We are finishing up our last few days of school this week and it feels so, so good! We are all looking forward to lazy summer days, and yes, we take a complete break! The learning, however, does not stop once we close our books. Kids are always learning! During summer it just shifts and looks different. What Are Homeschoolers Learning in Summer Break? (Life Skills!)
Learning is a lifestyle. Sometimes it includes books. Other times, it looks a whole lot like real life! In our home, it meshes so much with life, it can sometimes be hard to tell the two apart!
You may also enjoy these posts about life skills.
50 Life Skills That Should Be Taught At Home
Important Life Skills for Kids to Learn in Summer
Video: What Are Homeschoolers Learning in Summer Break? (Life Skills!)
Changes in our rhythms often spur creative thinking. Even the changing of seasons is exciting to us as we live and learn a little differently in each of them. After all, variety is the spice of life! As we move through the homeschool year, we can focus on different things at different times.
In fall we finish up preserving our harvest and spend time on the soccer field watching our kids compete. In winter, we stoke the fire in the wood stove and cozy up on the sofa with our books in hand to do a lot of reading, writing, and bookwork during the season of rest. In spring, we are drawn outdoors again to watch in awe as the birds come back and new life springs up everywhere around us. Just as each season has its own unique attributes, summer break is brimming with learning opportunities.
Life Skills for Summer Break
While it is true that as homeschoolers our kids have lots of time during the school year to pursue their interests, summer break provides even more time to do this unhindered by their academic studies. Here are some of the life skills our kids learn in their summer break.
Our second son is building a tree house. For him, this has meant getting advice from my husband, watching YouTube videos, and searching for plans online. He is really excited about building this treehouse this summer. He has even enlisted siblings to help him with the small jobs involved! I love seeing them all out there, running into problems, making mistakes, and trying to find solutions. The platform looks bigger than they imagined, but maybe it will still work if they want to have a front porch? Details like these challenge their thinking!
Although the kids help me cook throughout the year, we have more free time in summer to try new recipes. So much chemistry is involved in cooking. Through cooking, our kids have learned about density, mixtures, and measuring… to name a few. We have learned how to can fruits and vegetables, ferment with sourdough and water kefir, dehydrate foods, and water glass eggs.
Shopping and other trips
Of course we don’t call them field trips, but nicer weather makes it easier (than during colder months) to go out and explore local events and attractions. We like to find out what parades, festivals, and markets are scheduled so we can see some of these places. Vacations are incentives to also take a day to see nearby museums, parks, or historical sites.
Now that we have some teenage girls in the house, we spend more time shopping. (It’s so fun to do this with my girls!) Sometimes they shop for clothes or personal items, but often they will also shop for materials for hobbies they want to try like a sewing or craft project.
During summer, we spend some time fine tuning our chores and cleaning out cabinets, drawers, and bedrooms. I also am a little more particular about checking the small details of their chores, things that often get neglected in the busyness of our year, for example, wiping baseboards, dusting, and vacuuming the corners along the ceilings for cobwebs, etc.
This summer, my recipe cards need to be organized, so I will buy a new photo album and the kids will help me organize the recipe cards in a new book. We also work on updating photos in frames around the house and in albums, which also gives us a chance to delete pictures on my phone…a never ending job!
While not necessarily a life skill, learning to identify local birds, plants, trees, and mammals is fun! No we don’t have formal lessons on this, but it just comes up a lot when we walk outside and see new flora popping up every other day! Spending a lot of time outside helps kids to be more aware of the habits of animals around them and when certain flowers are in season in their environment.
Kids relish the chance to make money! Over the years our kids have hosted lemonade stands, neighborhood bake sales, and yard sales. Some have sold items on Ebay. Others have made money walking neighborhood dogs or doing landscaping for neighbors.
While reading is usually categorized as an academic skill, it is also a life skill! Our kids are still reading a lot in the summer, even if it is not a part of their “school” work. Most often they are reading fictional chapter books for fun, but many other areas of natural life involve reading. Reading is required for following a recipe, understanding the instructions to a new board game, learning how to assemble various construction projects, and more!
Reading aloud is also part of our family lifestyle. We read a passage of Scripture at breakfast and dinner. Often when our littles are down for naps, I love to read fun chapter books poolside or on the front porch. On rainy days, we might listen to an audio book curled up on the sofa together. As part of our bedtime routine, we sing a hymn, the kids following the words from a hymnbook.
If you want to find ways to keep kids busy and curious, surround them with living things like plants and animals. Adding some homesteading skills to our life has done this for us. Living things need regular care. It is also interesting to see them change and grow from day to day.
Every year we have a garden. Our kids help plant, water, weed, and harvest. A garden gives them something to go out and see every day. They love to watch for the first cucumber and the first red tomato. When an unusual bug is invading the zucchini squash, it becomes a problem to solve. Through gardening our kids have learned many things about science. Here are a few of them.
- Identify cultivated plants.
- How far apart to plant different seeds.
- Which plants can be started from seed and which need to be started indoors ahead of time.
- Perennial and annual plants.
- Preservation of food: canning, blanching and freezing, dehydrating.
Over time we have added animals to our property. This also gives kids something every day to go out and observe. Animals can be very entertaining! We have laying hens year round, but in summer we raise broiler hens and pigs. These animals are butchered in fall and provide meat for our family year round.
Since the kids are involved in all of the care of our animals, they are able to see how their work with them is a valuable contribution to the whole family. Forgetting to fill the pig’s water barrel on a hot summer day can be a devastating loss! Having kids care for animals encourages compassion and helps them see that even as kids, a living being is depending on them for sustenance. Their work matters!
Entertainment and Games
Often our kids will play board or card games on the front porch. I love watching the siblings interact together. Without realizing it’s happening, the kids are learning so many math and strategy skills through these games. Sometimes, I think our seven year old learned more about adding and subtracting from playing Five Crowns and Dutch Blitz than she has from her daily math lessons! I love some of the ideas in this post about Game School.
Physical Fitness and Sports
This summer, our fifteen year old son has pulled out our old P90X workout DVD’s and has started working through them. He has been talking about how many weeks he is into the program and ways that he wants to eat healthier to build muscle.
Another thing all the kids will be doing this summer is swimming. We are blessed to have a pool. The kids spend almost every day in it. We have a 5 and 6 year old who hopefully will learn to swim this summer. Knowing how to swim is an important life skill!
Our older boys will sometimes drive to a park for pick up basketball games and the whole family enjoys playing soccer in the yard.
How to Promote an Atmosphere of Learning
Of course none of us wants to see our kids wasting precious time laying around or playing video games all summer. So, how can we create an atmosphere that promotes curiosity and learning? Here are a few ways we make it work in our home.
- Have a plan for screens. Create limits and enforce them consistently. This eliminates kids from constantly asking for screen time. Discuss the different the difference between using screens for entertainment versus for productivity. We want to enjoy entertainment type screens in moderation, but we liberally encourage them to use screens for productive means.
- Provide them with raw materials and surround them with living things. Collect scrap fabric, wood blocks, legos, dress up costumes, art supplies, clay and sand, etc. Bring house plant into your home or try a garden.
- Model it yourself! If you want your kids to be lifelong learners, be a curious person yourself! Find a hobby that you enjoy. You are not neglecting your kids by stepping away to work on personal projects for pleasure. Rather, you are modeling what it looks like to be someone who loves to learn. Your pursuits may inspire them to try new endeavors on their own!
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What will your homeschoolers be learning this summer? Leave a comment and share the ideas and inspiration with others!
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!
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