Summer Learning …That Doesn’t Require a Textbook

When my children were younger, I chose to continue our homeschooling through the summer. It’s often too hot in our area to go outside and play during the middle of the day, and without some structure and focus the kids cried “Bored!” and wanted to sit in front of a screen all day. When we kept a loose schedule and had some planned summer learning activities, all of us seemed to enjoy our days a little more.

I did like to veer away from traditional “doing school” in the summer, however. The kids- and often I as well- needed a break from a regular curriculum with textbooks and tests and assignments. Instead I liked to incorporate activities that could provide learning opportunities without using a structured curriculum.

Some homeschooling families don’t like to continue “doing school” through the summer. They follow a more traditional schedule with a full summer break. But even those kids can keep learning going on all summer. If you want to keep your kids learning all summer, but you- and they- need a break from your traditional curricula, here are some educational activities that don’t require schoolbooks.

Summer learning without a textbook

Read Real Books

Most libraries have summer reading programs that encourage kids to read in the summer. But, whether the kids are motivated through the library, another reading program, or your own encouragement, get kids reading good books through the summer.

Honey for a Child’s Heart is an excellent resource for finding good quality books for kids 0-12 years old, and Honey for a Teen’s Heart suggests books for the older crew. Historical fiction books are great for helping kids get a great picture of a specific time period. Even nonfiction books can be a big hit when kids find a topic that interests them.

Get Kids Cooking

Although most of my children love to help out in the kitchen and have had opportunities to experiment with cooking and baking,  I’m sure I don’t let them do it as often as I should.

When we’re in regular schooling mode, I often don’t have time or make time to let them cook. We’re busy with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, and it’s just easier for me to do the cooking and hurry on to the next thing. But cooking can be very educational. Reading a recipe, problem solving, experimenting with how different ingredients work, learning about nutrition and the foods our bodies need are all great skills that kids can learn by cooking.

Inspire Money-Making Projects

Another great thing we’ve done in the summer to help kids keep learning is to encourage them in money-making endeavors. They could plan and carry out these projects any time during the year, but, as with cooking, it seems we’re often too busy to make time for this during our regular school year.

But being an entrepreneur can teach valuable lessons- both academic lessons and life lessons. And I’ve found it easier to find time to encourage some of these money-making ideas when we have free time in the summer.

A basic lemonade stand is often what we think of when it comes to kids making money, but there are many other projects that kids can undertake that will teach them life skills and maybe help them make some spending money as well. They can make jewelry, make baked goods that family and friends can order, or care for people’s pets while people are on vacation. Older kids can do yard work or wash cars or babysit. Having the opportunity to make money with an endeavor like this can teach problem solving, math skills, money management, and more.

Find Volunteer Experiences

For the several years my son volunteered with our church’s recreation outreach camps. Although it’s a volunteer position, and he didn’t get paid, he learned so many valuable lessons and skills by being a part of this. It’s also gave him a good work ethic, and it kept him busy instead of allowing him to aimlessly sit in front of a screen all day.

Although this volunteer experience is for teens, younger children can volunteer with your help. Visit a nursing home and read to patients. Offer to sort clothing for a shelter or thrift shop. Volunteer to visit a children’s home and play with children for an afternoon. Volunteering helps kids to learn skills related to the area they’re volunteering in, but it also teaches moral lessons such as helping others and being grateful for what they have.

Learning doesn’t always happen when you’re using textbooks, worksheets, and tests. Learning happens as we live out our day to day lives when we try new experiences and make day to day decisions. Summer time is a great time to give kids these nontraditional opportunities to learn new things.


Leah (37 Posts)

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.

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