Seven Reasons to Keep Learning This SummerJune 19, 2023
When I started writing this, I was thinking about the reasons to keep “studying” during the summer. But after a while, I didn’t like the word “study.” It made me visualize a child sitting down at a desk or on the couch doing busy work. I thought about my kids, bored and frustrated with the usual work we did during the school year.
So, I decided that “learning” made more sense for the summer. Here’s why: We, homeschoolers, have the flexibility and time, especially during the summer, to allow our children to chase their dreams, develop new skills, or concentrate on the things that they love. For example, my son loves fishing. When he’s not fishing, he’s reading about it, watching videos, and making his own lures.
So this summer, I’m incorporating it into his schoolwork. He will write summaries of the fishing articles he reads. I’ll also have him write out the steps for making a lure, tying his favorite knots, and throwing a cast net. He’ll teach me about tide charts, weather patterns, and why fishing is better at first light and during the night.
You can do the same with your children– branch out, explore, and encourage learning. Because “learning” during the summer is incredibly important and healthy, not only for your children but for you, too.
Exercise the Mind
I don’t know about you, but when I first started homeschooling, I let my kid basically veg out during the summer. Yes, he played outside, went to the local pool, fished, and hung out with his friends, but he never did any additional learning. When we started school again in the fall, his mind was out of shape. He wasn’t comprehending his studies as he had during parts of the previous year. I was also out of teacher shape! I wasn’t as sharp and became easily fatigued (mind, body, and spirit) when things went sideways. Now, we both exercise our minds during the summer months and are grateful when the school year begins.
Avoid the “Summer Slide”
Research indicates that two months of reading skills and 2 1/2 months of math skills are lost over a single summer — this is known by many as the summer slide. The consequences are serious and the summer learning loss statistics are real. The summer learning loss “slide” not only causes stress when the new year begins but also wastes time and shakes your children’s confidence.
I remember when my son became so frustrated he broke his pencil in half when he couldn’t finish math problems that he easily figured out at the end of the previous year. That doesn’t happen anymore. He sharpens his math skills at least twice a week using an online program I found, Time4Learning. Now, when the new year begins, we’re both prepared.
Develop New Skills
During the regular school year, you may not have time for developing new skills. That’s understandable, I know. Between core studies, extracurricular activities, chores, and more, there are only 24 hours in a day. But the summer break invites new adventures. Ask your child what they would like to learn about — maybe they already have a hobby? If so, delve deeper into the intricacies of the hobby. It can be anything, from fishing to knitting to animal care. Break it down and have them learn it from the ground up.
A friend of mine has a son who loves baseball. So this summer, she has him figuring out batting averages, the percent a player gets on base, strikeout percentages, and more. This kid knows more about the Boston Red Sox players than most adult fans. It’s amazing. My friend said her son is not particularly fond of math, but when it comes to figuring out the stats for each player, he loves it. Go figure!
Once the summer begins, let your children chart their own course. You do enough teaching during the regular school year. This will encourage free thinking and give them more confidence, especially when you support them along the way. It also gives them a sense of empowerment and responsibility. After all, they are basically in charge, and that makes them accountable. This scenario will help you, too. Not only will you give yourself a break, but you might also learn new things about your children, such as their different interests that you never knew about. Try some of these 101 Things to Do During the Summer to spark some creative ideas!
Give Learning Value
In her book Summertime Survival Guide, Rebecca Kochenderfer says: “In creating artificial divisions between school time and vacation time, we send our kids the message that learning is something unpleasant we get to escape from in the summer. When families make it a point to pursue learning opportunities enthusiastically throughout the year, we are telling our kids that we value learning.”
Yes! As homeschoolers, we do value learning or we wouldn’t have taken our kids out of school and placed them, and their educational future, almost solely in our hands. Summer offers us a chance to explore. Even a day at the beach can turn into a science lab when you collect shells, name the different birds in the area, and bring home flora samples you gathered. Learning opportunities are all around us!
Learning Lasts a Lifetime
Just because you’re finishing up the regular school year doesn’t mean learning ends. The world changes rapidly, especially the technology we use every day, so we must adapt and change with the world. For example, if your child likes computers, have them investigate artificial intelligence, computer programming, computer languages, and databases. You could even have your child create their own computer game. A quick Google search will get you on your way. That’s just one example. It all depends on what interests your child. Once you instill the importance of learning, they will continue it for a lifetime.
Prepare for the Future
Most young children don’t know what future employment opportunities will come their way. But even if that’s the case, it’s never too early to prepare. Learning inspires young people to open their minds, explore new pathways, and know it or not, prepare for their future. I have no idea if my son will become a professional tournament fisherman. Maybe he’ll open a bait shop or create a new line of lures, or become a marine biologist. Maybe fishing will only be a hobby. What I do know is there are many things that go into catching fish. It is literally a science. I never knew that until he started talking to me about it. It’s fascinating and I encourage him to investigate every avenue. The more he learns the better off he’ll be in the future.
Learning should never end. You can slow the pace down a bit during these couple of months, but don’t stop completely. The mind needs exercise and inspiration and this Summer Learning Challenge podcast is perfect for reading ideas! In fact, by reading about new things you and your family will be much happier and prepared for the next school year.