‘Tis the season to field the question: “When does school start back up for you guys?”
Truth is, we have kept an abbreviated homeschool schedule throughout the summer months. Daily reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, in addition to the occasional history and science lessons, have kept us on track and will (God willing!) prevent our typical summer atrophy and horrendous autumnal adjustment.
My aim is to foster an inquisitive, teachable spirit in each of my children, to shape them into life-long learners. In the same way that I sneak spinach into their smoothies, and squash into their baked treats, keeping the kidlets actively engaged and enthusiastic about learning during the summer months requires serious strategy from this unhip, frumpy Mommy.
The key, for us, is to keep our studies fun… heavy on visual and tactile aids; experiential, interest-led learning.
We try to tackle math first thing, most days, and flank it with creative and/or physical play (and often a popsicle), as it’s certainly the most rigorous of our curriculum
and I fear passing on my own disdain for the subject.We stick to our normal, school-year curriculum, but throw in heaps of games like Phase10, Uno, and Skipbo. The girls also sharpened their skills via money management lessons, after earning wages through a string of pet-sitting gigs.
I try to be opportunistic with writing lessons, supplementing their daily journal entries, regular pen-pal correspondence, and mandatory thank-you notes with impromptu formal lessons.
They read independently for leisure, and we are still enjoying the Little House series as a family. I permit the girls to select almost any book that will capture their attention for their solo reading, so we have a lot of Minecraft and mermaid novels floating around our bookshelves. I don’t sweat the “fluff” reading because I select the texts we read aloud and generally favor the classics. The point for me is that they enjoy it. The girls also read to Little Man daily, as his quota generally exceeds twenty pictures books per day. I also find the key in encouraging my kids’ reading is to have an abundance of literature readily available, handy in every room of the house.
Science studies are geared around current fascinations– for instance marine biology & conchology –the study of shells– for my mermaid and manatee obsessed pupils. They enjoyed a big field trip to explore these interests further, at the beginning of summer, and we are planning another to our favorite oceanside aquarium in Oregon during our upcoming annual visit.
We continue to press onward, chronologically, through an overview of world history that we utilize year-round. We are currently studying Alexander the Great, c. 336 BC– which we especially enjoy since Daddy is also an Alexander and undeniably also quite great. We move slowly through history, taking time to derail for persons/places of special interest. For example, did you know that Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II of Macedonia, hired THE Aristotle to tutor young Alex? Aristotle’s former teacher, Plato, was actually named Aristocles– his famous moniker merely a nick-name meaning “broad shouldered”… and, of course, we know that HIS teacher was Socrates. hashtag fascinating
Additional teaching topics have included cooking, art, and gardening lessons, earning and managing money, exploring our region (and actually reading the placards!), observing nature, and planning Halloween costumes already (because #homeschool).
When we aren’t hosting houseguests, or out on some adventure, we generally just want to stay put here at home. And if we are going to be here all day, anyway, we might as well be learning… amiright? So long as I make an effort to keep the lessons light-hearted and fun, I find my students to be cooperative and teachable, and less likely to complain of boredom or quarrel.