Ever wondered about an effective yet light summer schedule for your family? As one mom wrote, “I’m wanting to continue school ‘lightly’ and very flexible through summer, but I know if I don’t have a goal, nothing will get done.”
Our blog post about summer homeschool ideas shows that we like to be realistic yet structured about summer break. You have two extremes to avoid here.
One extreme is to push your children too hard until they burn out.
On the other hand, countless homeschool families will tell you that an extended summer break actually hurt their children’s academic performances once they returned to school. Lessons had been forgotten and needed to be retaken. Kids were sluggish and unwilling to begin new classes.
To find the happy middle between these extremes, most area homeschoolers find that a light summer schedule works best. Keep academic work visible, but move it to the background and allow time for fun and summer recreation.
Here’s a number of real-life scenarios that you can tailor to your family:
Light summer schedule 1: One or two subjects a day.
Instead of front-loading everything, homeschool families often choose to focus daily on just one (or two) subjects. Favorite subjects include math, reading, handwriting, and Bible study.
Bonus tip: Even if you’re doing the same subjects, you can switch it up with different activities. One mom does math flash cards on “reading” days, then audiobooks on “math” days.
This is also a great time to drill into any areas of weaknesses that your children may be displaying. As one mom wrote, “If one of my kids is struggling with a subject, I might get freebie learning packets from Pinterest and spend some extra time with them.”
Light summer schedule 2: Use a quota system.
Some homeschoolers find that setting a certain number of minutes reading (or chapters finished) each day works best for their children.
“Even on vacation we had [our child] reading everyday,” wrote one homeschool mom. “Just set whatever goal you want and then the expectation will be set.”
Another family scheduled a weekly routine, with one math review and 1-2 pages from Handwriting Without Tears to be accomplished sometime during those seven days.
Light summer schedule 3: Transition workbooks.
Do you have children who like workbooks? While some students prefer hands-on activities, others like the structure and simplicity of working through papers and pre-planned lessons.
Many homeschool curricula offer transition or summer workbooks, which parents can purchase and then give to their children to do a few pages each day.
Light summer schedule 4: Summer camps and other clubs.
A number of area homeschoolers take advantage of local summer camps and enrichment programs to keep their children occupied!
Other options include Trail Life USA, which has a local troop chartered by MPE!
Please note: Due to COVID-19, many of these opportunities may be unavailable or re-envisioned this year.)
Light summer schedule 5: Contingency plans based on your family’s particular needs.
Accidents happen – in some cases, a broken arm or other limb! – so summer swim plans and other activities may have to be put on hold.
If your children are staying home more often than usual this year, try planning books, picnics and other adventures they can read and write about. Math games or board games can also keep them interested in learning.
Another family found that requiring at least half an hour of reading before screen time worked well to avoid summer brain drain.
Light summer schedule 6: Institute “half days.”
Maybe having a “subject quota” or set number of minutes isn’t working for your children. In which case, try a less rigid, but still structured, approach by splitting your summer school into half days!
One enterprising mom committed to a little math each day (which was quite an achievement since her son hated math!) as well as one or two other subjects, which she rotated to keep interesting.
“One day we did math, Bible and language one day, then all the little short stuff the other day, like spelling, reading, science and history,” she wrote. “That worked well, time wise it was pretty balanced, then we were doing essentially 2.5 lessons a week. He was very cooperative about only doing a ‘half day,’ and we got a lot done over the summer. It really did add up.”
Light summer schedule 7: Choose seasonal subjects like botany.
If your homeschool incorporates subjects like American history or botany, summer is a great time to concentrate on those! Maybe you’re planning some summer field trips to supplement your science and social studies, or just to explore nature trails and hiking trips.
“We also practice math facts sometimes in the car, sometimes as a game, sometimes on a tablet,” one homeschooler wrote. “For me it’s not structured, it’s just making sure every day includes learning and reinforcing what we already know.”
(BONUS) Make room for rote learning!
Summer can also be a great time for reinforcing lessons already learned – such as math facts and timetables, language rules, and spelling.
“My kids read and do flash cards or drill sheets during the summer,” said one mom. “I use it as a chance to work on basic facts and speed.”
We have updated this blog post, originally published in June 2016, for timeliness and detail.