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 for Summer 2017

Gentle Schooling for Summer- How we'll be incorporating homeschool into our summer days

Our summers are usually defined by family bike rides to the neighborhood ice cream shop. So, I guess it's safe to say that we've officially kicked off summer!

Gentle Schooling for Summer- How we'll be incorporating homeschool into our summer days

We've closed the grammar books, packed away the math CDs, and have already forgotten what the spelling tiles even look like. I'm not a we've-got-to-finish-these-workbooks-or-else kind of momma. Plodding through worksheets all the way through the summer in order to get to the last page of a curriculum is a sure-fire way to ruin your homeschool, in my opinion. So when it comes to finishing grammar books and math programs, I just don't. When the calendar announces June, I announce, "School's out!" And we pack away all the traditional curriculum.

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But, don't be fooled by the deserted school table. We may have abandoned the flashcards and the notebooks, but the learning is still happening. Our education has just taken on a gentler speed, that's all. Our days are un-rushed and defined by delight...bike rides and ice cream cones. 

This summer, I've declared war on busy. In fact, I've already decided this will be the summer of NO. I've made a list of the things that matters most and am determined to say NO to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g else. My kids all really want to spend a lot of open-ended time at the beach and I want to say YES to that. So other things will have to get a NO...like meetings, sports practice, and the like. I've planted my flag and am resolved to have a low capacity summer.

Here's what our simple-and-slow summer learning will be like.

Gentle Schooling for Summer 2017


Although our morning basket and morning board will be packed away for the next three months, we will still spend the first part of our day deep in God's Word. Our devotional readings for the summer will come from the following resources: 

Jamie-that's me!

  • Entrusted- Since I'm not doing this six-week study with a group, I'll not be following the rigorous day-to-day schedule that Beth Moore studies are known for. Instead, I'll complete a page or two until I get to a natural stopping point. I'll pick up where I left off the following day. (I actually started the study a month ago and am about halfway through with it already.)
  • prayer journaling using my favorite prayer book as a guide

The kids

Gentle Schooling for Summer- How we'll be incorporating homeschool into our summer days


I've made a commitment to carve out time each weekday for playing a board game with the kids. We'll rotate who gets to pick the game each afternoon which will give lots of variety to our learning. When I KonMarie'd the game closet a few weeks ago, I unknowingly rekindled our love for a few old favorites that had gotten buried by the newer, trendier ones.

I've got three large TO DOs looming on my personal plate for the summer, but no matter how busy my days might get in the next three months, I'm determined to make at least one game happen each day. So far so good. We launched our very first day of summer by cracking open a new one and played for a solid hour.

Summer Reading

Summer wouldn't be summer without the library reading program. We signed up last week and have already earned the first prizes of the season. To be honest, my kids would read without the dangled carrot, but since the carrot is being offered, they'll gladly take advantage of it. As always, they'll be reading both a mom-assigned book and a just-for-fun book. Three of my kids will have to read their mom-assigned book out loud to me each day and the other two will be on the honor system to get it done some time before lunch. Our summer bedtime reading hour has already kicked off and we're onto disc two of a new-to-us audio book that will be stashed away in the car for several day trips that we've got planned in the coming weeks. 

And who could forget about our afternoon read aloud? It is hands-down the most treasured time of our day no matter the season. Everyday around 1:30, my kids will be gathered around the living room, handwork in hand. With their post-lunchtime bellies, they'll hunker down for a few restful moments together building a family language around books. 

Handcraft Fair

I hesitate to even write this for fear that I might be biting off more than I can chew. I know I should probably not add another TO DO to my plate. But, I'd really like to organize a simple handcraft fair for area homeschoolers. I originally heard about the idea from one of my favorite podcasts and then grew increasingly inspired with all of the lovely photos they post about it on Instagram. (Ugh...that social media propaganda gets me every time!) 

