Our Summer Rhythm

Our Summer Rhythm

“Oh, what do you do in the summertime when all the world is green?

Do you fish in a stream, or lazily dream on the banks as the clouds go by? Is that what you do? So do I!”

‚ÄčThis song ‚Äčhas been stuck in my head all summer as my family has played in creeks and the ocean, roasted smores over a fire, tended the garden, caught fireflies, and binged read book series.

There is something so rejuvenating and nostalgic about summers, and I feel that it’s an essential season of life, especially for children.

Yet around May stores of all kinds begin stocking their summer workbooks. These books promise to prevent the “summer slide” through fill-in-the-blanks worksheets, multiple choice quizzes, and mini lectures. But do children really need the workbooks?

In my opinion, no.

Children need a breath of fresh air. A change in atmosphere. We need to trust that the natural home atmosphere is education enough for a few months.

When you put away screens and live a rich life–full of outdoor adventures, making food from scratch, and reading good books– learning will inevitably happen.

The best kind of learning.

But I don’t think letting all structure and routine go is healthy, either. Summer’s rhythm make look different, but it is a rhythm nonetheless.

If you need some ideas, here is my family’s summer rhythm:

Breakfast, scripture study, and chores before heading out in nature. We like to go to a local park with a creek to play in and find creatures. A couple days a week we go with friends on an adventure to a state park during the morning.

Naptime for my youngest and quiet reading time for my older kids. Also a time to play board games or work on projects indoors when its hot.

Dinner, gardening, and read aloud books.

And in case you need proof, here’s all the learning that’s happening with that simple rhythm:

  • board games (lots of math and logic)
  • cooking (science and more math)
  • gardening (science)
  • hiking (physical and mental health)
  • visiting national parks (history, geography, nature)
  • unstructured play with friends
  • summer reading program (details below)
  • camps with friends (details below)

Summer Reading Program

It’s taken me years to figure out a good reading program for my kids. Every year the library offers a reward program that I’m less than thrilled to participate in (candy for reading Captain Underpants? No thanks)

This year is the first year I’ve offered a family reading program. Here’s how it works:

  1. They can read any books they want, but if they want points they must read and narrate a book from “the list.”
  2. The books must be physical books, not audiobooks.
  3. “The list” includes handpicked classics (by me) that teaches character and has rich writing and vocabulary.
  4. Each book is worth different points based on reading level and length. For example, Call it Courage is worth 2 points while The Three Musketeers is worth 7.
  5. Boys get points after reading the book and narrating it to me. Points are wood tokens that they collect in Mason jars. They can purchase things like a juice popsicle (2 pts), a new book (10 pts), or a lunch date with mom or dad (10 pts).

So far the reading program is going well! The boys still read or listen to their favorite book series, but they’ve read a lot more classics than they normally would.

Homeschool Summer Camps

When you’re trying to provide a feast of subjects to multiple ages there are a few subjects that inevitably fall to the wayside. Handicrafts, brush drawing, and scouting are mine.

I decided this summer I would devote one week to each of these subjects and call it “summer camp.” I recruited some fellow homeschool moms and we each picked a subject and week to host “homeschool summer camp.”

Here are some subjects we’re doing this year (or next):

  • scouting and outdoor survival
  • handicrafts (crochet, embroidery, knitting, weaving, etc)
  • paper crafts (origami, sloyd, pop-ups)
  • art (watercolor, brush drawing, pencil sketching, pastel)
  • photography
  • cooking
  • technology (coding, robotics, 3D printing)

We plan on the kids staying for 3 hours each day, Monday – Thursday. That time will be spent on a lesson and projects, broken up by playtime.

I’ll write a follow-up email letting you all know how it goes!

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