I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

"Gentle Schooling" Summer Plans 2013

While we are not un-schoolers throughout the majority of the school year, we ARE eclectic homeschoolers who find value in parts and pieces of ALL homeschooling methods...including un-schooling. I am by nature a "stick to the plan" kind o' girl. But, come summertime, my plan morphs into an UN-plan. 

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Our workbooks and lesson plans get tucked away, but there is still much learning taking place. It just comes a bit more organically. While I don't want to revisit the intense schedule and concentrated studies that the school year brings, I also don't want all our hard work over the last nine months to evaporate by the summer sun. So, I choose to institute "gentle schooling" during these warmer months.

Here's what our "gentle school" looks like for 2013...

Quiet Time

Our Good Morning Board has been packed away for the summer, but our routines have remained the same, especially our morning devotions. I don't require a time frame for our routines, however. They just all have to be completed some time that morning. In other words, we don't jumpstart quite as quickly from June to September.

Pleasure Reading

In addition to enjoying one of our 2013 read-alouds and handwork (sometimes) together each afternoon, the older two boys each have to read out loud to me for at least 15 minutes. These minutes are recorded on their library summer reading program chart. I don't require my daughter to read out loud to me anymore as she is a proficient reader and is rarely NOT reading a book for pleasure.

Also, during the longer days of summer, we extend "bed time" by at least an hour for pleasure reading with the following stipulations.
  1. You have to BE in bed at the normal bedtime. 
  2. You may stay up late to read books for one hour. 
  3. If you get out of bed for something other than an emergency, you automatically forfeit your extra-late bedtime. 
  4. If you are not old enough to read, you may look at pictures books in bed.
This has always been a win-win situation for everyone. My kids get to stay up later...which they love, especially in the summer when it is not actually dark at their normal bedtime. AND, they WILLINGLY read great books ALL SUMMER LONG.

Skill Building

I had just ordered Secret Keeper Girl Kit 2: The Gift of True Friendship to use for our Summertime God's Girl Club when Sweetie Pea asked if I would help her make a quilt for her new baby cousin. Of course I am always happy to help her sew, BUT, I knew that making an entire patchwork quilt would be a summer-long endeavor. After talking it over together, she and I decided to put the girl's club on hold for the summer and focus our efforts on some great one-on-one sewing time.

My daughter isn't the only one who will build some skills this summer, however. I have always used summer as a time to teach new chores to my children so that they can start the school year out prepared to do those tasks independently. (I haven't quite decided what those new chores will be yet, but I'm sure one glance around my house will provide plenty of inspiration!) Additionally, my two older children will continue to hone their culinary abilities.

Summer Science Project

For the past five years, my children have enjoyed doing a summer-long science project. It has been a great way to learn about the creation that only grows during the GREEN parts of the year. Our projects have always been biologically-themed and are pretty specific to one type of nature specimen. This summer, we are studying flowers which has mainly consisted of...
  1. Picking wildflowers as we find them. 
  2. Identifying their unique parts with the help of a wildflower field guide. 
  3. Sketching them in our nature journals. 
  4. Pressing them in our botany press purchased at the used curriculum sale of our state homeschool convention. 
  5. Attending the gardening-themed summer events at our local library that coincide with the "Dig Into Reading" collaborative summer reading program. 
  6. Planting flowers around our property with The Hubs. (This is actually an annual tradition he shares with my daughter. But since we are all focusing on flowers throughout the summer, they both invited the boys to join them for the planting/potting.)

Other "Gentle Schooling" Activities

With a lighter schedule, we are able to sneak lots of games into our day, both traditional board games and on-line review games.

Also, our short afternoon quiet times give each of the kids plenty of opportunity for individual exploratory learning. While my daughter is not working on any independent projects throughout the summer, the discovery basket items have offered her several suggestions to consider for next year.

And of course, the children get LOTS of time to enjoy the out-of-doors. Because my kids spend their winter "P.E." time completing Denise Austin's Fit Kids and Leslie Sansone's Walk the Walk videos, I make it a priority to put all the five-and-older kids in some sort of team sport during the summer. It's a nice chance to not only get some exercise, but also an opportunity to learn a sport that would otherwise be difficult for a homeschooling family to learn.