In my crazy rationale, I've cooked up the following reasons why I should most definitely organize a handcraft fair: For starters, it will be a great way to practice the real life skills of handling money, conversing with others, managing time, planning and organizing. Not to mention, it will give the kids a chance to cultivate their own personal passions by creating something with their hands (a useable craft, some fresh baked treats, a homegrown veggie, etc.) and will introduce them to the basics of entrepreneurship. I've already sent out feelers in my local homeschool community and have received great feedback from many interested families. My kids have almost all picked out potential projects. And if all goes as planned, we'll end the summer with a homeschool handcraft fair at an area park. (For updates on our plans and projects or to talk me off the ledge, be sure to catch me on Instagram.)

Gentle schooling plans for the summer of 2017

Neighborhood Hosts

Two years ago, when the Hubs spent the summer building a 20 foot tall fort in our backyard using this book, he unwittingly made our house the neighborhood favorite. Word spread like wildfire and within days kids we had never even seen before began landing on our front door step, dressed in camo and Nerf guns, ready to go to war. For the most part, these are all latch key kids with broken homes -- kids whose home lives are less than desirable. Several have incarcerated parents and many are being raised by grandparents or distant relatives. 

When we began hearing the stories of these children, the Hubs and I determined that our home would be a safe harbor for them. We knew it was not by accident that God placed us in this neighborhood and we wanted our house to be life-giving to all who enter. So, we began welcoming these children to come and play after school nearly every single day for the past year. 

Some days our tiny little lot looks like a daycare. We have two simple rules that the kids must follow while they are here: be respectful of people and property and don't use foul language. As long as they abide by those, they can stay and play. The truth is, they are so desperate for any kind of stability that it is not unusual for kids to knock on the door at 8 in the morning on a Saturday and to want to stay until well past 8 or 9 on a weekday.

I knew that when summer arrived things had the potential to get a little dicey. While our children want to minister to these others, they (life everyone) need down time- white space in their day. They also want to cultivate sibling relationships and have time for their own passions. So, we made a host house rule for the summer: anytime we fly our American flag on the front stoop, we are ready for guests. The flag can be seen from several blocks away providing neighborhood kids a gentle invitation to head on over. If the flag is not flying, they know that they can't come to play. So far, this has really helped to set some summer boundaries to ensure that we have an appropriate amount of family time together while also providing large amounts of time to minister to kids in need.

County Fair

Our local county fair is always the swan song of our summer. It announces the end of our freer days and has us all looking ahead to school again. Each year, the kids enter a handful of homeschool projects that they've worked on throughout the previous school year. They come home with ribbons in their hand and money in their pockets. This year will find them all entering several selections from their art history notebooks, a few of their handcrafts, and an obscene amount of Lego creations, I'm sure. 

Individual Interests

Other than these few purposeful group activities, I'm leaving our summer empty in order to cultivate real boredom, the kind of boredom that causes kids to imagine, discover, and create. I can not invent their summertime happiness. That's not my job. It's theirs. Last I checked, this is not a cruise ship and I'm not an activities director. (Although I have a clip board and a pair of sensible shoes, so...)

This summer will afford my kids hours upon hours of vintage 1980s style fun...bike rides, impromptu neighborhood kickball games, and time to just sit on the front step and slurp down a popsicle when the weather makes it too unbearable to do anything else. 

They've already decided that when boredom strikes, they want to be doing the following...

Gentle Schooling for Summer- How we'll be incorporating homeschool into our summer days

Sweetie Pea

  • flipping furniture- This girl has a knack for flipping furniture. She got the pickin' bug from her dad and has worked alongside him to refurb, restore, and repurpose several pieces. A few weeks ago, she spread her wings and tackled her first solo project. She scoured estate sales, thrift shops, and yard sales and found two rock-bottom items with lots of character. She budgeted for supplies and planned a unique look for each one. She put a little bit of elbow grease to her first one and handed it over to The Hubs to list online. She plans to continue furniture flipping all during the summer. It will be a little side income for her. But most importantly, it will be real work using real skills.
  • volunteering for three weeks at an area Bible camp- If selected in the final rounds of potential applicants, she'll be spending a small chunk of the summer cleaning toilets, scrubbing pots and pans, and maintaining the grounds at a Christian camp in a neighboring town. It's highly unglamorous mission work, but she can't wait!
  • practicing the piano

Gentle schooling plans for summer

Super Boy

  • bushcrafting with his buddies- He and the Hubs plan on spending lots of quality time in the woods with other father-son teams learning to live off the land in their once-a-month bushcrafting group.
  • practicing his phonics skills with Nessie Reading Program- He'll log on every couple of days in his down time in order to keep his skills sharp through the summer.

