Summer Term 2011

Last week, Lisa over at HomeSchool Days asked me about our summer learning session. We're on the cusp of wrapping up our spring term and will then break for a couple of weeks, but, given Lisa's question, this seems as good a time as any to share our summer plans.

We "do school" year-round and purposely avoid imitating the institutional schools whenever we can. What's more, I fully believe that all of life is learning...which means that plenty of education takes place even when we're not engaged in formal academics.

Nevertheless, it's convenient to divide our year into "learning terms" - and seasonal delineations seem sensible. In addition, because of both the babysitting I provide for the children of classroom teachers and the nature of our climate here (i.e., summers are too short and must be enjoyed while they're here!), our summer term looks rather different than the rest of the year.

Primarily, it amounts to time differences. For example, on a typical full day at home during the rest of the year, the girls average a little more than four hours on standard academics. But, in contrast, I've always insured that bookwork during the summer doesn't exceed two hours a day - and is sometimes much less. In fact, this summer I've decided that work time on Fridays will not last more than one hour. And, whereas formal learning time during the rest of year typically starts between 9:00 and 9:30 and goes until about 2:00 (with a few breaks and lunch over content-based read-alouds as part of the mix), it has worked better in summer to let the girls play early in the day and then hit the books right after lunch - during the hottest part of the day, when they'd likely come inside anyway.

This year will be our third with an official summer term, and we'll continue what's worked well. Namely, the girls will daily spend time on:
  • math;
  • spelling;
  • reading;
  • piano;
  • "enrichment" activities.
In our first summer, when the girls had just turned seven and eight, cursive writing was the enrichment activity - a much-anticipated treat because they looked to it as "princess writing." Last year, the extras were a continuation of the Rosetta Stone Spanish (on the computer) we'd begun the previous January and learning to type (using game-like software called Typer Island).

This year, our extras will consist of continuing with:
  • Spanish (two days a week);
  • typing (two days a week);
  • I Can Do All Things, an art curriculum they've enjoyed in the past and have specifically asked to finish (five days a week).
I've usually taken a complete break from other major content areas (i.e., history and science), but this summer we'll work through A Child's Geography, Volume 1, by Ann Voskamp, as a continuation of our just-completed study of world geography with My Father's World Exploring Countries & Cultures (ECC). With ECC, our emphasis was on cultural geography, but Voskamp focuses on physical geography so this will be a nice way to complement what we've studied for the past nine months. It's also a great summer study because each day's lessons can be accomplished in a short amount of time and there are many fun, hands-on activities to enjoy.

In addition, as they've done for the past two summers, the girls will have twice-weekly swimming practice. Of course, they've actually "graduated" from lessons, so this year they'll be in the YMCA Silver Sharks program, a precursor to the swim team. In point of fact, though, it will simply be akin to what they've enjoyed previously: time in the pool, honing their skills.

Of course, other than an hour or two of formal academics on most weekdays and one hour twice a week for swimming, summer for us will be...very typically summer-like! To me, that means relaxation, lots of open-ended fun, regular outings, and visits with family and friends we might not often see during the rest of the year. I can schedule in the academic stuff, but I don't have a clue yet about the rest of it. We'll just take the balance of each day as it comes...as it should be, in summer and always.

Spring term ends on May 25.

Thus, our general calendar for the next
couple of months looks something like this:

May 26 - June 9


June 10 - July 30
Summer Term
(to include the above-mentioned academics as noted)

However, during the term, we anticipate some special occasions
for which we'll either limit or completely curtail bookwork:

June 15 - 19: Visit from a Family FriendJuly 2 - 4: Independence Day BreakJuly 10 - 16: Family VacationJuly 18 - 22: Vacation Bible Camp at Spring Lake Church


July 31 - August 7

August 8
Fall Term Begins


Kimberly said...

I love your schedule and that you are so organized. I have tried some light formal schooling in the summer but couldn't (or didn't) make it stick. Like your area summer is too short so our main focus will be to enjoy the time we can spend outdoors. As you said and I believe as well that learning does not only take place in the classroom. After being on vacation for a few weeks we still have several weeks of CTG left. It will be back to school on Monday.

Harter said...

I love your summer plans! While I have our summer school work planned out, I don't know all of our vacation dates, and family visit times. It will be interesting to see how those effect my well planned out summer session!

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