Summer Homeschooling

Homeschoolers often fall into one of two camps about summer. Some take the summer off as a break, and some school right through, doing the same things they do all year long. I’m in a third camp. At my house, we change things up for summer. We take a break from our regular lessons but we are still doing things.

Younger Kids

When my kids were little, summer was for two things: unit studies and swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are important to me because it is a life-saving skill that promotes whole-body strength and coordination. Every summer for many years, my kids did at least one round of lessons, and we followed those up with trips to a local pool to practice those skills. Our local recreation center offered affordable swim lessons, so those were what we went with.

For unit studies, I often chose a theme to last all summer. My favorite memory is of a summer we did a unit study on the ocean. Every week, I took the kids to the public library and chose picture books about a specific animal of the ocean. There were so many to choose from! Fish, whales, dolphins, sea stars, jellyfish, clams. The list goes on and on.

Once I had the books for the week, I would look online for craft ideas. We would make a version of our animal from paper and I would tape them to our school room wall. By pure luck, the wall was painted blue, and by the end of that summer, it was covered in ocean creatures. I then came up with other activities that went with the stories we were reading. We set up a kiddie pool and performed experiments to see what would sink or float. We made boats out of household stuff. I even hid sea shells in their sandbox for a treasure hunt.

We also took field trips to look at fish and ocean life. The pet store was local and free. We also visited an aquarium that summer and, eventually, went to the beach. It was a great summer!

There are lots of choices for these kinds of unit studies. Space and all that is out there is neat to study. You can also spend a whole summer studying Africa, Australia or China. Not only can you study the animals, language, and culture, but you can try new foods to go with the unit.

Older Students

As my children turned into teenagers, we shifted away from the cute units based on many picture books, to doing units based on a single chapter book at a time. These were the inspiration for my Green levels. However, I also did lots of units that were not as well-rounded as what I offer here. There were times we read a book and just made lots of crafts to go with it. There were books that we read and discussed and just made up fun things to go with them. It depended on the book and the children.

The goal for me with these units was to make sure my kids were learning to love reading and to make connections beyond the book. I wanted them to love reading and connect what they read to the world around them. During the school year, much of what we read was focused on learning history or other topics. This summer reading was more about joy and fun.

High School

You would think we would have given up changing things up for summer at this age, but we haven’t. However, with the goal of creating credits to go on transcripts, I do approach summer differently at this age. Often, we have set aside most of our school work and used the summer to focus on just one subject area. A whole summer of nothing but math, helped us catch up in that subject. A whole summer focused on music camps and lessons can become enough hours for a credit. A summer focused on just learning a foreign language can lend itself to finding time to not just learn the language, but use the extra time to take field trips or cook foods that bring the cultural studies part of a foreign language alive.

Summer is Great

Whatever you do with your summer, try to enjoy it. If your summer weather is pleasant, make time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Don’t let your worries about academics take away the joy of just hanging out with your kids this summer.

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About the Author

nimble_asset_Laura-in-floral-shirt-with-treesLaura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator, and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

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