Blog Contributor, Family, Homeschooling, Lifestyle, Parenting

Summer Fun and Learning

As homeschoolers, we don’t have the traditional out of school summers. Although we don’t continue our full schedule during the summer months, we do continue to actively engage in educational activities. When my children were younger, we always participated in our local library’s summer reading program. We also participated in the reading programs offered through bookstores like Barnes and Noble or Books a Million. My children would set reading goals and receive prizes when they reached those goals. One summer, my daughter was the grand prize winner in her age group and received a very nice prize package from our local library. As my children grew up and started to read more in depth literature, I created my own reading challenges for them. I would also give them prizes when they reached their goals. They could “win” a video game that they wanted or go out to eat at their favorite restaurant as a prize, and many other creative prizes over the years.

Another summer activity that my children loved when they were younger was Vacation Bible School offered through the various churches in our community.  They would have crafts, bible lessons and physical activities as well as snacks. This was a wonderful way for my children to have the opportunity to interact with other children outside our home during the summer. They formed many friendships because the same children participated in these programs every year.

My kids also participated in a camp at a local church. It was called Camp Piney. The adults were great with children. My kids were familiar with the adults running the camp because it was the same church that held a large Vacation Bible School that my kids attended every year. They got to choose the activities that they wanted to participate in every day at Camp Piney. They did really cool activities like learning to play different sports, arts and crafts, woodworking, horseback riding, archery, etc. My kids loved Camp Piney.

When my children were younger, I would sign them up for swimming lessons every summer.  Even after they learned to swim, I continued to sign them up for the classes because they just continued to learn about safety and became better swimmers.  In fact, I took the adult classes myself several times. I could already swim but, I wanted to be able to rescue my children if they ever got into trouble in the water. Also, I took the classes because I had a niece that had almost drowned and was afraid of the water. I signed up with her to help her overcome her fear. By the end of the classes, she was swimming like a fish. Then, I took the classes again with my best friend because she was also afraid to swim. She would miss out on family fun because her kids could swim but, she just sat out on the side of the pool and watched them having fun.  After we took the class together, she was much more comfortable in the water. I am a firm believer that everyone needs to learn to swim. We hear about drowning deaths every summer. I believe that even babies should be taught how to float on their backs in case they ever fall into a pool.  Knowing how to float can keep them alive until an adult intervenes.

I am homeschooling teenagers now but, I still believe in reading over the summer. In fact, Reading and Math are two subjects that I believe you should continue during summer months because kids will lose a lot of information over the summer and you’ll have to use time remediating them when school resumes. So, although we have a lighter schedule, we continue to learn during the summer. During the school year, I have an assigned reading list for my children.

Our summer reading is more for fun than education. As long as they are reading, it’s cool with me. This summer, my son took the ACT on June 9th. So, we’ve been reviewing the Math that he was being tested on by doing practice tests.

I also use the summer months to teach life lessons and financial literacy. For example, this summer my husband will be teaching driver’s education for both of our teens. My son is already a licensed driver but, he needs more experience on the interstate and driving to neighboring cities. My daughter will be 15 in November and she will be getting her learner’s permit.

I am also teaching my kids how to be more responsible with chores around the house.  I want them to learn how to manage a home on their own. They will be learning to cook, clean and pay the bills. I am also teaching them about financial literacy. They are learning to save and invest their money. My son is ready for his first job. I will be teaching him about appropriate attire and interview skills. Mind you, I’ve been teaching my kids all of these skills throughout their lives. I am just realizing that they are about to be out of the house and I want to be sure that they can function without me. So, I’m taking a back seat and allowing them to run things around our house. In addition, my son is participating in a tennis camp for two weeks. My daughter and I have been taking sewing and embroidery classes this summer. I also want them to learn how to plant and grow their own vegetable garden. We are helping my cousin with his this summer. Next summer, we will attempt to grow our own.

Summer is fun time too. We always make time for lots of fun during the summer months. We enjoy swimming, bowling, roller skating and going to movies at our local drive in theater. When my kids were younger, a favorite fun place was local parks. We played in every park within a 50 mile radius of our home. There’s nothing like a day in the park with some great playground equipment to create wonderful family memories.

Education is not something that just stops when summer begins. We are always learning. Kids really love to learn when it involves activities that interest them. So, I just follow my kid’s interests. We manage to have loads of fun while continuing our homeschooling learning adventure.

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