Summer is a time when traditional schools close for vacation. Many homeschoolers take a break in the summer months, too. And like parents of school children, they sometimes worry about how much their children may forget during those weeks away.
But even when your regular homeschool routine changes in the summer, your kids are still learning. Here are some ideas and enrichment activities to keep homeschooling kids busy all summer long!
1. Practice math and engineering with a building project.
Summer is when kids have to most freedom to plan and built big projects of their own. In the country, a treehouse or fort in the woods is standard, but city kids can get the same thrill from assembling a temporary shelter using PVC pipes and fittings. (Get them from the plumbing section of your local hardware store).
If you're at the beach, engineering a sand castle means learning about the best use of materials and the effect of water on a structure. Even cardboard boxes and tape can be turned into their own arcade or castle. There are probably piles of items and materials around your house that can become the basis of a summer-long project!
2. Set a summer reading goal.
Libraries and bookstores often have summer reading programs, where participants can usually earn prizes -- including free books -- and sometimes enjoy an end-of-summer party. Beware of making reading a job, though. Programs that make kids sign off on a certain number of pages can actually make reading seem like a chore instead of a treat.
My own sons were always voracious readers, and simply couldn't be bothered keeping up with the programs in our area. They kept up with their reading on their own and with their friends in their homeschool book club. Summer's a great time to encourage kids to read whatever interests them, and build their reading skills through practice and enjoyment.
3. Try some outdoor science.
Summer is a great time to try those experiments that seemed too messy for the dining room. Let the kids take them outdoors, where you can hose any mess away. It's also the perfect time to encourage children to explore nature or investigate the environment.
NOTE: You still need to make sure your scientists are wearing proper protection -- closed shoes, safety goggles -- if needed. And dispose of any chemicals that might be harmful to plants or animals down the drain, not outside.
4. Take a historical field trip.
Put away the books and get out and see where history took really place. Chances are there are museums and historical sites not far from where you live. If you travel, add some side trips to nearby attractions. You can plan your personal field trip the same way you would for a group -- including contacting sites beforehand to find out what programs might be available for the kids.
Help kids prepare by reading up on where you'll be. Bring cameras or sketchbooks and have them create images of their favorite parts. When they get home, help your kids put together a scrapbook to record the highlights of their trip.
5. Find educational camps and workshops.
Since my kids spent the bulk of the year learning at home, I thought summer was a good time to let them see what a more formal learning environment was like. They did programs in theater, robot building and film making. Some lasted only a few mornings, others involved an entire month away from home.
Many libraries also offer kids' activities and workshops during the summer, and they're often free. If your kids are curious about the school experience, these programs are a great way to let them enjoy working with a group without the pressure of tests and grades.