Summer School 2023

We don’t plan on starting our school year until September, but in this part of the South, it seems like everybody is going “back to school” at the beginning of August, so I thought I’d write a bit about our summer so far and try to persuade you that summer school is awesome, in case you didn’t already know.

This past May, when people were graduating, ditching textbooks, putting their instruments away after recitals, Charlie and I kept on keeping on. I signed her up for summer ballet classes, she kept up with violin lessons and we continued with a simplified version of school. The only thing that has been different has been the addition of a few dance camps and some random mornings that started with a trip to the pool. Other than that, we have kept to our routine. It’s not a difficult routine – a few hours of school before play – but it gives our days structure and we both know what to expect.

I started the summer with a few goals in mind and a pared-down version of a regular school day so that it would be shorter and we would have more time to play and relax. And play we have. Let’s just say, even with school, it has been a summer filled with lots of activities, camps, television and way too much MarioKart.

Summer School

  • Memory Verses
    • A few times a week, we’ll review the verses that Charlie has memorised. It’s not everyday, but I try not to go too many days without asking her to recite. I’m not actively giving her more to learn, but just trying to keep the ones she knows fresh in her mind.
  • Maths
    • It was especially important to me that Charlie continue to memorise her addition and subtraction flashcards (0 through 10) so that we could continue on with the Singapore math curriculum. (More about that in a future post.) She’s making a lot of progress, but if we miss a day or two, I can tell it makes a huge difference. I want to set her up for success, so we do flashcards six days a week.
  • Reading
    • For Charlie, reading started to “click” in about March. Since then she has made a ridiculous amount of progress and flown through her Abeka K5 Phonics book and the Abeka Handbook for Reading. So in order to keep that skill sharp, I have her read one page in the Handbook for Reading and one or two pages in a reader everyday, plus a few pages of the phonics activity book. This keeps the sight words fresh in her mind, her reading speed is gradually increasing and her confidence is growing.
  • Writing
    • Not every day, but a few days a week, I will pull out a cursive writing sheet for her to practice on. She’s slowly but surely making progress in her writing. Her hand is getting more and more coordinated. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to have to pick up where she left off if we had taken a two-month break.
  • French & Science
    • These subjects are the most neglected this summer. Maybe once a week we will read books in French or read a lesson from her science book. I’m not exactly thrilled about this, but there is only so much time in a summer day. We’re going to finish the science book we have before September so that we can start a new book at the start of the new school year. And I have grand plans for 1st grade French (more about that to come). In the mean time, if we get to it, we get to it. C’est la vie.
  • Violin
    • Practicing a musical instrument daily is crucial for making progress. I can’t remember where I heard this, but the thing about missing a day of practice is that you don’t merely stay where you are, you get worse. You would have to practice every day simply to maintain your skill level, let alone get better. That’s why we practice six days a week. It’s not for very long, just long enough to review her repertoire and tackle a few measures of something new. I take the quantity over quality approach with this. I’d rather help her practice consistently every day, even if it’s for a short period and it’s just to review pieces she knows, than skip days and then spend long practice sessions trying to hammer down on a new piece. It’s a tortoise-and-the-hare kind of thing.
  • Dance
    • Ballet isn’t something we work on or practice at home, but I’m including it here because I do think being consistent over the summer with dance classes once or twice a week is important. The health benefits of being active and stretching go without saying. But I wanted to make sure that Charlie (and her muscles) remembers the steps she learned during the school year and will be ready to hit the ground running when the new year starts. Similar to practicing a musical instrument – you have to practice consistently just to maintain the level you are at.

Getting Ready for September

When we start our new school year in September, Charlie will officially be in 1st Grade. By working throughout the summer, we are able to tie up loose ends, and try to get each subject at a good starting point. I know some people don’t care about grade levels in the early years of homeschooling, but (1) it’s easier for me to stay organised if I commit her to one grade level and (2) for extracurriculars, I need to be able to say what grade she is in. And I want this to be as accurate as possible so that Charlie is put in classes with peers in terms of maturity level as opposed to age.

Three Reasons We Think You Should Summer School Too

Some people love it. Some people hate it. But doing school year-round has many advantages. Here are three that I think you should consider if you’re on the fence about homeschooling next summer.

1) Enjoy YOUR Favourite Weather

Depending on where you live, summer may or may not be an ideal time for outdoor play. Here in the South, the heat index can be over 100º F in the summer. Personally, I’d rather be inside in the AC. Hiking and other favourite outdoor activities are best enjoyed in spring and autumn. Save the outdoor adventure days for a time when the weather is actually nice and spend the gross, humid days inside an air-conditioned home reading a good book. It’s one of the many perks of homeschooling. You get to decide when the best time is to take a break from school.

2) Kids Thrive on Routine

It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, most thrive on having some sort of structure for their day. School, even a minimal version, is a great way to keep learning a daily habit and set expectations for the day. That doesn’t mean turning down playdates during the week or staying away from the pool. It just means having a default plan for your time.

3) “I don’t remember…”

When I used to teach high school, I remember having to plan on spending a good two weeks (or more) of the start of the semester reviewing last semester’s material. Why? The students had been out of school for over two months and forgot a lot of the material they had learned and would need to build on. It seemed counter-productive to take such a long break. Why let your kid fall behind on their skills when they worked so hard to get them where they are? For me, this is the most important reason to continue with school year-round. Taking too much time off all at once makes it really difficult to get back into the swing of things.