As I mentioned in our Summer Bucket List, the children have helped me plant a Back-to-Eden garden and will continue to help me kill...I mean grow...several tasty greens. (I've come to the conclusion that I am a green-thumbed girl trapped in a black-thumbed body!)

So, that's just a peak into our summer "gentle school."

How do you keep the learning going throughout the summer months?


  1. I love your blog!!! As a new homeschool mom, I find it full of encouragement and information. I wake every mor ing excited to read that days posting! Thank you for helping me in starting this new journey:)

    1. So sweet of you to take the time to write that. I'm so glad you enjoy it!

  2. I second that. I've just discovered your blog and am so appreciating your thoughts and ideas. I've casually homeschooled my 5-year-old twins for Kindergarten this year, and will be embarking on gr. 1 in Sept. So far, the journey is fabulous! Thank-you for sharing your knowledge!

    1. Twins?! How fun and busy your days must be. Glad you're here.

  3. I enjoy your blog, love the posts with practical ideas. Wondering, if/how you handle the gravitational pull of electronics/ TVs during this summer downtime? Everyone in my house seems to be bored unless it is plug-in time....(sigh) not that I did not buy craft materials, a new to us circuit machine, science fun, and try to make a bucket list. Its like there is a real gravitational pull on the DSi or TV that sucks my kids in and everything else is boring. We've started a summer book, we have reading lessons (30 mins. max) each day and the same questions arise each day, how much longer till, when can we turn on the ----, after this can I play my DS???? I am just being honest, I feel like I am defeated before I begin.

    1. Oh, Adrienne, it sounds like this has been a point of frustration for you. I'm so sorry. While we don't have any game systems...except an old nintendo from when my husband was a little boy and only gets pulled out on rainy days...we obviously have a computer and a TV.

      My first suggestion would just be to establish clear times that those may be in use. For us, the kids are allowed to watch 2 PBS shows in the morning and 1 in the afternoon while I make dinner. Since they know those are the ONLY times the TV gets to be on, no one ever even asks to watch a show. It's very understood. Regarding things that don't have set time frames like the duration of a TV show, maybe you could make up 15 or 30 min. tickets and give them out each morning. The kids could redeem them when they'd like, but then when they've spent their ticket...that's it. I think by establishing when they CAN play the DS...or whatever...it makes it very clear when they CAN'T and so they don't even need to ask and you don't ever have to say "no." They'd be forced to find something else to occupy their time knowing that electronics aren't even an option again until tomorrow.

      That being said, I will admit...and I hope this does not at all sound arrogant or prideful because that is NOT AT ALL how I intend for it to sound...that my kids have never really had an affinity towards electronics. Up until the last two years, we've only just had a TV and basic dial-up internet, so they didn't know there were other options. I say all that to say, my advice is not necessarily very "expert" on this subject.

      If you'd like, I'd be happy to post this question to my Facebook readers and I'm sure you'd get much better ideas than I've been able to give you. (If you are on Facebook, that is.)

    2. I would like to hear how other families tackle this. One point to be fair, my kids age range is different than yours. 15, 8, and 5 with one already flown the nest. So we too did not have the electronics when my eldest kids were young, but as they grew...so did the items and our younger kids well, you get the idea. What is age appropriate for a 15 year old and a 5 year old are worlds apart. LOL. So now its more complicated. I am seeking balance, can't turn back the clock, nor would I to go electronic free, as my kids have learned a lot on leapsters, DSi and Wii machines. However, there is more to life than just plugging in... I like your ideas of a ticket or time on coupon etc. I do some of that now with our reading log, and caught yah being good cards for my younger kids. Teenagers you have to be more covert...you'll see. I just randomly leave things in their path that they like, film, candy, a drive thru item they crave, or batteries...and they find the "gifts" without all that embarrassing recognition stuff. I will go back and look again at our day to day and try to adjust, after all its only June. Thanks for allowing me to grumble, as a child of the 70's I remember pre-microwave, rotary dial phones, 3 channels on TV maybe 12 if your Dad put a large antennae on your roof, no remote control and saying to an adult you were bored meant instant chores....LOL. So, it is easy to get down, when my kids are not overly excited about old fashioned fun, but I will carry on anyway.

    3. I agree. The age factor plays quite a roll. It sounds like you are doing a great job appealing to both ages. I'd be happy to schedule this in on FB. I have a few Reader Questions scheduled for the next few days, so I will probably be able to post it sometime Tues. or Wed.