I know a lot of homeschoolers do some sort of formal schooling all year round. For a long time I started each year with the intention of continuing through the summer but as April rolled around and then we got into May, my resolve always crumbled — by then we all needed a break.
The research is plentiful if you want some proof that learners actually lose some of what they learned if they take a long break from the learning process. I had plenty of evidence in my own house, I didn’t need convincing.
What I did need was a way to take a much needed break from the more structured education process that we follow most of the year without losing too much ground. I’m really not worried about “getting behind” (click here to find out more about why this doesn’t have to be a concern). I just didn’t want to spend unnecessary time “relearning” before we could move on.
What I’ve found with my own kids is that it isn’t always that important what they think about during the summer. In other words, they don’t always need to be progressing in the usual subjects like math lessons and spelling lists. I’ve found that a little review now and then, coupled with a variety of activities that keep their brains from collecting cobwebs is enough to prevent the sort of information dump that we are constantly being warned about.
If your family is anything like mine, then you are learning new things all the time. We have never considered summer as a break from learning, just as a break from the routine of the rest of the year. We are always looking for new things to explore. So what we do now is try to be a little more intentional about learning but we mostly just have fun!
Here is a list of some of the things we do in the summer that help us keep our brains engaged:
- Reading lots of books for the library reading program.
- Reading magazines – click here for a list of great magazines for kids
- Watching nature or travel DVD’s
- Keeping identification books for bugs, birds, wildflowers, trees, weather, etc. handy so we can look up anything that happens to come across our path
- Drawing and art projects
- Board games
- Hobbies like stamp collecting and coin collecting, kites, rockets, model cars, fishing, woodworking — all these things require learning new vocabulary and new skills
Aside from those activities, camping trips and family vacations offer tremendous opportunities for learning. The thing I always try to remember is that my main goal is not to fill my kids heads with a bunch of facts but to teach them to love the process of learning and I think the summer months are the perfect time to do that. So enjoy your summer and learn some new things right along with your kids.