Spring is upon us and traditionally this means the school year is coming to an end for many children. It also means I get questions about whether or not I will be schooling my kids in the summer. I always struggle with this question because our learning environment is hands on, project based, and involves many real world experiences through field trips. Therefore, do we ever stop learning?
I try to keep a balance for the summer. The few structured subjects we have ( math and language arts) do get pushed aside until fall. We take do not take out our Life of Fred math nor do we do formal writing assignments. But we continue to visit museums, play games, watch an occasional documentary, hike, and read. As we have progressed through our homeschool experience, my children have initiated more and more projects. They seem to constantly have ideas and plans to try.
For us, summer is a time of relaxation and a chance to focus on those interests that my children may not have had time to pursue during the traditional school year.
Last summer my daughter spent time on drawing and reading. She read around 12-15 books. My son worked on Lego building. This summer my daughter would like to learn more about composition and editing in photography. She has been taking photos for photography club but has had little time to learn the editing software.
Summer can be a great time for your child to focus on an interest and independently learn something new. If you have a budding writer it could be creating a play. If you have a budding entrepreneur it could be learning how to market their idea/creations. If you have a science lover it could be doing a long term science project. The possibilities are endless! Here are a few suggestions on having a self-directed learning environment this summer:
1. Talk with your child about his or interests. Is there a hobby or subject matter they would like to pursue? It could be anything from art to computer programming to Lego design.
2. Let the idea be the child’s idea. This is not the time to for you to suggest something that you had wanted them to accomplish in the school year. It is so tempting to want to lead our child into a project we think is important and need to complete for the school year. I can tell you from experience that if it is not their idea they will not actively immerse themselves in it.
3. Help them acquire the supplies and resources. If they want to learn programming download Scratch or Hopscotch. If they would like to learn knitting take them to get some yarn and needles. Point the child in the right direction but let them research and play around independtly as much as possible. When they ask for assistance, then help them the best you can.
4. Finally, remember that it is summer and they will work on their project at their leisure. There will still be video games, movie watching and outdoor play. But a project they can pick up and work on whenever they want can help when summer boredom creeps into the day!strong>
How does this help promote learning? By independently working on a project the child is developing:
— concentration skills
— research skills
–mastery of knowledge in a subject area
–a love for learning
–ownership of his/learning
I would love to hear what your child is learning this summer!