5 Ways to Encourage Summer Learning

The following is a guest post written by Erin Walton of Mama in Progress.

Summer months are spent differently in every homeschooling family, from a full stop to schooling all the way through- and all kinds of variations in between.

No matter where you fall on that spectrum, the summer months can be a great time to try on a different education style or go for a project you might not try during the regular school year.

These are a few ideas designed to bring learning into your summer, no matter what type of summer schooling family you might be.

1. Start a creek exploration club.

Call up some like-minded friends and plan a few regular trips to a local creek. Check out the wildlife, explore the water, maybe take some samples and see where this adventure takes you.

Don’t have a creek? Any pond, lake or local nature wonder will do. This can be as “schooly” as you and your kids desire it to be- outfit them with field guides, binoculars, and nature notebooks or simply get them to the location and let them explore.

Encourage Learning: Do this more than just once or twice so you can compare experiences and your child’s observation skills have a chance to grow.

2. Go on a quest.

Photo by bradleypjohnson

Summer is the perfect opportunity to work with focus on a skill- it can be learning to knit or sew, a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie even if you have to bake (and eat) 50 different kinds to do so, or making 100 vinegar and baking soda volcanoes before September rolls around… anything goes!

No matter how silly the quest seems to be, the real learning comes from sticking with a project, thinking about how to improve each time you work at the quest or simply reaching that lofty goal of 100 volcanoes.

Encourage Learning: Go on your own quest alongside your kids. Seeing you work hard at a goal to learn something new shows your kids that their perseverance will pay off big time if they can stick with it like you do.

3. Set up a family reading challenge.

Need to encourage reading in those free summer months? Set up a family reading challenge- adults too! All you need is a simple chart and a short family meeting about goals to set you on your way.

You can decide what works best for each family member- does someone need to read a certain number of books? A certain amount of time? A certain number of pages?  Do you have a reading list you’d like them to choose from? Help each person set a goal, set a time limit and GO!

Encourage Learning: Don’t forget a reward at the end- a trip out for ice cream or to play mini-golf is a great way to celebrate all that reading.

4. Have a Q & A Session.

Photo by jeffisageek

This is your chance: Ask those burning questions you’ve always had and encourage your kids to do the same. Set out together to find the answers. It might involve an experiment, probably a trip or two to the library or maybe just a quick computer search, but whatever path it takes the key is that you are doing it together.

You might be forced to do an experiment to figure out how many water balloons it takes to completely soak Dad from head to toe, but the knowledge is worth the sacrifice, right? I don’t know about you, but I would love to go to a summer school with a class called Water Balloons 101.

Encourage Learning: Use this time to help your kids understand that they can find the answers to their questions. The library and the internet can be powerful tools, but be sure to give them personal experience when you can. Added bonus? You’ll find out a little more about what your kids interests are, and can use that knowledge to tailor their school year learning.

5. Set a summer school block.

You can definitely keep school going in a more traditional sense during the summer and many families do. But if you’re looking for something a little different, consider dedicating your summer to a single topic, perhaps one that seems to get pushed aside during the school year like art, music appreciation or geography.

Without the pressure to get to core subjects you can feel free to really explore your subject and follow it in any direction it takes you.

Encourage Learning: Step outside your usual style and explore your topic in a new way- maybe try out lapbooking, provide some new-to-you art mediums, or plan a few day trips to explore state history.

How do you plan to encourage your kids’ learning this summer?


  1. great ideas!
    i bought for my two children (10 and 8 years old) preparation books to thier next year. i do it every summer. they study one hour or two at a day. very recommended!
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  2. I am planning on starting our homeschool routines for the first time this summer. My girls are very young, so I am introducing a circle time routine and a little time for fun workbooky stuff – simple but routined. I love these ideas for exploration! We are doing a reading worm this summer to see how long we can make it before September!

  3. My son does go to preschool 3 mornings a week- and he loved it- so my 2 big girls are making a preschool class for the two little ones this summer- basically organized play. So far, so good!

  4. The kids and I sat down and made a great list together … But so far the summer has been so busy! I keep wondering when the proverbial lazy days of summer will kick in.
    When choosing more organized activities for them, I try to find opportunities that aren’t available to us, or we’re too busy for, during the year.
    And I want to take care of my own learning this summer as well!
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  5. I’m instituting your reading tip tomorrow. I think a mini-golf trip would work wonders for our family to work toward! I also love the idea of a quest! What a fun way to make summer memorable and learning oriented. Thank you so much!
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  6. Great ideas for summer schooling! you know what else might work…? perhaps taking the kids out for museums, trips and etc…. loved your post…as always 🙂
    Have a great day,
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  7. great post. i think the best way to make kids learn new things at summer time, is by making it fun! not just sitting in front of the books (like the regular way) i beleive they can study from anything – just take them outside, even to zoo, and tell them new things they didn’t learn in school…
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  8. I love your ideas because they are all about having fun & that’s what summer is for! 🙂
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  9. My kids always loved having more time to explore the woods, or do science experiments, or read for hours on end!
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  10. What great ideas! I’m so glad I found this site. I’m using summer as a tester for homeschooling as I have two pre-k kids and one that I’d like to get out of the public system. I’d love more tips on getting the kids to read. My oldest just completed 1st grade and is very unsure of himself. I love reading and I hope that my kids enjoy it too.
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  11. We are doing a reading challenge. If they meet their goal, they will get a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble. I don’t mind bribing in this way. After all…it’s just going to lead to more books/reading!

  12. Hi Erin,
    What fun ideas! Combining learning with having fun is a great way for kids to absorb their lessons more quickly. I’ve started a small list of activities and I’m going to add yours to it. They would be a welcome change from computer games and endless TV watching.
    My youngest loves to explore so we’re planning on having more outdoor learning activities for this summer.
    Thanks for sharing!
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  13. Those are some great plans!!! My son naturally asks the questions….yesterday we were discussing who named America and today, who invented terry cloth towels.
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  14. We were thinking of doing a summer project this year- something crafty!
    I also picked up a couple of nature books/journals which we have been taking on walks with us, my 6 year old son loves it and has been taking it very seriously to find the different animals in the book and document them.
    I am also encouraging my boys to continue reading- one has only just started reading, and the other has found reading a difficult skill to master, so I am keen they continue in the progress they have been making, our local library has a summer reading challenge that they have all signed up to.
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