Summertime in South Florida is…hot. For me, these muggy summer days offer the perfect opportunity to evaluate my kiddo’s performance over the last year. In fact, reviewing how our previous homeschool year has gone is one of my chief priorities during the first weeks of summer break. Here are some of the questions I typically ask myself when reviewing:

  • Did my children struggle with certain subjects?
  • Did they excel at things that surprised me?
  • Should I challenge them more, or relax the pace?
  • Have they showed interest in other areas I should explore?
  • What subjects, methods, or approaches did they connect with most?
  • What knowledge gaps do they have compared with students of similar ages or grade levels?

I learned the hard way that you can’t just wait for August or September to roll around to start thinking about the upcoming year. We did that our first year of homeschooling and suffered the summer slide. Not sure what summer slide is? Just to quickly sum it up, it means that if your child’s brain doesn’t stay actively engaged, he or she can lose a lot of the learning progress made from the previous year. So, if this is your first year homeschooling and haven’t heard about summer brain drain yet, read these tips on how to prevent learning loss this summer.

Instead, when looking at the results of my evaluation, I can re-envision summer break as an opportunity to both prevent learning loss and prepare them for success in their upcoming school year. That doesn’t mean I want my kids to have their noses to the grindstone all summer, of course. It simply means finding fun and creative ways to keep their brains in gear! Some of the ways we accomplish this during the summer months include:

  • Online learning. I am a huge advocate of technology, and learning online is just a beautiful thing this day in age. Not only do I use Time4Learning throughout the school year, but also for summer school. They offer 6-week summer-learning plans for grades K-8, which gives us a handy outline of things to focus on.
    Other online learning resources we use throughout the summer are:

    • Presidential unit studies: Give your students a refresh on the presidents! Let’s face it, almost everyone forgets the presidents, and this is a fun way to keep it fresh in their minds. Inside each post are fun activities tied to each president.
    • State History/Geography Facts: Doing a dedicated study of your state is another fun summer activity—particularly if you can tie in educational field trips. Kids can learn about each state’s history and geography with the these unit studies.
    • LearningGamesforKids: This site offers tons of games to tie in with the unit studies above, among so many other topics!
    • National Geographic Kids: Lets your students explore the fun videos, games, and animals this site offers.
    • Online Writing Courses: Time4Writing offers fun, eight-week writing courses in sentence writing, paragraph writing, essay writing, and more. We’ve found these to be the perfect focused writing project. And my kids love the feedback they get from their course instructors!
    • The Discovery’s virtual field trips: Take a virtual field trip to an amazing place your student would like to explore (highly recommend the Spider-Man video, that is my son’s favorite!).
    • Time4MathFacts: This incentivized math game provides virtual rewards for memorizing math facts through video-game style play. It’s so much fun that the kids hardly realize they are learning new skills.
    • PBS Games for Kids: I don’t use this one as much as the other ones, but when my kids are needing a bit more variety I’ll have them play some of the games on this site.
  • Board games. Honestly, I’ve found that whatever learning gap my child has, there is usually a board game that addresses it. Over the years I’ve accumulated some terrific subject-focused games like Rummikub for math, TrailBlazer for history, Science Explosion for science, Scrabble and Bananagrams for language arts and BrainQuest for multiple subjects.
  • Printables! From crossword puzzles to word searches to biography organizers and more. A quick search in google for the topic you wish to have your child brush up on along with the word “Free Printable” will return quite a few results. Download it, print it, and bring it along on your next car trip or pool play date.
  • Documentaries. While we do implement video documentaries throughout the school year, we typically stick to the same topic as our other studies. During the summer, it is a free-for-all. I let my kids bounce around different topics they are interested in learning more about.
  • Summer camps. Do your kids have any particular interests? My son attended a 6-week coding course over the summer and loved it. Check to see if there are any summer camps in the area your kids would like to attend.
  • Local Events. Check out your local libraries, zoos, museums, universities, etc. They tend to offer many fun events for all ages throughout the summer! With all the free time over the summer, I tend to schedule a lot of these. The best thing is that my kiddos always want to go back. It’s a win-win: learning & having fun!
  • Learn to use the resources around you. I make the most out of every activity or day/night out. I mean everything around you is a learning experience. Going out to eat? I let my kids review the bill and calculate the tip. Going to the grocery store? We make a list, create a budget, and make sure we stay within that budget while shopping. Going to grab ice cream? Find the best/fastest route to get there. This post provides some pretty cool ideas on how to motivate your child to learn math through daily life activities.

There are so many ways you can keep your children learning while still having fun. These are my ideas, but you can incorporate your own and save yourself loads of work once you get back home from either vacation or staycation. You’ll also avoid playing “catch up” once the school year starts because your children will have already reviewed their previous work.

Think of summer as a laid-back—but knowledge-filled—transition between homeschool years. Use your time wisely for skill-building purposes, catching up on certain subjects, review, educational exploration into various electives, and some healthy brain exercise. And if you haven’t yet, give Time4Learning a try and watch as your kids become engrossed in the technology. You will be happy you did once the new school year starts again.

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