Monday, May 5, 2014

Summer School

Well, schoolwork and exams are finished (I'm planning to wrap up our Year 2 studies and share on our exams another day!) and we are officially on break!  We'll start up again in July, most likely, depending on how we've adapted to having a newborn in the house once again.  That gives us about two months off.

But we won't be entirely off; I see a lot of value in keeping a lightened summer school routine for us, as we did last year.  My plan has always been to school year-round for some subjects and on a more traditional schedule for others.

I like to keep skill-based subjects going a few times a week, not necessarily looking toward getting ahead but just focusing on keeping memory and skills fresh and keeping traction in areas we have progress in.  For us, that means math, penmanship, Italian, memory work, and piano.  But unlike during the school year, I aim to hit those "daily" items just three times a week (we aim for four during the school year), taking a bit over an hour:

Math - 25 minutes
Penmanship (printing and cursive) - 10 minutes
Italian - 15 minutes
Memory work - 10 minutes
Piano - 20 minutes

I also have casual plans for some of our other subjects, like...

:: time listening to our composer selections from the previous year
:: lots of read-alouds and audiobooks
:: a monster stack of books to stock my big kids' shelf, who will have more free (reading) time on their hands and are always happy to have something new to read
:: our weekly nature study outing and journal entry
:: a few nature projects: raising butterflies, monitoring our (tiny) garden, working on learning the calls of our local birds, building our wildflower collection
:: revamped chore routines as we re-calibrate life with a new little one in our home
:: a read through of Beatrix Potter's collection (I did this a few years ago with my two oldest but the littles have only read a few favorites--time to remedy that!)

And then my kids have their own projects in mind:

:: some beginning cooking lessons (my girls' request)
:: lots of hours out back, particularly in the cool mornings (my boys' request)
:: more time for handicrafts, drawing, and piano (my oldest daughter's request)
:: continuing our simple reading lessons (my soon-to-be-kindergartener's request)
:: more chess with Daddy (my big kids' request)

...and I'm hoping to have a bit more time to read picture books while snuggling on the sofa with my littles. :)

I'm happy to say that this Charlotte Mason approach to education has done a wonderful job so far at educating my children's sensibilities: when I ask what they would like to do with the time that stretches before them over the next couple months, I get heart-pleasing answers that I am happy to help satisfy!

So what do you have planned for summer?  Do you keep up with school year-round, or do you love a complete summer break?  


  1. Your plans sound wonderful, and much like what I'll be doing once we're on summer break too. We'll be wrapping up the school year at the end of May and starting up again the last week of July if all goes as planned. During break we'll be doing math, copywork, memorywork and Spanish approximately three times a week. I will probably be finishing up The Taming of the Shrew and our Plutarch selection into June as well - we're just a little bit behind, but given how much we enjoy it I don't anticipate that being seen as a negative. And lots of read alouds as well. (I did a complete read through of the Beatrix Potter books with my 5 year old in the fall because he hadn't heard all of them either - we really enjoyed it)

    Otherwise we're planning on some gardening (we're trying Square Foot Gardening this year - can't wait to see how it goes!), hiking, lots of outdoor time, and playtime at the lake where my parents live. My husband will be taking the older two on a couple backpacking trips and maybe even do a little more rock climbing with them too. The kids are talking about making natural paints, building forts, taking care of the garden, and making more bows and arrows out of sticks and string. It sounds like the makings of a good summer!

    1. I forgot to mention it here, but we will actually be doing a couple weekly "scheduled readings" too--not because we're behind, but because AO doesn't schedule the whole book in the course of the school year (Robin Hood--which we're listening to an audio and LOVING) and maybe Pilgrim's Progress when we have time (because I feel like stopping in the middle of the journey and then picking it up next year might be a bit jarring, and the kids have actually been begging to read another section).

      Your plans sound lovely! Bows and arrows and building forts? My kids would be in heaven! :)

    2. I'll be doing something similar with St. Patrick's Summer - it just seems wrong to drop off in the middle of the book and then pick it up two months later. Have you read that one with your kids yet? I read it with my daughter when she was 2nd or 3rd grade and now I'm reading it with my son (well, my daughter is listening in too, because she remembers really liking the book the first time around).

      We listened to Pyle's Robin Hood at the beginning of the school year - it was definitely a big favorite around here!

    3. I have St. Patrick's Summer, but we have not read it yet--I actually had it on my list for next year (I was going to do three Marigold Hunt books as part of our religion studies), but I just cut it to save for the following year, when my next-oldest daughter will be able to enjoy it as well. I'm glad to hear you guys enjoyed it! We'll be doing Hunt's A Book of Angels next year, I think.

    4. Thanks for mentioning The Book of Angels, somehow I've missed that one in looking at Hunt's books. I find that decision about what to do and what to postpone for another year rather agonizing at times. But it is also exciting to be at the point where I do get to a book that I've been looking forward to reading, as well as reading something again with a younger child. I'll be starting 50 Famous Stories for the third time this Fall! I liked them even better the second time around, so I'm wondering what I'll think this time.

  2. I always thought it was much easier to keep some sort of routine going even if we were having a break from our regular work so we sort of school all year round with breaks at the same time as dh, special holidays, visitors etc. At Christmas we always take a 4 week break which is our summer break here. Hope you are well, Celeste. Looking forward to hearing when the baby arrives!

    1. Thank you, Carol! And yes, I feel like keeping up a small school routine during summer allows us a lot more freedom during the school year without feeling "behind." :)

  3. You have a wonderful summer planned!

    Travel, rest, maybe some Spanish, and lots of mother culture and notebooking for me!

  4. My 16yo will have a traditional summer break but will have a couple of books she'll be reading over the summer. She also plans to work on math this her choice. Our 6yo needs the structure of the basic routine throughout the summer. So for her, we plan to continue with our basic school routine along with plenty of time to play outside. :)

    1. Wishing you and your daughters a lovely summer! Sounds like you have a really nice combination of school and free time planned. :)