Monday, July 21, 2014

The Benefits of Summer School

Summer School. Talk about some mixed feelings! 

When I was a kid, summer school was for the kids that had somehow messed up so badly during the regular school year that they were forced to attend classes while the rest of us were sunning and swimming, and it was definitely seen as a very negative thing. So I've got that connotation in my own head, which sometimes makes me feel like Mean Mom when I expect my kids to do any kind of schoolwork during the summer. But I'm not sure that the general idea of summer school still has as much negativity attached to it. So yeah, my kids do give me that groan reaction when I mention school during July or August, but it's not the same level of horror and revulsion that I would have had at their age!


Besides, for homeschoolers, there's not a huge difference in what a typical day looks like in September or February compared to a typical day in July. We don't have co-op classes going on and some of the activities we usually do are on hiatus during the summer, but the bottom line is that mom and kids are pretty much home during the day. So why not get some schoolwork done? Maybe there are some things from the year just finished that aren't actually finished and need to be. (Okay, there's no "maybe" about that at our house most years, and this year is no exception!) Maybe it's a good idea to get a head start on some of the courses slated for the coming school year. Maybe doing just a little math or reading during the break will keep it fresh and reduce the amount of time that will be needed for review come September. Maybe we need a little bit of structure and schedule even though we're taking it easy. (Isn't that one of the most common refrains during all Back to School discussions? "We are really looking forward to getting back to a routine/schedule when school starts." Hey, homeschoolers look forward to a bit more structure after vacation too!) And maybe, just maybe, there are some educational things we could do when the weather turns miserable or when it's just too hot to really enjoy being outside.

Here's what "Summer School" looks like for us this year.

Finishing up from last year. Despite our best intentions, we still didn't quite finish science, so that's something I have been expecting both kids to work on during the summer. With Kennady, it's not that big a deal - she worked on science all through the school year (often reluctantly and slowly, but still) and what she got done is what she got done. With Landon, that was a high school biology credit, so I require him to finish all of the text and written work so that the credit was fairly earned. We are also carrying over some of the projects from our Social Studies into the summer - a couple of art projects and some of the Eating The Americas recipes we wanted to try.

Head start for next year. At this point, the head start is thanks to our involvement with reviewing curriculum products through the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Kennady has done a Literature study on The Hobbit, and a Science unit study on Weather and Climate which was a great introduction to the meteorology focus she requested for her Grade 8 Science. (See our review of Moving Beyond the Page) Landon is working on a Lightning Lit study of Uncle Tom's Cabin which will count towards a credit in American Lit for his Grade 10 year. He is also working on some grammar as we are preparing our review of Analytical Grammar. (Both of those reviews will appear sometime next week!)


Keeping it fresh. I really like the kids to keep reading during the summer, and a little extra motivation is sometimes in order. Kennady needs little motivation, but perhaps some direction - I like that she read The Hobbit during summer break, and it got her interested in reading other quality literature rather than just reading junk. Landon doesn't like to read as much, so requiring him to get through Uncle Tom's Cabin is good for him. Both kids have had a good break from math, but very soon they will be required to start working on it again, just to make sure they don't get stupid errrrr rusty from leaving it too long.

Routine is a good thing. I'm tellin' you - these kids would sleep all the livelong day if I let them. So would I, if the coffee wasn't calling my name! Yes, I let them sleep later during the summer, but there comes a time (usually 10 o'clock) when I think they've slept enough and any further snoozing should be done when it's dark outside. Not that I'm opposed to a power nap now and again - I actually thoroughly enjoy napping! Kennady continues music lessons through the summer, and Landon continues Civil Air Patrol through the summer, and both of those things give a little structure to the week. Having some regular chores to do and some schoolwork to do prevents us all from getting into the habit of total bump-on-a-log laziness. Relaxed pace? Definitely. Plenty of unstructured time to kick back? Certainly? Doing absolutely nothing useful for days at a time? No. Not good for them, and not good for me either.
A little relaxed summer school also helps us out when we take family vacation during the fall, as we often do.  Generally, I like to ease into the school year starting sometime in August, with one or two courses that we start before adding all the rest. That approach also eases the pressure of "keeping up" when we inevitably take a slightly longer break than we'd originally intended around Thanksgiving or Christmas.
What are summer studies like in your homeschool? Leave a comment and let me know! Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog (this link will be live on Wednesday, July 23rd) to see other Crew members' ideas for Summer Studies. You can also visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog homepage to see lots of product reviews, and past blog cruise topics.
Click to read Crew Reviews

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Unknown said...

Summer school? Well...We went to the wildlife park and kayak and and cook and care for the chickens and ducks...explore the ocean, spend time with family and go to band, watch movies. (I haven't even ordered books for next year yet!)

Kym said...

that sounds like a wonderful way to do summer school!

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