Summer Camp at Home

Yay! It's finally summer! I have waited so long for it to be here. It was certainly one of the most challenging years of my homeschool journey with two toddlers wanting to draw on everything, taste everything, and interrupt almost every single lesson (wish I was kidding here). Whew! We survived and are fully embracing the break that summer brings.

Several people have asked me in the last couple of weeks what I do with my kids during the summer months. I'm definitely an advocate of summer learning to avoid the "summer slide" we often hear about. Did you know that students can lose approximately 30% of the knowledge they gained the previous school year through the lack of practice?

I don't know about you but this educator needs a break in the summer months from the regular routine to catch my breath. Not to mention my children need a break, too. So how do we accomplish summer learning yet make it fun and refreshing?

I am actually recording a television series that will be airing in the next couple of weeks on this topic. I will be sharing creative teaching tips to use during the summer months. Until those  segments are aired (and then I can post them here), I wanted to share my family's basic summer schedule with you all. It's like having summer camp at home!

First, we still do our chores and eat breakfast first thing in the morning but while my kids are eating, they watch an educational program, such as: Little House on the Prairie (they read the series this year), How It's Made, Magic Schoolbus, etc. {Click Here} for a list other programs we have watched for school time. Talk about disguising learning. They have no clue they are absorbing facts by the minute.

Next, we still cover the four basics each day. 

Writing- The boys write a paragraph in their journals. My kids' favorite is the journal jar.

Math-  We play fun games to keep those facts sharp, {Click Here} for a TON of ideas.

Reading- We all read (inc. mom) for 30 minutes during our D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time. While the older boys read, I read to the toddlers or they sit and look at the pictures in the books independently. I want to model the love of reading for all of my kids. I do believe that is one reason they all love to read. {Click Here} for more ideas on implementing your own D.E.A.R. time.

Bible- The boys memorize verses for Kid's Club. More on that below.
These four things only take about an hour and a half each day and it's time well spent. It will save me so much catch-up time as a teacher in the beginning of the school year.

Each day of the week my children have something to look forward to do when their work is done. (I do want to mention that my kids are night owls and like to work ahead at night.) 

Monday is Game Day. We play board games as a family. Watch the video below to see how much learning actually takes place while playing games.

Tuesday we have Art Club in our home where 10 kids take art lessons using a DVD/workbook program. This year we are using unit 1 & 2 from the Beginning Drawing with Thomas Kinkade. After art class, we eat lunch together, swim, and have yummy summer desserts. Ice Cream Sandwich Cake is usually the most requested dessert. These kids all grew up together and the moms are best friends so we ALL love art club. 

Wednesday is Science Day. I hire a sitter who happens to be our former neighbor and has known the kids since the day they were born. She is earning her PhD as a scientist so who better to lead science day! She does 4-5 experiments with them and sometimes she treats them to the dollar movies they offer at Regal Cinemas for the summer months.

Thursday is Kid's Club. Ten neighborhood kids come to our home for dinner, a Bible lesson, arts and crafts, outdoor games, and swimming. It reminds me of Vacation Bible School but instead of having it only one week a year, we have it all year long. Here is our Kid's Club in action. {Click Here} to learn more about the Bible program we use for scripture memory.

Friday is Fun Friday when I usually take the kids somewhere fun, such as: a waterpark, the movies, Chuck E. Cheese's (esp. to use our free tokens), a museum, a nature center, kids bowl freeor a beach trip. I like to surprise them each Friday so they are super excited to wake up and to find out where they are going.

This is the summer schedule that works best for our family. Learning continues, the kids never get bored, each day is different, there is always something to look forward to, the kids still have plenty of free time, and it's not expensive at all. (I think of all the money that many parents spend during the summer on camps and activities- yikes!)

Do we adhere to this schedule strictly? Nah.... it is summer after all. We take breaks for sleepovers (like tonight), visiting family and friends, vacations, or just cause we want to.☺ But it is nice to have some routine in the summer.
Enjoy your summer with your kids!