Desire-Led Summer Learning for Teens and Tweens

June 28, 2020
Written by:
Guest Author

We homeschool with state requirements of 180 days of instruction for the school year. So, every May or June when we get to the 180th day, we celebrate with loud renditions of “School’s out for summer!” playing all day long in every room of the house.  Dreaming of warm summer days filled with nothing but swimming, riding bikes, and playing with friends, we swear off school. “School’s out forever” we sing, and August and September are a million years away at that moment. We’re happy to have our freedom back, happy to be free agents with endless possibilities forever.

Summer Learning Loss Fix

And then, exactly three days later, it happens. The kids start moping around with bored looks on their faces and eventually ask, “Mama, can we watch TV?” or “When can we play video games today?” And while I know that a little bit of boredom is good for kids, I can’t handle being asked this question every day.


So, a few years back, we started “Stay Sharp This Summer” as a way to bust boredom, keep learning happening during the summer, and stop the incessant video game questions, and it’s worked wonders.


Here’s how it works: Every day during the summer, the kids have to check off 7 to-do’s before they can have their screen time. The list changes from year to year and it’s always based on what they’re into academically and desire-wise at the moment, but it keeps them from melting into couch potatoes and it keeps me sane, so I’d say it’s working. Last year our focus was a bit different, but this year here’s what it looks like in my family.


#1 – Read silently (Keep a good book handy and read when the mood strikes.)


#2 – Read aloud (Audible at breakfast, Harry Potter at bedtime, devotions, etc.)


#3 – Write in your book journal (Quotes, book logs, illustrations you love)


#4 – Pick 3 math problems


#5 – Do something creative (art, writing, research, build/make something, etc.)


#6 – Get outside (hike, kayak, bike, hang in your hammock, swim, play, etc.)


#7 – Chores (indoor and outdoor)


It’s nothing fancy, but it keeps my teen and tween learning in the summer, and it helps us have some structure while we’re having fun. But the biggest bonus is that keeping even this little bit of learning going in the summer prevents summer slide, making a return to our regular school schedule in August or September so much easier.  I hope it does the same for you.

Other Articles by Celeste Orr

Homeschool Art Projects for Teens and Tweens

What Does Quarantine Mean for Travel-Schooling Families?

Travel Schooling Part 2: How to Afford It!

What is Travel Schooling & How Do We Start? Part 1


More about the author… Celeste Orr

Celeste Orr Contributor

Celeste Orr is a writer, reader, nonprofit guru, sociology nerd, hiker, sailor, full-time traveling Georgia-born mama to two boys. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and loves all things family travel and adventure related. She is also passionate about helping families choose togetherness and outdoor adventure, even if it means bucking the system and going their own way sometimes. She shares tips and articles to help families in the areas of travel, relationships, and choosing their own path at