calculating the cost involved in going. They can map out the route you’ll take and study the states you’ll be traveling through. No matter where you go, there’s always something to learn. A trip to the beach can mean a lesson in the tide and the phases of the moon or ocean wildlife. A camping trip could be a lesson in tree and plant identification. A trip to the city could mean visits to museums, plays, or historical monuments.
For more summertime educational options, check your local newspaper and television news sites as well. With so many opportunities to learn and continue learning, summertime can be a natural extension of your homeschooling year.
By Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell