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May 21, 2010

Homeschooling Through the Summer

Written By: Renae Deckard
Category: The School Year
X Homeschooling Throughout the Summer

Homeschooling Throughout the Summer

Classroom teachers may be packing up their rooms for the summer, but for many homeschooling families summer is a season of vast opportunities.  Summer vacations, trips to historic sites and simple days spent exploring the outdoors all lend themselves to learning.  Today, Renae Deckard, homeschooling mom and teacher, offers parents and teachers some great ways to homeschool through the summer months.  Read her ideas and then share with us how you encourage learning during the lazy days of summer!

Homeschooling All the Time

Lesson plans wait as my little girls collect twigs and pull grass. A Birds’ Nature Park emerges underneath the green-tipped lilac branches. My twelve-year-old son gathers cast-off lumber and sketches plans for a chicken coop.

These first beautiful days of spring remind me of one of the reasons I homeschool: the inherent flexibility.

During my son’s first year of phonics lessons, our schedule matched public school. I hadn’t considered any other possibility. Then the blistering East Texas summer came. I quickly realized our free time would be more enjoyable if it was bearable outside. The next year school started in July. Our breaks corresponded with the glorious fall and colorful spring.

Now we live in the rugged North with it’s mild (in comparison) summer. We will still continue lessons throughout the warm days, but I have a few ideas for embracing the season.


Keep chickens

Raising chickens has never been part of my plan, but my son pounced on the idea. Why should I deter his excitement? He is old enough to care for them and his sisters are salivating over the thought of fresh eggs for breakfast. The chicken coop is under construction.

Create art

Our porch is shielded from the sun. It is a perfect place for splashing paint and molding clay. We can get messy without worrying about clean-up. I’ll hang a simple clothes line to hold the drying masterpieces.

Gaze at the stars

I remember sleeping on a cold trampoline watching the moon glide across the twinkling sky until my eyelids fell. The wonder of our universe is a gift simple to pass onto my little ones.

Explore the wilderness

The parks and mountains beg us to explore. As we hike, I will point out the wildflowers and rocks, birds and insects. My children will continue observing and shout excitedly when they discover something new.

Enjoy ONE book

I want to savor and examine one book, instead of the many. I want to read slowly while words mingle with the breeze and hungry eyes stare at the sky imaging the sea or the timeline of the ages. Going deep with one story will enhance all others.

Plant a garden

Experiencing the promise of life-giving food will teach more than a textbook. I doubt our garden will be huge this year, but a simple bunch of herbs and a few tomatoes will be enough to ignite interest in seeds, plants, soil, and weather.

The rhythm of the seasons is part of learning, of education. I listen to its beat in the warm breeze, nodding my head to the possibilities. My children hear it, too. They are tugged outside again.


Do you homeschool through the summer? If so, do you change your schedule?


About the Author

Renae Deckard teaches her twelve-year-old son and two little girls at home. She has prepared lesson plans, enjoyed children’s literature, and delighted in discovery for over seven years.


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  • Juanita
    August 27, 2010

    As a child, I looked forward to the 3 months of summer vacation as a break from tedium; studying, reading, memorizing information for tests and so on. As a parent, I dreaded summer vacation; for reasons of two parents working to make ends meet, childcare outside of home, boredom from children who are used to hanging with their peers, now dealing with their siblings every day-all day! As a grandma, I now see & feel the signicance of schooling year around with weekly breaks for family recreation, vacations,
    & holiday preparations! I’ve always felt education comes before frivolty, silliness, or other time wasters. Teaching is as essential as living; with huge benefits.

  • Charity S.
    May 28, 2010

    These are all wonderful ideas. Yes, my son continues to learn all during the summer. Thanks

  • Amy @ Raising Arrows
    May 27, 2010

    We homeschool straight through with very little change to our schedule due to the fact that we take frequent breaks throughout the year w/ a baby and morning sickness thrown in there every so often. No guilt!
    Great post!

  • Laurie
    May 25, 2010

    It seems like learning becomes a way of life when you homeschool. We use every opportunity to spark creativity and interest in the everyday things of life. Our calendar is the same as public school because my husband teaches high school. We like to be off with daddy in the summer. It just works for us, but learning never stops. It seems like in the summer, we are more relaxed and don’t feel as obligated to our curriculum, so we do things we don’t have time to do during our regular school year! Happy Summer!

  • Jenn4him
    May 25, 2010

    We do a lot of informal learning through the summer. We go to a lot of parks, participate in the library’s reading program and try to keep our math skills sharp. The best thing about summer is that I do not keep track. It’s all bonus!

