Our Homeschool Summer Break – Year 3

Last week I promised you a summer on the other side of the continuum, so here it is! The summer of our mega home renovation! When all bets were off, plans were non-existent and I was living way, way outside my Type-A, Planner-Person comfort zone.

You can see more about the renovation, including before and after pictures, in this post.

I didn’t try to plan a more relaxed summer. I didn’t decide that we needed less formal school-ish work. By the time I had my head far enough above water to think about our summer homeschool plans, it was already August. 

So, basically, this summer just happened

Thankfully, opportunities did present themselves but I didn’t really plan any of it ahead of time and none of it was school-y (UNschool-y maybe, but definitely not formal school-y).

Here’s what we ended up doing:

  • Pool Pass – When I was caught between a rock (the renovation) and a hard place (only one car, which my husband took to work), the pool down the street became our escape. It was my home away from home and we’ve been getting a summer pass ever since! Like I mentioned in this post, passes are only a good idea if you get your money’s worth – so do the math first. I’m pretty sure we paid for our pass many times over during that summer!
  • YMCA Adventure Guides – My oldest son and my husband joined YMCA’s father-son program, Adventure Guides. The group had a bunch of activities planned all summer and thankfully they let younger siblings join in the fun, too! My boys’ favorite activities were the Rocket Launch and the Boat Regatta in the YMCA pool. So much fun!! The cost of activities added up, so unfortunately it’s not something we’ve continued with. But it was a great chance to try some new experiences and give the boys and their dad some good guy bonding time.
Boys racing DIY cardboard and duct tape boats in indoor YMCA pool
Not bad for using just cardboard and duct tape!
boys far away in field with text "We finally found our rocket!!"
Unbelievably, they found it every time!
  • Vacation Bible School (VBS)– This was the summer we started our VBS tradition. Thankfully, several friends and their cousins went to the same one, so my two oldest jumped right in and had a blast. (FYI, VBS week has become one of my main homeschool planning weeks for the next school year. You’d be amazed how much you can get done in 2.5 hrs. when you know this might be the only free time you have all year). 
  • LEGO class – Our library hosted a LEGO free-build class with Duplos for the littles and regular LEGOs for the older kids. This was perfect for us since my one year old was no longer content to sit on the sidelines. And it was also great for our non-committal summer since it was a drop-in, no-registration-needed, kind of class (I LOVE those).
  • Local Beaches, Parks, Nature Centers and Arboretums – With zero academic work to consider, and a lot of contractor noise to avoid, we had more time and incentive to do day trips and outings to all our favorite summer hangouts. I only had to plan ahead enough to bring my husband to work so we could have the car for the day.
  • Vacation – One of the highlights of the summer was the trip we took with my parents and sister’s family to St. Louis to see the Arch and also the full solar eclipse happening in the area at that time. If you ever have a chance to see a full eclipse, I’d highly recommend it! It was an amazing learning experience for us all, especially thanks to my parents who prepared a mini-unit study for us and taught us all kinds of cool, eclipse-related info when we were there. Thanks mom and dad!
Photo of full Solar Eclipse 2017
2017 Solar Eclipse (Used with permission: Triune Clinical Center)

Lessons Learned

At the time, I was too overwhelmed with renovation chaos to think about any lessons learned that summer. But now that I have a little distance from the insanity, I can see things that worked and didn’t. 

My kids and I crave (and usually have) routine and some structure – so having virtually none for the summer was new for us. It helped to have a few scheduled activities (Adventure Guides, LEGO class, VBS & vacation) to create a framework for us to work around instead of just having week after week of totally free time. The weeks we had absolutely nothing planned devolved quickly into laziness and arguments and my first gray hair.

On the other hand, the freedom to follow the kids’ interests and not always rush off to “the next thing” was refreshing. They learned so much when they had time to sit and contemplate and experiment to their heart’s content. And I didn’t notice any “summer back-slide” despite the lack of worksheets.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the time to think through these lessons learned before planning the next year’s summer break. Check out this post to see which way the pendulum swings in Year 4! (Hint: Pendulums typically swing back and forth…)

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