Summer is here! For homeschool families this may mean a break from your normal school routine, but it doesn’t have to be a break from learning. In fact, summer is the perfect time of year to explore the many educational opportunities that exist outside your home, or to allow your students the chance to pursue their own interests. Here’s a list of some things to do during the summer with your homeschoolers so they can put into practice the skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout the regular school year – and make sure it’s still fresh in their minds when fall rolls around again.
Farmer’s markets are in abundance during the summer months and are a great place to learn while also enjoying some fresh air. Give your kids a grocery list and a budget and have them shop for family dinner or encourage them to pick out something new for the whole family to try. Use what you buy to prepare a meal together so that younger children can learn how to read a recipe, or have your older children prepare a meal on their own to see how science and math are used in everyday life. Sites like LocalHarvest.org can help you find a Farmer’s market in your area.
While you may have to stick to a prescribed curriculum during the school year, your students can use the summertime to explore areas of study that are of personal interest. Maybe it’s computer science, foreign language, or even theater – encourage them to seek out something new and interesting! Many libraries and community centers offer summer programs for children of all ages, and there is certainly no shortage of online resources that will expose students to new ideas, skills, and subject areas. To start, see if your local library participates in the Collaborative Summer Library Program or peruse some of their free resources for reading material, films, or other activities that will rev up your kids’ creative engines.
There’s no denying it – college is expensive, and if you have college-bound kiddos with a love for learning, you can save a lot of hard-earned money by having them earn credit for college classes before they even set foot on campus. CollegeBoard’s CLEP and DSST exams allow students to test out of certain classes and can be taken at a fraction of the cost of a full college course. You can find resources, such as Study.com’s CLEP and DSST prep courses, that align with the exams so your kids are sure to learn what they need to pass the tests. Sites like Study.com make summer learning fun by presenting lessons in a short video format, so learning can be worked in around other summer plans and make your kids’ screen time beneficial!
Though it’s not strictly academic, volunteering can teach kids of all ages life lessons that are just as valuable as those found in their textbooks. Through volunteering, children can learn the importance of service and commitment, and it can help them develop a greater sense of responsibility. The opportunities are plentiful; animal shelters are almost always in need of volunteers to walk the dogs in their care, and some even have programs that allow younger children to read picture books to furry audience members. Spending a few hours serving the community at a local food bank or homeless shelter is a learning experience for the entire family, and even helping out elderly neighbors with yardwork or simple house maintenance can be a valuable way to give back to the community! Sites such as VolunteerMatch can help you find local volunteer opportunities in a wide variety of sectors like advocacy, education, and the arts.
While it’s understandable that parents want to keep their children’s minds and bodies occupied even when school is no longer formally in session, recent research suggests that letting them be bored (occasionally!) is also important. Boredom allows children to truly delve into their creativity and develop their imaginations, as they often turn to drawing or writing stories to occupy themselves. It may seem strange to schedule a day off from pre-planned activities (and turn off the technology) but downtime should be made a priority as well.