A structured summer break for kids who crave routine

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple HomeschoolWritten By Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies.

We are year-round homeschoolers.

(Well, sort of.)

I didn’t set out to homeschool year-round. I wanted our summer days to be filled with watermelon and popsicles, sandy toes and cannonballs, shooting stars and fireflies.

But…

I’ve come to the conclusion that my kids crave structure.

Whenever we stay up too late, whenever we veer a smidge too far from our normal path, I notice a change. There is an increase in power struggles, sibling squabbles, and tears.

As a result, I’ve learned that homeschooling year-round works best for us right now, in this season.

Here’s how we homeschool in the summer and still have plenty of time for popsicles and cannonballs and shooting stars:

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Photo by MemoryCatcher

How to take a structured summer break

The trick to a structured summer break is to choose educational activities that your children love and then find a summer rhythm.

And then you call it homeschooling, even if it feels like you’re cheating a little. 

Some days, this means nothing more than calling a trip to the beach a science field trip. Other days, it means following a more relaxed version of what you do during the school year.

We are a family of morning people and so we tackle most of these items in the morning, with a few sprinkled throughout the day.

And this leaves us with plenty of time for all those summer favorites, cannonballs included.

Start the morning with a routine

We start our summer mornings the same way we start our mornings during the school year: with Coffee and Books. This simple morning activity is the anchor of our homeschool day. It is a tradition everyone loves because it starts our day off with connection and fun.

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

There’s something magical about sharing a book from your childhood with your children and I try to do this often during the summer. I have such fond memories of my 2nd-grade teacher reading The BFG to our class.

Add some fun math

We are a family of gameschoolers and summer allows us to play even more. Gameschooling is fun for everyone and it is a fantastic way to practice math skills … without your kids realizing it!

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

I absolutely love to pair books and games. It is our family’s favorite way to learn. The King’s Chessboard is a perfect math story to pair with the game.

And a smidge of writing

Our family follows the Brave Writer Lifestyle and summer affords countless opportunities for fun writing activities, from postcards to nature journals to scrapbooks.

One easy way to squeeze in daily writing is by having morning journal time. We love these 3-year journals. The daily prompts are fun and non-intimidating–perfect for summer learning!

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Add an audiobook

A simple way to sneak in some learning – and fun- during the summer months is to stock up on audiobooks and stories. We listen to these stories over meals and whenever we are in the car.

Sprinkle in some family movie nights

Summer is the perfect time for family movie nights because everyone stays up a little bit later.

We love to listen to a fantastic book and then watch the movie. Pairing books with movies leads to fantastic family conversations and learning.

Play, play, play

It is often said that play is the language of childhood. And while play is important all year long, there is certainly extra space for it during the summer months!

Play is learning, but if you are having trouble “counting” it as homeschool, add a little structure.

You could leave a play invitation in a sunny spot:

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Or, you could provide your children with a challenge such as constructing a fort (STEM!), building a tiny fairy village (art!), or helping in the garden (nature!).

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Another idea is to have what my youngest calls “a game picnic.” We will often grab a game and head to the park or toss a waterproof game in our bag and head to the beach.

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Once the play begins, sit back, sip your coffee, and watch the learning unfold!

Don’t forget to fill your mama soul

Let’s not forget summer self-care for the homeschool mom. It is so important to take care of yourself during summer break. For me, this means poolside professional development.

(Really, this is a fancy way to say that I read oodles of delicious books by the pool.)

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

My children are happiest near water and so we try to swim as much as possible each week. I am happiest reading near water and so I try to do as much of that as possible.

It’s a win-win for all.

A Structured Summer Break for Kids Who Crave Routine | Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Summer homeschooling should be fun

You need to figure out what feeds your family’s soul and do more of that during the summer months so that you can greet September with a smile.

We homeschool our children year-round because they crave routine. The trick to taking a structured summer break is to find a rhythm, sprinkle in a few favorite educational activities, and have fun.

Are you a year-round homeschooler too? Share here.

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About Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. You can also find her hanging out with Kara at The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.

Comments

  1. I love this Caitlin! What a lovely post, and exactly what I’ve been thinking about–we are going to have a structured (&fun!) summer too. Thanks!
    Kari Patterson’s latest post: How the presence of danger defines love…

  2. Love this! So many great ideas. It reframes what learning looks like and can look like when we invite play into our day.
    Kelly Sage’s latest post: Junior Ranger Programs | Explore National Parks with Children

  3. We are schooling through the summer this year because I worked full time in an office for most of the last school year and virtually no schoolwork got done. Now that I’m working full time from home, we have a pretty good routine of schoolwork in the mornings followed by screen time in the afternoon. I’m planning on continuing through the summer because I have to work anyway and we can’t go anywhere or do anything fun during the daytimes.
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  4. I love this! We have been homeschooling for 5 years and sometimes I still struggle to find the balance between school & fun. Thank you so much for the great ideas!

  5. Hey Caitlin, love these ideas. My kids need structure too. We do a lot of these activities in the summer as well but a few are brand new so thanks!
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  6. Love this! Very important question: WHERE did you get your Mr. Roger’s coffee mug? Because it’s amazing!

  7. Oh my goodness – Yes! This like one million times (and the fairy house is a great idea. My boys are all over it.) Incidentally, we are making your giant bubbles tomorrow for a little bit of summer fun. 🙂
    Shawna Wingert’s latest post: Summer Sensory Hacks For Kids (and their moms too!)

  8. Ceci Albecker says:

    What are your favorite books so far this spring/summer?

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! I was wondering what your son is playing with in the sunny spot photo? Do you have a link to them?
    I love your post!
    Thanks!
    Elizabeth

  10. Chrystal says:

    YAY! So many great ideas and we do structure all year long as we do lessons year round. Without them the kids get cranky too easily. Much easier to stick to our morning routine three days a week and allow the rest of the time during the week to be unfettered play and learning hands on.

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