Summer Learning, Yay or Nay?
Avoid Summer Learning Loss
Summer is finally here, the weather is perfect and the kids are out of school…well, all except mine!
We are a homeschooling family but our kids are continuing their learning through the summer. It is important to bridge the learning gaps that summer can bring, but some of this decision is purely for selfish reasons… let me explain…
In previous years, we have done a more traditional summer break and found that getting back on schedule in the fall was a nightmare (and that doesn’t even cover it). Many of my kids’ friends stay up to 1-2am and sleep in until noon and my kids wanted to stay up late too, knowing their friends were able to, however, trying to get the schedule to shift in fall was incredibly hard. I also noticed that I spent a bit of the new academic year reviewing some material… and this was with me reading to the kids and enrolling them into summer reading programs.
In the fall, I reviewed my step-daughter’s work (she attends public school) and I realized that much of a her first marking period contained a heavy load of review work. I know many schools and teachers are trying their best to aid students by sending home worksheets to do over the summer break and often these can be turned in for treats and prizes, but because many children don’t do these assignments, the first several weeks are still heavy with review.
After looking into the need for review, I found this is called Summer Learning Loss. I wanted to stop the learning loss and review. I also wanted to get a better hold on the general schedule… and then, one day it dawned on me…I home school and I can do things differently!
A Different Approach
My husband and I decided that if we took a more “year round” approach, we would be getting ahead of the game by not needing to spend as much time reviewing with the kids after summer break. We also decided that a more consistent and realistic schedule would work for us, and that taking smaller breaks throughout the year, would be easier than 12 weeks at once.
Many might question this decision and I completely understand. How many of us have the best memories at the pool, park, riding our bikes, or running wild during summer break? I know I do…so even though we plan on doing summer learning, we have modified our schedule a bit.
In our home, we don’t have strict bedtimes, though we aim for everyone, including us parents, to be laying down by 11pm. My hubby and I are up by 6am but I don’t start waking the kids until 8 or 8:30am, with the hopes they are up and going by 9-9:30. They sometimes get up on their own earlier by setting an alarm or just naturally waking, and I view this as their time. They are allowed to ride their bike, play video games, or generally do whatever, but I won’t wake them up earlier than 8.
The kids have either a Spanish tutor or Sign Language tutor everyday at 11:30am. Each child gets 30 minutes with the tutor and while one is with the tutor, the other 2 are practicing piano and either doing typing or their Duolingo practice.
I will note here that when people hear that the kids have tutors, they raise their eyebrows… but I can say we aren’t rich! We’ve sacrificed a lot (for example we drove a slightly rusted, 9 year old van for 9 years) to hire and keep 2 private tutors for the kids, 6 days a week, but it was important to us that they learn those skills from someone that can actually help them.
The kids can work on their learning/chores in between 9ish and 11:30, when their tutor starts. At 1pm, the tutors are done and though the kids might have a couple small things to complete, they are usually done between 1-2pm, and have the rest of the afternoon to do what they like… for the most part… I don’t let them sit on video games all day, but they can play a bit, ride their bikes to the pool, head to the park… or whatever they decide to do. I always need to know what’s going on and our safety rules always need to be followed, but unless I have plans for all of us and if they have handled their responsibilities, they are free to have fun!
Even though we are learning in the summer, I don’t over do the workload. Beyond their 30 minute tutor lesson and piano practice, they have a minimal list. Each day I ask them to do a math page, 10-15 minutes of typing practice, and 10-15 minutes of Duolingo. The other subjects are done on a more weekly basis. Each week I ask them to do a lesson in science and history, both of which consists of 2-3 pages with 3-4 questions and there is a weekly coding lesson that is about 15 minutes. I also ask them to read a bit throughout the week and to do something creative, which can be crocheting, painting rocks, art in general, baking, learning about something that they are interested in… and so on.
The weekly items can be done whenever they want to do them, and this gives us flexibility. If the kids want to spend all of Friday at the pool, they can work ahead and do that or if they want to lounge on Monday, they can push the assignments to other days. Also, as summer gets hot, sometimes the kids decide to play outside in the mornings and do their work during the hottest parts of the day, which is fine with me and teaches them some responsibility.
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I’m Not That Strict Though
I like to have fun too and so there are days we will chuck it all out the window and go to amusement park, have a movie marathon, make crafts, or bake a cake. If they miss typing or don’t do a math page… it isn’t the end of the world. I still want to make memories with the kids!
There are times during the summer, and the school year too, where we take a week break… and that is ok. It’s a mental vacay and we pick right back up where we left off. Taking a week here and there is much easier than taking 12 weeks off, the kids don’t forget what they’ve learned, the sleep patterns don’t get off by too much, and I like the idea of having breaks available for when they are really needed.
The only thing I try not to skip are the tutors but because they are done online we can do them on the go, and the kids have grown to really like the young women that teach them. My kids don’t usually want to miss the opportunity to talk with them and tell them what’s new.
Bridging the learning gap of summer or stopping Summer Learning Loss, is fairly easy but should be planned a bit. You will need to decide what you want to continue through the summer or if you will want to add something new. You will need to be realistic in what can be done with any summer activities and you will need to make sure what is expected is actually outlined for your kids, both verbally and somewhere that they can review daily.
If you homeschool, you can plan your school year and include the summer. Though the summer is lighter learning, it is still time devoted to education and could lighten the academic year load. If you do not homeschool, there are many workbooks that can be helpful but I wouldn’t go overboard. I would consider getting a math workbook that is on your kiddo’s level, picking some books for summer reading, and incorporate subjects like science and history through experiments or recipes. This could be a great time to work on things kiddos are struggling with too.
So, Does This Work…
Mostly… my family isn’t perfect though… which is ok! I have to remind them to do their dishes or ask if they’ve finished their math from time to time. There are days the kids are more slow going than usual, but then again, there are days that I am too, but in general, it works.
We have noticed that our schedules don’t get off that much, which is AMAZING! We have also noticed that we don’t really need to spend time reviewing anything… which is great!
To help you on your journey of summer learning, grab this Summer Learning List to get you started. Also, check out my post on Free Summer Fun Activities for Kids!
How ever you incorporate learning into your summer, remember to be clear with your kiddos but also remember to be flexible, and have fun with it. Creating a love of learning is the key to success and summer is a great time for that!
Have some more thoughts on how to add summer learning to the schedule… comment below or head to Instagram or Facebook and share with us your successes (or fails)… tag me @bemandfam!
Have a fantastic summer!
BEM and Fam 🙂