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Should You Have Summer Learning Benchmarks?

summer learning

Whether it’s homeschooling year round or keeping up with learning concepts throughout the summer, the idea of summer learning is not a new one. Many homeschoolers fully believe that it is important to keep children’s brains active, even during a long summer break.

How to implement summer learning, though, is another thing entirely!

For those who homeschool year round, the question of how to keep the brain active through the summer is an easy one to answer. But for those who keep a more traditional school year, it all becomes a little more complicated.

What should be included in summer learning?
How much learning is enough?
How important is it to plan ahead or keep track of summer academic activities?

Keeping Summer Learning Simple

Often the generic idea of implementing summer learning can cause one of two extremes to result. Either you end up not really ever getting around to doing anything because you don’t have a plan or you end up doing as much in the summer as you do during the school year. It might have been better to just go ahead and do year-round school instead!

The best way to conquer both of these extremes is to set goals and build a plan, just like you would during the school year.

The key, though, is to keep it simple.

Summer learning doesn’t have to be about all of the bells and whistles. Believe it or not, it doesn’t even have to be about very specific learning objectives or subjects. Obviously, if there are areas where your student is struggling, the summer is a great time to strengthen those areas.

But the number one goal is to keep the brain active, and that can be accomplished through very simple activities.

Using Benchmarks for Simple Summer Learning Planning

The thought of simplicity brings us back to the question of planning, though. If the key is to keep summer learning simple, how much of a plan is really needed? And how can the plan be kept simple?

The answer is benchmarks!

The beauty of benchmarks is that they not only make it easy to break down the large and seemingly unwieldy structure of an entire school year, but they can also help us stay on top of small and simple tasks.

When it comes to summer learning, consider this: various studies have indicated that something as simple as continuing readers and/or read-alouds through the summer can make a significant difference in the ability to avoid brain slump and progress smoothly into a new school year.

So, with this in mind, your summer learning benchmarks could be as simple as outlining a handful of books to be read through the summer. Figure out how many chapters are in each book, determine how much you want your child to read each day, and set up weekly benchmarks to keep everyone on track.

Did you notice the concept of weekly benchmarks? During the school year, every six weeks is a good stretch for benchmarks. But during the summer, the goals are smaller, the overall time frame is shorter, and the check-ins are simpler. So, setting weekly benchmarks usually works better.

Other Ideas for Summer Learning

Summer learning doesn’t have to be limited to reading books. You might also work through a unit study or two, have a goal of enjoying a certain number of field trips, or even decide to pick up a new hobby or skill together.

Any of these things keep the brain active and the learning juices flowing. But, they also all need a plan. Otherwise, the summer flies by and you don’t get around to whatever summer learning activities. So, whatever the choice, set those weekly benchmarks, plan a check-in day to make sure you’re staying on track, and get ready to enjoy some summer learning fun!

In addition to working as managing editor for HEDUA, Ann is a missionary kid, second generation homeschooler, pastor's wife, and mom of three. She loves encouraging and equipping others, especially women in the homeschooling and ministry communities.

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