Once again, it’s summer, and even though the pandemic classroom of the past year was different in many ways, one thing remained the same for traditional schools: the celebratory last day before summer vacation. Kids told one another, “see you next year,” and they ran for the school buses or clicked off their computer screens.
Then, as Alice Cooper so famously sang, school was out for summer.
But, while the lessons are over for some kids, a substantial chunk of the homeschool community continues on much the same as always.
Homeschool is not traditional school. Quite often, school’s not “out” for summer because their teachers (a.k.a. parents) recognize the fact that learning never stops and home education has no mandatory schedule.
Homeschool is about embracing a lifestyle of lifelong learning, developing a deep sense of curiosity about the world, and exploring complex interests. Summer can be the best time to dive deep into the experience.
Math happens in the kitchen, baking brownies and making change at a local craft fair. Or maybe math is measuring twice and cutting once while building a new deck on the back of the house or sewing decorative table runners.
Science takes place outside in the backyard, watching strawberries grow from blossoms to blooms to berries. It occurs late at night with a telescope pointed at the moon or searching for a giant red spot on Jupiter, catching glimpses of meteors, or focusing in on a dark, starry sky.
On lazy summer afternoons, reading may last for hours in a hammock in the back yard. And after all the reading, P.E. might be a bike ride, a dip in a swimming pool, or a game of baseball or softball.
There’s time for theatre, art, and music, too. 4-H projects are finished for the county and state fairs. Family vacations reveal rich tapestries of history or geography. Life lessons abound with summer jobs and volunteer projects.
Contrary to stereotypes, homeschool kids have active social lives during the school year and during the summer, because their friendships have never revolved solely around a building, but instead around shared interests and values.
Homeschool’s not out for summer because homeschool isn’t drudgery. It’s not about finishing workbook pages, sitting in desks, or studying for high stakes tests. Because learning hasn’t been stigmatized as a negative to be avoided, homeschooled kids continue on their merry way all summer long.
Done right, and with the correct balance between work and play, discipline and relaxation, summer school can become the best school of all. Rather than a time of punishment or extra days to make up for failed classes, the season offers the promise of unique opportunities and time to explore them.
Why would kids want school to be out for summer when it’s so much fun?
Gina Prosch educates her children at home in Mid-Missouri. She is also a homeschool life coach (and parent) who blogs and shares homeschool resources at www.TheHomeschoolWay.com. She is also the co-host of The OnlySchoolers Podcast.
Image: Wikimedia CCA 3.0