Summer is here.
We have had a crazy spring and now states are beginning to reopen. Many moms are torn about summer due to a third of a school year that has been spent home in shut down. Now summer is upon us and everyone wants to get outside. Many fear the endless summer of 2020 will result in the loss of hard earned academic gains. Some are considering homeschooling summer school. But after being closed in for months, children want to get outside! To tell the truth, many moms do too! I do not blame them!
The good news is that there are ways to keep reading, writing, and arithmetic skills fresh, without resorting to busy work, work sheets and work books! Summer School does not need to look like school. These skills can be naturally woven into your family's summer.
Whatever you do, try to keep a basic foundational routine, simplify meals, and do not be tempted to overschedule. Pick a few things and weave them into your homelife. I invite you to think outside the box!
Nine Fun Ways to "Out of the Box Summer School"
Let reading can be an adventure. Families could do a family passport and read about different countries. Then there is Family Reading Bingo, reading different genres of books.
It is nice to have a hammock to read from, or at least a blanket you do not mind being outside. We have large shady trees in our yard and we have sprawled a blanket under the trees and read aloud.
A lot of libraries have summer reading programs. Family designed reading programs can be fun too. We did one I called, Fly Me to the Moon, Let Me Play among the Starts! That would be a great theme this summer with summer beginning with a Space X launch. I covered a big wall with craft paper. I had our solar system made out of construction paper. Family members could get points for being read to and for reading. Each person got a paper spaceship they made themselves. We started at earth and each planet represented a different number of pages and each planet was a prize. Some prizes were - s"mores on a campfire, homemade ice cream, camping in the back yard, or any other prize within our budget. This does not have to be expensive.
Growing a garden teaches incredible life lessons. Yes, they are work, but they can also be very rewarding. Have children choose a root vegetable, an above ground vegetable, and a berry. Teach them how to cultivate and care for the plant. When harvest time comes, help them learn how to preserve and how to prepare the vegetable. Children can do a theme garden such as a pizza, salsa, taco, garden and grow the vegetables needed to prepare their favorite food. Children can have one bed for re-growing kitchen vegetable refuse, such as green onion tips, celery bases, or lettuce bases. Children can grow trellised vegetables. They can learn to grow things from cuttings.
Children are outside getting sun and fresh air. They are also learning science! Children can do nature studies in the garden. Let the children draw the plants and bugs. Let them take photos and learn about the plants, birds and bugs. They could keep a garden journal or they could even create a book about their garden.
Summer is the perfect time for Entrepreneurship. While children work for neighbors, children gain valuable work skills. They also continue to strengthen math skills as they budget for resources to use as an entrepreneur and as they begin to have income. Summer entrepreneurship does not have to be a lemonade stand.
Summer entrepreneurship ideas for children:
Vacation pet feeding
Vacation indoor plant watering
Vacation yard care
Garbage cans to the street and back
Dusting and vacuuming for neighbors
Neighborhood popcicle sales
Artisan bread baking
Summer holiday pie baking
Birthday parties for young children
Art classes for younger children
Summer Photo Journals
Most of us have cameras on our phones. Let children take pictures of the activities you do during the summer, including service projects, gardening, and even doing dishes together.
One summer I picked up in expensive clear vinyl photo books at Walmart and some hard cover ones at the Dollar Store. On a two page spread a picture can be placed on one side and a little write up about the activity can be placed on the facing page. This makes a summer treasury and you can even put tickect stubs or receipts from places visited.
Children can learn to blog. They can learn all kinds of keyboard skills and even photo editing. Children can treat the blog like a family news channel and report on the mundane and the magical times together as a family. All the while they are getting their thoughts into print and learning digital skills.
Backyard Family Camp
Camping can be fun. Start with a backyard summer camp. Plan a week of activities, include crafts, neighborhood nature scavenger hunt, star gazing, learn to read a compass, cooking outside, eating outside, learning out door skills, having an outdoor skill competition, water games, croquet, lawn bowling, and evening campfires with singing, stories, and s'mores. Create a camp motto and song, even a camp t-shirt and flag. Children can also have camp journals they can decorate. Back yard camp can become a family tradition and as children grow and marry, grandchildren can come to Camp Grandma.
A Poetry Luncheon does not have to be expensive. It could be very simple, finger sandwiches, berry lemonade, and chilled fruit. Family members could read poems for two voices. Each family member could recite a poem they memorized the previous week. Moms could do a Mom & me club and do a potluck luncheon and invite other families.
Family Recital Night
Family recital nights can be great fun, especially when mom and dad surprise the children and prepare something to share. The recital could be as simple as scripture recitations, a musical piece someone has worked on, perhaps something they have made with their hands, or they could draw odd topics from a bowl and do a stand up 2-3 minute speech or song on that topic.
If your family has people learning instruments or singing you could have a family recital and invite neighbors or grandparents. If your family is into creating art, the family could have an end of summer art show in the yard and invite friends.
Puzzles and Games
On those hot July and August Days when they do not want to be in the heat, consider puzzles and games. Any kind of game that has to keep score uses math, some more directly than others. Some games teach strategy and can help hone their observational skills. Some games test their general knowledge, some test their geographical knowledge, and others are great for spelling.
When summer ends, your children could keep their hard earned academic progress just by finding natural ways to use the knowledge as tools. Who knows, they may even progress further by leveraging their interests.
What are some ways you have Summer Schooled outside the box and embraced learning in context?