Summer Learning

When you think about summer, you might envision long days at the swimming pool or camping in the woods. Your children are probably thinking: Freedom! No books, no math, no learning! Some of you parents are thinking about getting “caught up” on math or language arts because you want to finish that curriculum you spent money on before Fall arrives and your children move on to their new grade. Let’s think today about a compromise, a way to incorporate summertime learning with fun, and hopefully still have plenty of time for the pool!

I have always been a big proponent of taking the summers off of organized bookwork and instead enjoy the time exploring the great outdoors. But that doesn’t mean we stopped learning! One of the ways we chose to learn about something new each summer was joining 4-H. Our girls have learned a lot about forestry, geology, photography, and sewing during their summers. They have learned how to present their findings through making posters, and how to finish sewing projects with attention to fine details. Whatever venue or method you choose to use for summer learning, find something that is fun for both you and the kids!

If your kids are interested in horses, think about ways to get them learning more – without spending a lot of money. You might start at the library with books or movies, and end up visiting a local horse farm to see those magnificent creatures close up. While taking a traditional riding lesson can be expensive, you might be able to broker a deal for your older children. Near where we live there are several farms that keep horses. Some for 4-H and others just for personal riding. Some of our friends’ teens have exchanged Saturday morning stall-mucking time for basic riding lessons. If your neighbors with horses are busy during the week living their professional lives, they might be even more inclined to trade hard work for some horse riding time.

Perhaps your daughter loves art. Besides the traditional idea of art lessons, what could you do to encourage her to learn more about various art forms? Is pottery the draw, or maybe she loves the ideas of painting with acrylics or spinning wool. Ask around your local area and see if there are any artists who would allow her to come watch them work in their studio. If she develops a working relationship with the artist they may end up becoming her mentor. A win-win situation where they learn the fun and the work side of art.

If your son wants to learn more about outdoor survival skills, summer offers the prime opportunity to learn without the confines of a clock. And lest you think this is just for boys – girls love these skills too! Pick up a copy of The Daring Book for Boys or one of the many survivalist style books available today. Let them learn at their own pace, but feel free to join in. Similar to what my generation learned in Boy and Girl Scouts, these camping, hiking, and orienteering skills will serve them well for a lifetime. Whether you live deep in the city or out in a rural area, there is a whole world full of nature to be explored outside your front door.

For those of you that homeschool year-round, let your children have a greater say in what learning happens during the summer. You can still keep plugging away at long division, just don’t let it steal away the joy of chasing lightening bugs, turning over rocks, or snapping pictures of the sunsets.

Summertime learning can be fun, and educational. Just keep focused on the fun!

A big thank you to Carol of Home Sweet Life for writing this article.

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