Summer activities and homeschool just go together. Kinda like peas in a pod, you know? I won’t say that I practice unschooling, but some times I find myself in that place. Let’s face it, when you have a special needs child whose idea of a schedule means his obsessions, well, planned unschooling becomes the norm.
What do I mean by unschooling?
Unschooling starts from the premise that education comes from the child’s lead. However, if you have more than one child, or if you want your children to lead a life of service, this really doesn’t work very well.
So, summer activities go hand in hand with unschooling, without formal schooling. Only, I like to provide a group of activities that lead to exploration. This way, the kids lead the learning, but in a framework you provide. For example, we wouldn’t want to give them gaming devices and tell them to learn everything they can, right? If the game is educational, it may teach them things, but it isn’t exactly discovery learning.
My oldest son, who is not special needs, spent many hours discovering the Civil War, for example. He read countless books, dressed up and even dug a war trench in the backyard (that was a story!). Then, he moved to crocodiles and Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter. He read every detail on crocodiles, then alligators, and finally snakes. He became a walking encyclopedia on reptiles. I still taught him the basic skills, but he learned quite a lot from his natural inclination to discover. This is unschooling at its finest.
It doesn’t have to be formal, but unschooling just allows our children to focus on the excitement to learn something new!
Finding summer activities
Some days we just have to sit by the pool, watch a movie or read a book. But, why not focus our kids’ interest? Choose a theme that interests everyone, such as the ocean, forest animals, outer space, or even the stars. Take what interests your kids and run with it. Create an art project, take a field trip to the local museum (choose their free times to stay in budget), or even make your own backyard beach party.
Summer is the time when we have a bit more space in our schedule and the normal pressures of the traditional school year is not pressing in on us. So, why not use it as a fun way to learn, but without all the stress of grades and papers. Take a sack lunch and go at the “free” times (Many museums have a free to the public time, call for more details)
Here are a few summer activities to get you going:
- Take a day trip to a nearby state or national park, have fun and learn about the geographic land or history.
- Go for a swim in a nearby natural water hole and learn about the geological landscape.
- Choose a nearby museum and discover what there is to learn.
- Drive to a nearby Kid’s Museum and play.
- Take a trip to the library and check out books and free movies on a topic of interest.
- Walk in a nature park nearby in the cool part of the day.
- Visit a nearby historical park or landmark (usually free or partly free).
- Make your own ice cream and have some friends or family over.
- Drive to a nearby lighthouse and its museum, then take a trip to the beach for a picnic.
- Make a trip to a local observatory and star gaze indoors, or sit out on blankets at night and star gaze.
- Camp out in your own backyard, set up a small grill and cook out. Then make your own s’mores.