Summertime, Summertime

No, I haven't misplaced my calendar. I'm just thinking ahead (per usual), and have summertime & vacations on my mind.

From time to time, I see discussion about how year-round homeschooling works for various families. There are usually various reasons cited for the decision, but at the risk of gross overgeneralization, it's usually a comment about how they want their children to realize that learning happens all the time, and that they have a learning lifestyle. Life doesn't stop for three months in the summer, so why should school?

On one hand, I see their point. Learning should, ideally, continue all the time. There's no good reason to stop learning for eight to twelve weeks straight each year. However, there's also no reason that learning has to equal school.

I do understand the mindset and perhaps the appeal. Certain subjects almost have to continue throughout the summer - foreign language vocabulary, for instance, and memory work. Doing some regular math throughout the summer to review concepts and skills is not going to be time-onerous - a good review could easily be accomplished in less than thirty minutes, two to four times weekly. Reading throughout the summer is always a good thing.

There's a big difference between what I just wrote, though, and school as it happens during our official school year. A page of math that's review is a far cry from tackling a new lesson of algebra. Reviewing vocabulary isn't the same as learning additional words. I could make similar comparisons with everything mentioned above.

There's also the fact that, in my opnion, a kid doing school year-round is going to miss out on some great "learning" opportunities. Yes, I think that a week of summer camp teaches a child something. In most areas, there are day camps that focus on traditional outdoor activities, as well as camps that focus on nature, science, history, animals, music, theatre, dance, and more. I think there is a value in experiences outside the norm. Yes, learning happens all the time - but it also happens in many places.

I do understand that not all children have these opportunities. For them, a regular school schedule or perhaps a slightly lighter school schedule is going to be a good choice. I am a firm believer that children like structure and routine, especially past age three or four. If it's a choice between staring the television for hours on end versus schoolwork, you bet I'm going to choose the schoolwork for my kids.

What are our summer plans, you may ask? FB will continue everything he's currently doing, since it takes a total of forty-five minutes or so daily: phonics, handwriting, and math. He's at a point in his skills that an extended time off is not really appropriate. We're also going to read a lot about evolution and dinosaurs over the course of late spring and summer. He'll also go to a couple of weeks of half-day camp at the local Y, and we'll see if anything else opportunity-wise crops up.

EG will do the aforementioned regular review of Latin vocabulary and memory work. She'll have some form of math work to do throughout the summer, though I haven't yet decided what form that will take. She'll probably also have three to four sentences in Practice Town to complete weekly, but that's not yet been determined. She reads voraciously on her own, but I have three or four books that may be explicitly required, to both review the previous year's history and preview the next's. She'll be a busy bee this summer - one week of Girl Scout resident camp, one week of Girl Scout day camp, a week of science camp at the local university, a week of music & dancing camp with a local high school's show choir, and she's asked to do a week of tennis camp as well. I offered her more downtime but she sort of scoffed at me. Apparently it's good to be busy in the summer.

What do you do for summer work? Do you school year-round? Do you do a lightened or reduced schedule, or just review? Do you drop all formal schoolwork altogether? Inquiring minds (or at least mine!) want to know!


Smrt Mama said...

Our summer plan for Cpt. Science looks like this right now:

Whatever camps we end up doing
An art class
Continue Latin (if we ever get started)
A more "fun" math program to keep concepts fresh
1-2 unit studies

Daisy said...

Our summer usually looks like this...

Daily math page.
Daily writing (usually a parent/child journal we start for the summer months).
Daily reading (usually sign up for every reading program in town).

Read-alouds, science kits, library books are all child-led during the summer months.

Hubby is off about 4 weeks in the summer so we always have our day trips and vacations during that time also.

I don't think I could school year round. I NEED the deadline of finishing curriculum. I need the fresh start in the fall. Without those deadlines I think I would flake far too often.

Melanie said...

When my kids were younger, we had the sort of light summer schedule you are suggesting, but now we school year round. We don't have a set schedule and there isn't any big philosophy behind our decision - it just takes us a full year to get through our books because we so often have better things to do than school. We take day and extended trips all through the year because my husband has an odd work schedule. The kids' interests (dance, drama, music) are year round activities, so we are perpetually busy with tech weeks and festivals and workshops and such. And nobody is going to turn down a day of hiking or a trip to see the new traveling exhibit at the art museum just to stay home and do math! When I sit down to add it all up, I find that we actually take more time off than we would if we followed the traditional school schedule. That might be good or it might be bad, but it's a subject for another post. :)

Anonymous said...

This will be my first summer, but i'm so disorganized, the only thing that keeps me from panicking is that i can do more school over the summer! I plan to have half-days, and spend plenty of time at the pool. My kids dont like many camps, but they will probably do some drama camp, at least. If vacations seem to present themselves, of course, we will go. But yes, if i dont keep my boys scheduled, they will play video games all day long and then beg me to buy new video games becuase they've gotten bored with the ones they have . . . .MUST continue some semblence of school (i'm also not classical, our schedule IS pretty light)

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