Plans for “summer school” at home

plans for summer school at homeWritten by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats

This week our family completed our eleventh year of homeschooling. Really? How did that happen?! The time has passed so quickly. It seems like just yesterday my son was doing beginning reading and now this week he turns sixteen and reads his Latin book for fun!

Going into our twelfth year, I will have all six of my children in formal schooling as my baby enters kindergarten and her eldest brother eleventh grade. It’s pretty stunning to reflect over that time. Through the years I’ve encountered different learning styles, different temperaments, and different school schedules.

For many years we did school year-round because that worked best for us. My students were all young, and most of their friends did the same thing.

In this current season of life, it’s worked out that we prefer a true summer break. My kids love the more relaxed schedule and the opportunity to play with the neighbor kids. I love having fewer items on my to do list and the chance to focus on projects.

While we don’t have “formal school” during much of June, July, and August, we are still learning. In fact, we have what I would call, the homeschool equivalent to summer school.

When I was in junior high and high school, I took classes during the summer, classes that were interesting, that I would have to take eventually, and which were much more fun during summer vacation since the teachers were more relaxed. This summer, I’ve created a summer school line up for my kids.

I know my kids pretty well. I know that they could spend all summer playing video games — if I let them. But, I won’t. So, that means they’ll get uneasy. They have this innate sense that they could be learning or reading or doing something productive. That’s one thing that my older boys (ten and up) are very cognizant of. They might not admit it, but they love to learn.

So, here’s how we set up our “summer school”:

School computer

1. A round of math for everyone.

After much trial and error, I’ve settled on Teaching Textbooks as our math curriculum for third grade and above. This makes math doable all year round. This past year some kids finished early, some are still working on the last grade’s book. My solution is that everyone will do math every week day. I’ve talked about this for months; the kids know it’s coming.

I’ve also purchased some math games, so that there are different ways to think about mathematics and make it a little more relaxed. The computer math is an on-your-own kind of activity and doesn’t take up more than an hour of anyone’s day.

Doing math in the summer is a great way to keep skills sharp or work on some remedial topics.

2. Books, books, and books.

Part of our weekly schedule will include a trip to the library. Our local library offers a summer reading program. We’ve been hit and miss for the past few years, but no matter. My kids don’t need incentive to read. (If yours struggle a bit, try keeping a reading log and offering prizes for a certain number of minutes or books read.) Our problem is that we run out of books quickly. I have to keep them supplied in abundance.

Reading a book aloud together is a great way for us to spend time together each morning. Over breakfast lately, I’ve been reading The Railway Children. Before that we read all the Mysterious Benedict Society books. Next, we’ll probably tackle one of these series.

Whether they are reading on their own or with me, we’ll have our noses in books.

reading a book

3. Catch-up.

Inevitably, each child has something that we could play catch-up with. One really needs to polish his math facts. Another could use a little more practice in grammar. A couple need to hone their writing skills.

We’re going to spend a few minutes each day working on that thing that was challenging this past summer, hopefully in a more relaxed way. One will do math drills on the ipad. Another will spend 15 minutes with me a few days a week to complete the grammar book. The others will write in journals.

4. Field trips.

San Diego offers residents free museum admission on Tuesdays. We’ve never taken advantage of this, nor have we explored the vast arrays of museums and gardens that are available to us.

I’ve cleared my calendar for Tuesdays so we can do just that, plotting with neighborhood friends to go also so that the kids don’t think they’re missing out on playing together.

5. Something new!

Each of my bigger boys has chosen something fun to learn this summer. My incoming 8th grader is going to study filmmaking through the Compass Classroom.

My soon-to-be sixth grader has decided on an at-home cooking school. He really wants to make ravioli by hand and how to make a naturally-colored red velvet cake, so we’ll be exploring those recipes together, one per week. (He’s got a list of eight things!)

These are self-driven topics for them that we might not have time for during the regular school year. Instead these will be their summer projects that they really want to do.

This all sounds more intense than it will really be. Most of these things will be self-directed by the kids, with a little help from me. There will be plenty of days when we sit around and “do nothing”. But there will be lots of options for learning and exploring so that no one gets bored.

Do you do any summer learning activities planned?

PS. In light of the fact that I’ll have SIX students next year: in kindergarten, second, fourth, sixth, eighth, and eleventh grades, this will be my last post at Simple Homeschool. At least for awhile. You can keep up with our homeschooling antics over at Life as MOM. I hope to pop my head in over here from time to time, too!

About Jessica

Once a public high school teacher, Jessica now homeschools five of her six children, covering 2nd through 10th grades. Her oldest is in college, so the experiment appears to have worked! Grab a copy of Jessica’s new cookbook Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less and the accompanying monthly meal plan to help you save money, eat well, and enjoy some freer time.


  1. I love it. We are doing a very similar idea this summer. My soon to be sixth grader boy wants to make ravioli by hand this summer too. That is funny.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the Film making course! I can’t wait to do this with my son!

  3. I really like this. We are also continuing lite schooling. I find that no school leads to no structure and fighting and bad moods. Being that my oldest is entering 2nd grade, I am trying to work out how this would look on paper. Who does what and when and what the others will do while one is with mom.
    Is there a specific way you have written this out?

