Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies
I’ve mentioned before that our family takes a structured summer break.
I didn’t set out to be a year-round homeschooler. In fact, I’d like nothing more than a lazy summer filled with simple pleasures:
- Lemonade stands
- Rootbeer floats
- Frog catching
- S’mores galore
- Backyard campouts
- Parcheesi on the porch
And that’s about all we did our first summer or two…
The problem is, September was miserable. Re-entry felt impossible. Power struggles and sibling squabbles skyrocketed.
Some children benefit from a structured summer break filled with super simple learning opportunities
The truth is, while I might want a summer filled with nothing but white space and watermelon, my children crave something else. They feel better when our days have a bit of structure to them. Nothing crazy, just a little predictability.
When we take a structured summer break, September is a friend. We are all ready for her when she arrives. Re-entry is easier, welcome even.
In our world, a structured summer break is pretty simple:
- Pick a topic of study or a favorite rabbit hole
- Start the day with a read-aloud
- End the day with a read-aloud
- Bonus points for sprinkling related activities in between on some of the days. This could be a field trip, a family movie night, or a fantastic conversation.
(I call this type of learning a “Lazy Unit Study” and if you are interested in learning more, I have a course for you! Just use the code LAZYSUMMER to get 20% your purchase! Sign up here.)
Children who crave structure and routine love this simple predictability. Plus, depending on the topic of study, this simple summer learning can be fun for the entire family.
The first summer we did this, we started and ended our days with Dahl. Every morning, we’d have Coffee and Books with a Roald Dahl book. We’d have a leisurely read-aloud, taking time to pause and answer any questions. Then, we’d carry on with the rest of our day. Later, we’d read Dahl before bed.
And, because it was summer, I happily agreed to those pleas for “just one more chapter” and sometimes we’d read a few more!
On the days when we finished a Dahl book, we’d schedule a family movie night for that evening.
Friends, there is nothing like watching the film version of a favorite novel on the day you wrap up that last chapter! It’s magical! The conversations you have with your children, the memories you are making, all of it.
Not to mention the fact that we added a million literary-inspired sayings and inside jokes:
- “Don’t be such a Trunchbull!”
- “The snozberries taste like snozberries!”
- “Gobblefunk around”
- “Human beans”
We loved our Dahl rabbit hole so much that we ended the summer by reading Dahl’s book, Boy, which is filled with tales from his own childhood. We still talk about how wonderful that summer was for all of us.
The following summer, we got lost in the world of E.B. White. There’s nothing quite like reading Trumpet of the Swan during a lakeside picnic, or reading Charlotte’s Web over breakfast and then heading to the CSA to pick up your veggies and visit the animals.
This type of learning is a great fit for the summer months.
You can select a favorite author and get lost down a rabbit hole together. Set up a routine to read-aloud first thing in the morning and again in the evening. This simple routine will be calming to your kiddos who crave routine and predictability.
Plus, I promise you, those kiddos will learn plenty and make memories to last a lifetime!
Another idea for a simple, structured summer routine is to explore a current area of passion.
Currently, my three kiddos are all fascinated with biology and human anatomy. Coincidentally, Body Worlds is coming to Boston’s Museum of Science this summer. I decided now is the perfect time to have a Lazy Unit Study featuring health and human anatomy.
With some incredible books from BookShark and a few gameschool favorites, we are off and running. I’m excited to see where this Lazy Unit Study leads us, and what we will think about it come September!
(Psst! If you’d like to learn more about Lazy Unit Studies, I have a brand-new course for you! Just use the code LAZYSUMMER to get 20% your purchase! Sign up here.)
Tell me: Do you take a structured summer break? What simple summer learning activities do you have planned? Share here!
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We don’t purposely homeschool year round, but it happens. Read alouds and audiobooks are plentiful during longer day trips. History is one subject we continue all year long and typically we use the summer months to explore something new like an instrument, language or sport/activity.
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Thanks, Becky! I love summer learning. Enjoy your history rabbit holes!
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: Coffee and Books with Beautiful Feet Books: A Memorable Start to the Day!
We definitely homeschool year round because we need the structure. But we do more fun stuff instead of textbook stuff. I love your summer plan and all your read aloud time, Cait! Sounds like summertime bliss!
Hi, Deneen!!! Happy summer to you!
Cait’s latest post: Coffee and Books with Beautiful Feet Books: A Memorable Start to the Day!
I can’t believe I’m just seeing this post – I love it, and I’m totally snagging your ideas to use with my boys when they get sick of my “Stay Sharp This Summer” antics (which they do every summer). I love the theme idea – it can be a super lazy unit study, which suits summer me just fine. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