Homeschooling Year Round

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

We did our usual homeschooling routine year round until my sons realized (around age 9 or 10) that other kids had the summers off. Then I had to be sneakier about it.

Basically, my sneaky approach amounted to me creating a list of cool places to go and fun things to do for the summer and charting our course. I also nudged some of the reading choices for the summer book club at the library to hit on the topics I wanted to chat about over the summer. And of course we did all kinds of nature crafts and outdoor projects that just don’t work well in the house or during other seasons. Fishing (and cleaning the fish- also known as dissection), studying ant hills, hatching monarchs,  papier mache projects, building chicken coops, bird houses/ bird feeders, rabbit hutches or whatever else might be on your “to do” list, planting and growing things, geo-caching, exploring somewhere new, etc.

On my website you’ll find a field trip listing. You can easily sort through it to determine which are better for which season, and plan accordingly. Day trips or weekend trips to different state parks, historic sites, nature centers and other destinations around the state are also great summer learning opportunities.

Our state parks have a Junior Naturalist program that includes free workbooks at the parks and help kids learn about the plants and animals that make MN their home. Our parks also have interpretive centers to explore and really fun gift shops.

A summer trip to Walnut Grove, or the Minneopa waterfall, or to the Eagle Center. There are such incredible places to explore!  Check out www.minnesotaexplorer.org and start making your own list. And check out my article on “summer fun”.

We also kept up with math games to keep skills sharp. In the summer, these games moved out of doors as much as possible. We played “giant calculator” by making a giant calculator with sidewalk chalk in the driveway. I stepped on keys to create the math problem and the kids had to hop to the answer. Or we’d be walking the dog and I’d challenge them to add two house numbers together in their head, or to round house numbers to the nearest 100. After picking our cherry tomatoes or raspberries, they would sit at the picnic table with a scale and weigh our bounty (and figure out who picked the most). We would have races up and down the block and time each other with a stop watch (on foot, on bikes, hopping, skipping, whatever made the experience new again).

And there are lots of options for math games in the car if you’re taking summer trips. Adding or subtracting license numbers, rounding license numbers, finding license plates that have numbers more than 200 but less than 500 (or any other target range), calculating gas mileage, calculating how many miles to the next rest stop or to your destination, and working with map skills. Anything that gets the numbers off of the worksheet and into their head is a great reinforcement of skills learned!