Summer Learning….It’s All Been Arranged

One of the best things about summer is that it reminds us that educating our children is not just up to us.

You’ll see this when you watch your child at the beach. I get to do this a lot because we’re blessed to have a beach a few blocks from our house. We can spend a lot of time there during the two warm months that comprise summer in northeast Wisconsin.

At the beach, my son takes his shovel and bucket and creates mountains, castles, roads, levees….he just lets his imagination loose and he has a ball. I don’t have to participate at all. In fact, now that he’s older, he prefers that I butt out! He has his own ideas.

When I watch him problem-solve after the tide takes down part of a wall of his castle, or when stray toddlers march through his masterpiece, leaving destruction in their wake, I’m reminded yet again that he’s capable of learning all on his own. He not only fixes the problem, but makes the project even better in the process.

Now, this particular son is 16 and developmentally delayed, but I saw the same thing in my older children when they were young, and I’m sure you see it in yours. God enables everyone to learn. While we homeschooling parents work hard to make a good learning environment for our children, it’s not up to us to make things happen. God has already taken care of that part.

This knowledge can be very freeing, if you’re a conscientious mom who wants to make sure her children learn what they need to know. This summer, give your children a bucket and a magnifying glass and take them to a pond so they can inspect the pond water for living creatures. Hand them a package of colored chalk and let them loose on the driveway or sidewalk. Don’t get involved in what they’re doing. Just watch, and you’ll see what I mean.

Entertaining Themselves

Being a homeschool mom means being on a schedule; there’s just no way around it. The many activities available to each of our children (music, sports, co-op, church, etc.) must be organized somehow, and we’re the ones responsible for that job.

It’s easy to stay in that groove during the summer. There may not be as many activities available as during the school year, but there’s certainly no shortage. Signing the kids up for summer activities can become something we do automatically. But that could be a mistake.

I’m old enough to remember a time when there were very few summer activities available to kids beyond swimming lessons at the community pool. What did kids do back then? We entertained ourselves!


We played games, we had races, we played Barbies, we played baseball.

We ran through the sprinkler, we drew on the sidewalk with chalk, we played hopscotch, we ran lemonade stands.

We rode our bikes, we read library books, we planted and weeded gardens, we played hide-and-seek.

We went to the park, we played on the front porch, we had Kool-Aid and cookies on the patio, and when it got dark, we played Ghost in the Graveyard on the corner under the streetlight.


And all the time we were doing those things, where were our moms? Not entertaining us, that’s where. They were used to having the day to themselves while we were in school, and they weren’t going to give that up. We were expected to be off playing while our moms were busy cooking, cleaning or watching soap operas. We weren’t very concerned about what our moms were doing, because we were having too much fun outside.

Kind of gets you thinking, doesn’t it?

One-on-One Time

As I said a few weeks ago, sometimes we do school in the summer, and sometimes we don’t. But in both cases, we have a much more relaxed schedule. It certainly helps that the church cuts back on activities for the summer, as does our homeschool group.

A looser schedule lets moms spend more one-on-one time with each child. Having four children, I found that I often looked at them as a group; the laid-back feeling of summer seemed to give me permission to take time alone with each of them, and we sure enjoyed that.

How to spend that time? That was never a problem with the girls. My eldest loved to go shopping with me, while my younger daughter preferred time spent doing something together, like baking or sewing.

As for the boys, my older son wasn’t as interested in spending time alone with good old Mom as he was having her take him somewhere he wanted to go or to get something he wanted without the whole gang trooping along. And that was fine; I learned that even time spent sitting in traffic and talking uninterrupted was good for both of us.

My younger son was used to having alone time with me every week because I drove him to a speech therapist an hour away. We’d sing in the car and stop for McDonald’s somewhere en route, and that was enough for him. However, he was also very happy to have my full attention on those rare occasions when my husband took the older three to an amusement park for the day, or the movies for an afternoon.

Spending time alone with your children, one on one, helps your relationship with each of them grow in a different way than when the whole group is together. Summertime is the perfect time to start a routine of occasional one-on one-time. Why not give it a try?

A Great Source for Homeschooling Supplies

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of money on new homeschooling books and curriculum, and it was worth it, no question. But I have to admit that I often found some of my best stuff while browsing at garage sales.

One year I saw an ad in the garage sale section of the newspaper classifieds that said, “Teacher retiring, many years’ worth of books and teaching supplies for sale.” I turned up in her driveway early the first day of the sale, and was it ever worth it! She had beautiful old textbooks, lots of children’s literature (mostly hardcover), and reproducible masters of worksheets from the 1960s that I couldn’t resist. I was like a kid in a candy store.

And how many times at other garage sales did I find unused workbooks, like-new boxes of flashcards and untouched educational games bought by well-meaning parents who planned to help their kids hone their skills over the summer or on weekends but never got around to it?

At garage sales, I’ve bought educational computer games, like-new art supplies and classic literature and movies (Moody science videos!) sold for pennies on the dollar. The beauty of all these purchases is that, once we were through with them, I resold them at my own garage sales.

These days, many support groups sponsor used curriculum sales, and I highly recommend them. But don’t forget to hit the garage sales, too. With money tight these days, finding something wonderful for a few bucks (or cents) can be very encouraging.

Summer and Homeschooling

Do you homeschool during the summer? Some years we do, others we don’t. It depends on what’s going on with our family each year.

I enjoy both schedules, but I have to admit that summer is a great time to not think about homeschooling. Letting the whole family enjoy downtime gives everyone a break from the homeschool routine and gives me some breathing space. Besides, after being cooped up a lot during a very long winter, we’re really enjoying the beautiful weather.

This summer we won’t be doing school other than a weekly review for my son, who has developmental disabilities; there are just too many other things going on in our lives. But one thing I’ve learned in the past is that no matter how much I don’t want to think about homeschooling by the time June rolls around, come August I’ll be drooling over homeschool catalogs, hanging out at the teacher store and plotting my purchases.

So if you need the summer off, go ahead and take it. Let yourself be refreshed. You’ll have plenty of time to think about homeschooling later this summer.