  • hsmominmo
    May 25, 2010

    Our summer ‘curriculum’ and school ‘schedule’ also include caring for our chickens, plus adding several turkeys. We will also be using a yard sale as a means of learning math concepts, economics, entrepreneurship (lemonade stand and bake sale). During hot afternoons we’ll be catching up on scrapbooking and other crafty projects.
    There will also be star-gazing and bug collecting – weeding the garden and long walks while picking wild flowers.
    Ahhh, the stuff of life! looking forward to enjoying this season God is bringing to us once again.

  • H Cinotto
    May 25, 2010

    My favorite school supplies are very basic, but make me giddy 🙂 post it notes, the “real” no.2 real wood/real lead pencils, and dry erase markers!

  • Nikki
    May 25, 2010

    Very nice article!
    We do continue our learning during the summer months and focus more on getting out and enjoying nature with our extra free time.

  • Cindy
    May 24, 2010

    “School” officially ends in the summer, but learning never ends! I LOVE the laid back, child-directed, hobby-directed, spur-of-the-moment learning time that summer affords.

  • Jennifer
    May 24, 2010

    Wonderful thoughts and very well written! I love the thought of learning through nature and plan to do several nature walks with my girls soon 🙂

  • Tristan
    May 24, 2010

    We do homeschool through the summer, which gives us time for flexible breaks. This school year we’ll be taking November/December off as Mommy has baby blessing #6!

  • shawna
    May 24, 2010

    Summer is our unschooling time… and I love it! No pressure, no schedules. We do what sounds or feels right; sometimes we do nothing at all. But for the most part we learn without even realizing we are learning 🙂

  • September
    May 24, 2010

    Great summertime ideas! I second the notion of savoring one good book. I’m writing lesson plans for Amos Fortune, Free Man, and can’t wait to share this wonderful, thought-provoking book with my children.

  • Debra G
    May 24, 2010

    We take off just a month in the summer. I need to have at least a month off to just be mom and prepare for the following year. We just do our regular schooling through the end of June and then pick back up at the beginning of August. I live in Arizona and it’s really too hot to do a lot of your wonderful suggestions. We do take off December though and other times throughout the year when it’s nice out.

  • Lark
    May 24, 2010

    We are schooling year round for the first time this year. I am looking forward to it and to the breaks it gives us throughout the year. And FYI, I can’t wait for fall and all the school and office supply stuff to be on sale! I love it all. Would love to be entered to win the giveaway.

  • Melody
    May 22, 2010

    I can relate to the hot Texas summer. I like the idea of teaching during the summer. Maybe not having as rigid of a schedule but doing things to prepare for the next grade level. Reading a book slowly and discussing what’s happening in the story really helps children connect with the story and comprehend the theme. I like that. Reading slowly can really spark a desire for learning independently. Reading short stories that relate to a topic that will be taught later is great, and going to a place that you will study about is even better. Love all your suggestions!

  • Beth
    May 22, 2010

    You know, until you put it that way, I’d never really considered the fact that one of the main reasons homeschooling works really well for us is that we’re in Florida. Summers are miserable and best spent in air conditioning. We take good long breaks during the winter months when it’s mild and pleasant enough to do what we like to do outside without being eaten alive by bugs or other stuff.

    thanks for that.

  • Sara
    May 22, 2010

    Our family functions way better when we maintain structure, so we use the summer to catch up on the non-core subjects that went by the wayside during the regular school year. Summer is the perfect time for science, geography, swimming lessons, history, art, music, and lots of reading! So we’ll be making our scientific experimentation messes in the sunshiny outside, star gazing on balmy nights, painting under inspiration of the summer breezes, escaping to the local museums, library, and pools during the hot days, gathering produce from our garden, and learning how to use our compasses and maps to find mama-planted treasures in field next door.

  • Phyllis
    May 22, 2010

    I love this. You write so well and the ideas are so good. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  • Mama__B
    May 21, 2010

    Funny that you mention keeping chickens. There is a “grassroots” movement here in our city to allow urban chickens. Only 4 or 5 communities in all of Canada currently allow them.

  • Barbara DeLarwelle
    May 21, 2010

    Love the ideas! Will certainly be using the porch idea. Never thought of a clothesline for drying artwork. We use summer as “project” time. Caterpillars growing, a few years watched tadpoles, this year attempting praying mabtis and trying our hand with an incubator. Sometimes the simplist things, such as our caterpillars to butterflies, spark the most enthusiasm.

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