Summer Learning

One question homeschoolers often ask each other is, “Will you do school during the summer?” For us, the answer is… some of the time.  We take vacations when it suits us even when (or maybe especially when!) public school kids are in school.  We also take vacation trips in the summer since some of our the kids’ cousins don’t homeschool and we try to catch up with them once a year (and they live out in California, so we generally have to travel to meet up with them somewhere). 

Some homeschoolers have quite a strict schedule with 6 weeks on 1 week off all through the year. Our homeschool just ebbs and flows.  Right now and this summer we’ll do a lighter version of school, focusing on some skills we haven’t focused on (music, typing, critical thinking, etc.) and a much lighter version of math and writing. When the kids go to camp, we won’t do much if any school.

In this post I’m going to bunch what we’ve been doing the past few weeks in with some of the things we plan to do when we’re around this summer.

I’ll start with ED, my preschooler:

Reading: This year ED read through all the (free) Sam Books.  There are 52 readers in all. (I printed them free from Dr. Marriott’s website.) Now she has moved on to primary phonics readers by EPS. She does one each day and has just started reading some vowel teams — like oa (boat), (ea) eat and things like that. She’ll continue reading one book per day even throughout the summer. We’ll also go back and start back up with the Bob Books and I made up some worksheets (similar in style to the first set of Bob Book worksheets I made last year, but that go along with Set 2).  These will be relatively easy for her, but I want her to feel good about her reading skills.

Writing: While ED hasn’t been using her handwriting without tears book lately, she has joined my older two writing stories.  I read a book over my vacation that has really transformed the way I approach our writing time.  I couldn’t believe the first day I included her in independent writing. She drew a picture and wrote out several complete sentences by herself without blinking.

Math: ED continues to work on a math lapbook. I’m not quite ready to share the download as I’ve still been tweaking things as we go and have a section on games yet to add in, but she’s been working regularly on that. Her lapbook has things like doubling (up to 9s), skip counting, odd and even numbers, days of the week, months of the year and things like that.  After that I’ll be trying to get a bunch of math games ready for her workboxs. I only have one picture from a while back, but it gives you a glimpse of the kinds of things in her math lapbook…

Science: We’ve been going outside A LOT — and I guess the only science we’re doing relates to the natural science outside… checking out the tadpoles, toads and frogs… looking for cicadas and things like that!

History: ED hasn’t been joining in on our history time. I’ve been reading to the older kids and although she’s in the room, she just plays quietly on her own. I never force the issue. More about history below.

Music: This summer I really want to do some fun music with the kids.  I wrote up a lot of camp and folk songs we’ll sing together. And, I want to work with ED on the glockenspiel. Music has largely been pushed to the back burner this year so I hope to focus on that (in a fun way) over the next couple of months.

Now on to DD and LD (ages 7 and 9… almost 10):

Writing: I am SO SO SO excited with the new approach we have to writing!!! I have searched for years for something that works for us. I think this will have to be a post to itself, but I started with a new approach about two weeks ago and things have been going really well (even for LD, who has never like writing! Hooray!).

Math: They are both continuing along with math… we’re using Spectrum math workbooks and Singapore math for both the kids. I never hear anyone talk about Spectrum math in their homeschool, but they’ve been great for us. I generally mark out 1-5 problems for the kids to practice on each general skill. So for example, DD did 5 subtraction problems and 5 multiplication problems today… You can see from the book how the pages are marked with different symbols (from different days):

Meanwhile LD started a big unit on fractions a couple of months ago. He usually does a couple of different types of fraction problems (reducing fractions, multiplying fractions, adding unlike fractions, etc.) plus he does a few problems of something else (multiplication, subtraction, addition or whatever).

Anyway, that’s what we have fallen into the habit of doing. If you are looking for something to keep your kids’ math skills up this summer I would recommend these Spectrum workbooks. They are straight forward and relatively inexpensive (under $10). I’ve also been trying to find some good math games for the kids… more about that another time!

We’ll continue with math and writing this summer–doing two days of each and one day of critical thinking and/or games each week.  Even if the kids only do a few math problems each time, they’re still keeping the material fresh in their minds.

History: This past year we focused on Africa and this next year we’re going to learn about some countries in Asia–China, India and Japan. But, I really want to be sure we touch on American history. I pulled out some textbooks I have from teaching ESL American History years ago.  There are two small/short textbooks (volumes one and two) called America’s Story. We started reading a chapter each day. The language is simple, but they have been perfect to give a brief overview of American history in a relatively short amount of time. I want the kids to be able to stick pieces together since we’ve gone to places like Jamestown, Philadelphia (Independence Hall), Antietam and some other Civil War battlefields, Davy Crockett’s home… and things like that.

While these short history books are perfect for an overview, I wouldn’t recommend them for anyone who wants to go into depth with American History. But on the other hand, I have to add that the kids are really enjoying these. Because I have a good history background, the short chapter is a springboard for me to add in lots of stories and details of my own. (In the photo below I have older versions of the textbook).

We’ve also been reading from these American history choose your own adventure books (also pictured above).  We’ve chosen several adventures from the Revolutionary War and the kids really liked those! If your child is a history buff, I bet they would really enjoy these books!

Typing: The kids worked on typing at the end of last year (April-June) for a couple of months, but we didn’t ever add it back in this school year. For the past month, they’ve been doing a lesson or two a day from the free BBC website: Dance Mat Typing.

They’ll probably finish with Dance Mat Typing before moving back to Typing Instructor (roughly $10 at Amazon) which we bought last year:

Music: As I mentioned above, this summer we’re going to do more with music.  That got brushed to the side this year. We’ll be singing camp-type songs just for fun (I made a packet that I’ll share soon). ED is learning the glockenspiel, DD is learning the piano and LD is picking his trumpet back up after a long break.

Reading: Funny enough, it happens so naturally I almost forgot to mention that the kids always start off their day reading while eating breakfast. We won’t be participating in any summer reading programs (see my post on Why You Shouldn’t Reward Kids for Learning) why we choose not to do that.

Plus, we’re still have our read aloud books (we’re still reading through all the books in the Chronicles of Narnia). We’ll download a couple more books to listen to in the car as well (we listened to Pippi Longstocking and The Tales of Despereaux in the car this past month).

Summer Stuff: LD does team gymnastics and the summer training is 4 days a week in the evenings. That leaves lots of times for playdates and stuff during the day so he’s happy about that.  ED also does gymnastics and will still be doing her two classes a week. She loves it because her best friend is in her class.  DD fell in love with a local sports class where they jump up onto/over huge cushions and blocks, climb, jump on a tumble track and trampoline… plus they play fun games like “werewolf tag.”  She’s really loving that and goes to a couple of classes each week.  We also go swimming lots in the summer. With that, playdates and a round of day camp (Junior Rangers) it’s going to be a full, fun summer!

So, that’s about it for now! ~Liesl

2 Responses

  1. June 18, 2013

    […] importance of play over at the (free online) unschooling summit. Despite yesterday’s post, Summer Learning, where I talked about the academic focus of our homeschool, the truth is my children play a lot […]

  2. July 1, 2014

    […] these educational apps, which at least turn screen time into learning time. And check out ideas here and here, along with a video chat with Soleil Moon Frye (the former star of “Blossom”) […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *