Unschooling for the Summer

Repost: This post was from last year. As my children become older, they have their own projects and their own interests. I try to facilitate their interests as much as possible. My high schooler has a job now, and is pursuing his interest in drones and videography. He rarely participates in our read aloud. My daughter is just as likely to share in a Dragonbox game on her Kindle or a documentary or movie than a read aloud now. Audio books are still popular. However, the stewing continues, the facilitation of interests continues, and the assistance with projects continues. It just all looks a little different. Unschooling happens to some level all throughout the year, but more heavily during summer, as our more formal lessons (and dual enrollment for my son) aren’t happening. Our schedule will is a little different this year. With some chronic immune illness I’ve experienced, we’ll be doing some formal lessons to catch up, but we will still be taking an intermittently longer break through the summer months. Moving into summer, I felt like this post was applicable again, so I”m publishing it this week. I hope you enjoy.

Originally Published April 23, 2021

We finished our year “early” ending in mid-April this year. That we can have the best of North Florida’s weather off, and we committed to starting mid-July. Late summer it heats up, and no one wants to be out in the heat anyway unless they are near water. Our homeschooling doesn’t really stop, however. It shifts like any other season. This shift is not as subtle as right before our winter break or our February blues (Who else is burnt out each year around November and February?) This is a more obvious shift and mostly in homeschooling style. We shift from a Waldorf/Charlotte Mason inspired schooling to an unschooling. Unschooling is a misnomer. Who named it that anyway? It is mostly child-led learning. What does that look like for us? Well, I’m glad you asked; I was hoping to share.

Anything that looks like a lesson gets chunked out the window. Whoosh! Did you hear that? It was lesson-style schooling flying away for the summer. Don’t worry too much: not only will she make her way back in July, but there will be plenty to take her place, starting with some strewing.  Stewing is leaving resources, games, and material out and about to catch children’s interest. I’ll start this in a couple of weeks when they will begin to say they are “bored.” I’ll pick out some games, maybe even purchase some new ones. I’ll lay them on our coffee table and our kitchen table to my husband’s annoyance. (Our favorite games Blog posts.) Our kitchen table becomes our main school table again. I’ll place our word magnets, art supplies, and other items on the table as well. I’ll even leave a few books on the table to see if it catches anyone’s interest.

In addition to strewing, I’ll also implement our family-wide Read Alouds. We do all kinds of reading aloud, but not so much as a whole family. This will be for everyone. It’s a little tricky with an age span so wide as mine – 6 years! But I am committed to do it. Have suggestions? I’d love to hear in them in the comments below. 

The last change that we make is a list of summer projects. I keep a list of projects that my children express interest in throughout the year and projects I dream of doing with them, but never get to.  I’ll bring those up at the dinner table to see which ones they are interested in doing. My list this year includes:

  • Making Wax Letter-sealing Stamps 
  • Screen Printing t-shirts
  • Tie Dye t-shirts
  • Making a Solar Oven (this is a carry-over from last summer)
  • Marshmallow and spaghetti construction
  • Making another wave machine (It was so cool!)
  • Weaving Projects
  • Field trips

There are also other projects that inevitably pop up that my children want me to help them with, so more will be added. It’s also highly likely we won’t finish this list. We’ll also fit in plenty of the usual summer activities – swimming, beach combing, biking, hiking. So I’m curious. What do your summer months look like?

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Rose says:

    This looks so much like our home education. I love it! We will focus on Italian lessons and one will still be working on math but I am a big fan of stewing. My favorite read aloud for all ages is Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. It is the perfect book, funny and touching. Enjoy your summer!

    1. Thank you for the book suggestion. I’m going to look into that! Enjoy your summer as well. ♥️

  2. Lia says:

    This is great, thank you for sharing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you discuss with your children and transition them between unschooling summers and formal lessons at other times. How do you articulate the calling for lessons vs unschooling year round? I’d love to hear your guidance on this 🙂. Also, have you read The Phantom Tollbooth? Could be great for your family read aloud!

    1. We game not read that one. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

      Are you looking for when we transition back into our regular lessons? Or my wording for the transitions?

      1. Lia Woo says:

        Hmm, I think your wording surrounding the transitions. I’m struggling to find how to articulate the desire for some formal lessons while not sending the message that their chosen work/play is any less important. We’re very child-led here and I’m trying to figure out a rhythm for including skill work that doesn’t always become incorporated in their own investigations. Since we do live and learn year round it’s hard to wrap my head around unschoolling in summer and more “organized”? work at other times….so wording on how you talk to your children about these different times of the year…I truly am inspired by you and appreciate any insight you have to share. Thanks!

        1. This has been our schedule for several years now, so I’m trying to think back. We added structured schooling very slowly with my first. We had a routine of sitting down for books each day, which he loved, and I just added first language lessons to that. The second year, I added history to that. Slowly we added in more structured activities. My youngest was a different story. There are six years between them, so she wanted to “school” when big brother did. I gave her different activities, but no formal academics were done again until she was in around first grade. All that to say we’ve had many years in the making.

          They also don’t realize they are “unschooling.” I’ve never labeled it that or told them they have to learn something in the summer. It just kind of happens. They don’t consider summer or breaks school. When we talk about it now, it’s more of a discussion of when we are going to end and when we are starting back up. “How to do you feel about ending in April and starting back up in July?” They say what they think. My son (16) loves his breaks. My daughter often wants to do “school” even when we are off. I try to accommodate both of them. I think that a family could educate their children with only a unschool style all year round.

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