Even though we still have a few weeks left of the 2012-13 school year, I’ve been working on plans for this year’s summer school. This is something we’ve done every year, beginning in 2008 when we started homeschooling. That year, it was a test before Turkey and Bunny officially started kindergarten, to see if we thought homeschooling would work, which it obviously did. I’ve come up with a different theme every year since then, and we usually spend 2-3 weeks studying the year’s topic. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
- 2008—The Beijing Summer Olympics
- 2009—Astronomy (This just happened to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11)
- 2010—The Revolutionary War
- 2012—The London 2012 Olympics
This year, I’m planning on a British Children’s Lit and British history theme. We’ve focused a lot on science, world cultures, and history in previous years, so I thought a literature-heavy unit would be a nice change of pace, with a little history thrown in for fun. Plus, this way we get to continue our British studies that we started last year during the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics!
Our summer school days are shorter than the regular school year…last summer, I think we spent about 1-2 hours each morning on school. The amount of time we spend also depends partially on the topic (I think in 2011, our summer school days were shorter, because it was such a focused topic), and partly on the age of the students (in 2008, because my oldest students hadn’t even started kindergarten, our days were short, and consisted mostly of craft projects). We do try to involve all of the regular subjects in summer school, where appropriate, including math, reading, and handwriting, but there is definitely a more relaxed feeling to ur summer school lessons.
I’ve also used a wide variety of resources in summer school. Some things I’ve had to buy, like a Magic School Bus science kit the year we studied astronomy. Other times, I’ve printed a lot of our materials off of various websites, especially in Olympic years. We’ve also used videos to anchor our curriculum…the Liberty’s Kids DVDs have been essential in helping the children learn the “who’s who” of the American Revolution. Of course, the library is a great resource no matter the topic, and this was never more true than the year we studied birds…we came up with quite the bibliography for our science project!
This is something I really look forward to every year, along with our Thanksgiving and Christmas studies. It’s one of the few times where I work really hard to find craft projects, or other unique things we can do to help us learn. It’s also a time when I do most of the curriculum planning myself, and don’t depend on another resource to put it together for me. It can be exhausting, but it’s also fun to take an opportunity to be really creative!