Gentle schooling plans for summer

Blonde Warrior

  • creating Lego stop motion videos with the free StopMotion app
  • practicing the piano

Gentle Schooling for Summer- How we'll be incorporating homeschool into our summer days

Greased Lightning

  • fishing...fishing...and did I mention fishing?!
  • growing a tomato garden
  • collecting, observing, and drawing various spiders (No joke! I will be living in the tension between cultivating passions and having 3-7 jars of live spiders sitting on my kitchen counter top all.the.live.long.day.)

Gentle Schooling for Summer- How we'll be incorporating homeschool into our summer days

The Dude

  • making a paper mache beaver lodge (with my help)- After spending most of the winter reading through the Thornton Burgess collection of Paddy the Beaver with the Hubs, my son became completely fascinated by beavers. A few months ago, he received a set of toy beavers at his beaver-themed birthday party and would like to spend the first few weeks of summer building them a home. He was gifted some real beaver-gnawed wood chips that he plans to glue on the outside of his paper mache lodge. His quiet summer moments will be spent creating adventures for his very own Paddy. 

That's it. That's all we'll be doing in the next few months. I'm cultivating slow and hoping to make some meaningful, uncomplicated connections with my kids this summer. 


  1. I haven't even finished reading this entire post but the tree house, neighborhood kids and the flag brought tears to my eyes. This is just beautiful in every way imaginable. For the children who have a "safe haven", for your children who have the opportunity for this unique ministry opportunity and your wisdom in finding a balance for family time and time for ministering. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Before being a stay at home homeschool mom I was a 4th grade teacher to children just like the ones you are describing. I provided those kids an education but more importantly I provided them with a stable environment for at least 7 hours a day while they were in my class. They knew they were safe with me and had respect for me. I was always given the biggest behavior problem children because they would thrive in my classroom. Reading this post brought back all those memories of my ministry with those kids. You are loving those kids and your kids so well. Now to finish reading the rest of your post.... 😀

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your story, Elaine. I'm not sure what God will do with our relationship with these kids, only time will tell, but it's exciting to hear stories like yours and know that He can do great things.

  2. I love this post. We are going to build a treehouse this summer and was SO excited to see that you recommended a book of ideas how to build one! I just ordered it and can't wait for my kids to open it in the mail :) We are right on track with you this summer, I felt like you were writing everything we are planning to do this summer. Rest, play, have fun, and rest some more. Love your posts! Blessings to you.

    1. The book helped my husband feel confident in building the base of the fort. Then, he was able to add some unique features. It's been a great addition to our yard and gets lots of use.

  3. Amen, sister! Love your laid back summer plans...unplans...semi-plans. Thank you for being willing to let a huge dose of unknown into your world by welcoming kids into your family and heart. Your kids will grow up knowing, believing that it's just what the world needs...Christians who make themselves available to love and minister right where we are planted--and I love the balance you've woven in with the flag! So wonderful, Jamie! Thank you for sharing :D

    1. Thanks, friend. So far, the flag has really helped to provide balance.

  4. Love reading your posts. I grew up next door to a Christian, homeschooling family, who opened their home to me and my siblings. I have so many memories of playing together- specifically I remember the mom's kindness and warmth toward me. They had a great impact on my life, and undoubtedly prayed for me. They shared their faith in word and deed. I became a Christian my senior year of high school. I share to encourage you in your ministry!

    1. This is definitely an encouragement, Kathryn! Thank you so much for taking the time to write that. It will be fun to see how God uses a backyard fort!

  5. Such a lovely way to spend the summer! We do continue math through the summer, but other than that, I try to keep our days as clear as possible. I like the kids to have down time . . . enough to get bored and start inventing things to do. :)

  6. This is such a great post! I linked to it on my blog... http://roadstoeverywhere.com/summer-unschooling/