    • This is our first week off and we’re truly taking it “off”. On Monday we’ll enact a daily schedule. I imagine this will be chores, reading, math, and projects in the am and lots of free time in the afternoon. Field trip day is Tuesday. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I want it to be loose with a little backbone.
      Jessica’s latest post: Summer School, yes, Really.

  4. Our summer break is May-July. So, as of the start of June I started feeling that predictable need for more structure. We’ve been doing a bit of school for “fun”, but nothing as planned out as you have. But, my kids area also enjoying VBS right now. It’s a very nice break for a homeschool mom!
    Rachel at Stitched in Color’s latest post: Love in Sunny Cabins

  5. We are continuing in the summer with
    for all my kids to keep their math facts up and solid.
    For the two middle kids both reading and math seeds.
    For my oldest.

    Then various book programs through the library and online.

  6. We are getting ready to start officially homeschooling in the fall with my daughter starting kindergarten. She is so excited that she wants to start RIGHT now. 😉 We are getting ready with lots of fun summer reading, library activities, outdoor projects and crafts (mark a few things off those Pinterest boards) , and maybe learn to tie dye with a cute kit we picked up.
    Katie’s latest post: Recipes from the Mud Pie Kitchen

  7. Antionette Robinson says:

    We are continuing math everyday for the summer as well. I have some avid readers and will be spending A LOT of time at the library too! We are doing some electives over the summer that we don’t have time for during the school year. We picked up a Spanish curriculum and it takes a little bit of time for everyone to sit and listen and practice. We also are doing a music curriculum that is online. It makes it very flexible and it is something the kids are enjoying. We have annual passes to the Aquarium where we live and they have a small splash pad. There is nothing like a quick review from science this year at the aquarium followed by a splashing good time at the splash pad! I have 6 and just finished up our first year of homeschooling. I am excited for next year!

  8. May I ask what part of San Diego you’re in? I’m in north county.

  9. I was planning in taking the summer off, but my 8 year old wanted to do history. So, we’re spending the summer doing a Civil war unit study. Fun times!!

  10. Cathy Lange says:

    We love the free museum days! Make sure you get to the Ruben H. early on its free day! Lots and lots of people!

  11. Through Crystal Paine’s “Money Saving Mom” blog I found the “Easy Peasy All in one Homeschool” site and knew that it would be the base of our summer “enrichment”. So far it’s been wonderful, with all kinds of Internet links and sites I would’ve never found! We began this the day after our last day of school, and so far so good. We’re also finishing up grammar and doing tons of reading, plus beach days, pool, and lots of exploration. I hope to get my 7 year old up and running on Garage Band this summer. He’s already tried recording multi-track songs on a basic recording device, so why not help him learn the “real thing”!

  12. What an awesome summer you have planned! I don’t homeschool but we are doing a summer reading program with a tutor at the local library that includes an activity each day and of course reading! We will also be helping at VBS at our church and we have church camp so our summer will be over before we know it!
    elle’s latest post: Wheat Reaction

  13. We do a very similar summer school schedule, although we have not gotten as much math done as I have wanted, we are working on the other stuff. I find I needed the break more than the kids, so I give myself a little break from pushing!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Menu for the week/My little greenhouse

  14. We do a very relaxed school schedule all year long. I only do 1-2 hours of formal schooling (me leading it mostly) per day. The rest of the time, the kids pretty much uschool, which means that they are learning through video, playing, reading or on their own chosen way. So during summer, we keep on learning. The Grandparents are usually visiting, so our learning intensifies as we learn a lot with them.
    tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations’s latest post: Learning Log of May 2013

  15. How great! I also like to have summer teachings and trips. I think they’re much more fun than school, and I see the kids enjoy them much more. We also try to find thinks they are interested in, and make it a learning experience. Last summer my 12 year old was really interested in space, so we took a trip the the local observatory. I think we all had more fun than we were expecting.
    Sarah’s latest post: Dippin’ Dots Maker

  16. kathy Evans says:

    My son and nephew are having trouble with thier school word it. Stresses them out.they said the teacher doesn’t. Explan the words right.what can. Do for them to catch up thier credit and school.

  17. Each of my school kids (grade 7, 5, 3, 1) have one or two school books for our formal subjects to finish (Phonics, Spelling, or English). This past school year has been challenging for us so we got behind. We do Math all year as well with Saxon Math books and online math games. We do most of our science in the summer because there are usually outdoor experiments and exploring that is needed. The kids love doing science and look forward to it. I would like them to read more as well. I need to get to the Library more. I really struggle with making this apart of our routine. Thank you for your book recommendations. I also like your idea of letting them choose something to learn over the summer.

  18. It’s 2017 and I’m here reading this post 🙂 I love it. My kids are littler…and I have this sense of the passage of time. I want to make the most of our summer times together. My daughter and I made a bucket-list so we could have a bit of a “plan” this summer too. I hope to get this list into my planner, and get all the supplies so we can really enjoy our time together.

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