Seven Tips For Learning At Home This Summer (and during the school year too!)
We are mid-way through our summer.
We have splashed in the water. We have played in the waves. We have gotten the mosquito bites.
We are now fully in the swing of all of the summer things.
I went into June with specific priorities for our summer learning this year.
Keep a schedule (my kiddos need structure – no need to pretend this should be different because it’s our break)
Don’t compare (no looking at Facebook, seeing the pictures of other family vacations and then feeling bad about our plans – we are doing summer in a way that works for us)
Have Some Fun (and I mean me, not just the kids – this is my break too!)
Midway through, I can see that having a prioritized plan for the summer is making a difference.
Here is what I have learned so far.
Seven Tips For Learning At Home This Summer
A Theme Makes It Easier On Mom
Having a “Summer At Hogwarts” theme for learning has made my life so much easier. There is something about thematic learning that ties all the things together, both for the learner, and for the mom who needs to come up with a plan.
Having a theme for our summer has allowed me to let go of all the possibilities and focus only on the books, field trips and activities that fit within our focus on Harry Potter. The kids have LOVED it and I haven’t felt so overwhelmed by all the Pinterest projects and crafts I see online.
Hands-on and Messy Work Best In The Summer
The truth is, my children learn best with hands-on activities. Because of this, I try to incorporate them year-round, often at the expense of my own sanity (I am still scraping ceramics clay off the ceilings from last October, y’all).
Summer makes this part of our learning so much easier. The weather allows for everything to be done outside and the hose can be used to clean up the mess (including the mess on my boys!). Almost everyday this summer, we have done something messy outside. Science experiments, making slime, giant bubbles, baking soda volcanos – all can be done with very little effort and fuss this time of year.
Plan More Downtime
Although my kids crave structure, I have been intentional about planning a lot more downtime than usual into our routine. It has not always gone well, but as the weeks progress, I find that I am actually able to say to my boys, “This is our time to relax and cool off a bit,” and not have a total mutiny.
I find I actually feel more rested, despite all the projects and sun. It’s been wonderful for all of us.
Professional Development For Mom
I totally stole this idea from Cait at My Little Poppies. She plans for her own learning during the summer and calls it “poolside professional development.” She’s a genius.
I had been meaning to read a bit more about ways to accommodate learning differences in a more formal school setting. I also needed to know more about creating high school transcripts as a homeschooler (how my son is entering 9th grade this fall, I have no idea, but here we are). Cait’s idea gave me permission to take the summer for my own learning and investment. Plus, I may have thrown in a few fun books to read too, because it’s obviously important that my children’s’ teacher be well-rounded. 😉
Plan For Friends
Oh my goodness, because children in traditional schools are out for the summer, their moms are ready for a break right about now. This has worked to my advantage. We can have a friend over, do the science experiment we had planned already, and my boys think it is more game than learning, just because another kiddo is with us. I look like a hero to the other child and his mom, my kids are happy and engaged, and we all get some much-needed social interaction.
Let It Go
Some of the things I had planned have not worked. Like not at all. I have decided to just let them go and move on. If my kids aren’t interested in heading to the library for the career day as planned, whatevs. It’s summer. We can always watch Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows again instead.
Jump In With The Kids
This has been my favorite part of this summer. I want to enjoy these boys, especially now, as they are growing into men right before my very eyes. The reality is, they may not be willing to run through the sprinkler next year, so this year, I am running through it with them. I am having water balloon fights and getting slime all over my hands. I have glitter up and down my arms and my hair is wild, but I am genuinely having fun.
I am having water balloon fights and getting slime all over my hands. I have glitter up and down my arms and my hair is wild, but I am genuinely having fun.
This summer has been one of the best for my children, and for me, and not because of all the things we have done or the trips we took.
Honestly, this summer has been the best because of all the things we didn’t do.
We are doing what works for us, in a manner that works best for us. And the more summer progresses, the more I realize this can and should be a part of our plan year-round.
Our school year formally begins in August. You can bet I am planning another theme for the fall, scheduling a regular “downtime” for us, and coming up with ideas to allow me to join in more activities with my boys.
I honestly can’t wait.
And speaking of planning…
Please join me at Simple Homeschool this week, where I share more about how my homeschool plan is changing for the upcoming school year.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.