Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Our Summer "School"

An Arizona monsoon sky (We often see this in the evenings in late July.)

 We are year-round homeschoolers. All that means is we simply don't follow the typical school year timing.

Because we live in the hot part of Arizona, it makes no sense for us to take the summer months off. It's simply too hot to play or do anything else outside! (Except swim.) There are usually at least 100 days of 100+ degrees every summer. We begin staying indoors from mid-May until Halloween, at the earliest.

One of the principles of Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) is to try to be more in tune with the seasons. The DeMilles talk about what our ancestors would do in the Winter: they read, discussed, and studied around the fire, cared for their animals, and snuggled in to wait out the weather until planting began again in the spring.

We took this principle and turned it on its head to fit our family's circumstances. We consider summer our "winter"-- the time when we need to hunker down and avoid going outside too much. So we also take time to read, discuss, and study in the hot summer months. It works out great for us, because then I can also feel free to let the kids play and explore outside in the later fall, winter, and spring-- which is also when science is more emphasized.

We also participate in supplemental homeschool classes in the Fall and Winter semesters, as well as high school seminary, and that means our schedule is now free from outside commitments. Our ward choir even takes the summer months off! (I am the director.) We get to do homeschool in the summer, free and unrestrained!

I have spent a few days thinking and planning about what what we want to focus on this summer. Below is what I hope to do with each of the age groups in my family. (Though all the kids have some math to catch up on.)

Little girls cooling off in the water
Core Phase Kids (Under 8 years old):  
Keywords are home, love, play, truth, fun, and work.
  • ABC's and 1,2,3's-- My older little girls need more practice writing their names and other letters. They are showing a real interest right now, so I want to strike while they are asking.We'll also play some phonics and reading games.
  • Months, days of the week, seasons-- Even my 8 year old needs some review in this area. I want to make this fun and really hands-on. We'll be doing lots of singing, games, and artwork with this subject.
  • Scripture Stories-- My little ones LOVE the "Scripture Scouts" CD's, and so do I! We need to get the "Old Testament" CD, since we got the "Book of Mormon" and the "New Testament" CD's for Christmas. The kids also really like watching the videos and playing the games on We may need some more scripture story picture books from the online LDS Distribution Center-- ours are really worn out from all the many years of use by our older kids!
  • Housework-- The younger kids need to learn how to do some of the harder jobs around the house. I will be their mentor and coach. The little girls can do more, and I need to train them how. This summer will be the perfect time!
Making a nest out of grass clippings at the park
Love of Learning Kids (8 years to about 13-14 years old):
 Keywords are exploring, adventure, curiosity, reading, learning, and fun!
  • Resources-- The Love of Learning phase has been a bit neglected in my home for a year or two. Balancing all the different ages and phases is not an easy thing, especially when the big kids keep us so busy! I just got a GREAT book I am looking forward to learning from and using. It's called "For the Love of Learning" and it was written by a fellow TJEd mom named Amy Edwards, who has done some great things with her Love of Learning kids. I am loving everything I've been reading so far!
  • Unit Studies-- I want to focus on U.S. history this summer with my middle kids. I plan to get Janeen Brady's "Take Your Hat Off" music, and hopefully some other American folk song music. We have some great American History story books I can use, too.
  • Reading-- I'm making the middle kids a reading chart to encourage them to do more independent reading this summer. I also need to make some weekly trips to the library so the kids can pick some non-fiction books and movies to study.
  • Projects-- I plan on the kids making lots of messes with art and craft projects this summer. I love their creativity!
  • Swimming Lessons-- I need to find a cheap alternative to regular swimming lessons at the pool. I'm hoping to convince one of our family friends to teach a few of our kids at a neighborhood pool. It's what we've done in the past, and it was such a blessing! Community lessons for multiple kids is just way too expensive for us!

Bonny finishing up a report for her WWII class

Scholar Phase Youth (13 years old and up):
Keywords are Independent Study, reading, writing, intense, motivated, difficult, and time.

  • Math-- The kids have been working through their math gaps at Khan Academy. They do math for at least one hour every day. The big kids are especially motivated to improve in this area, and that makes me happy. The only trouble I've had with this amazing program is to keep one of my kids focusing on his math before he moves on to other fun stuff like chemistry and physics. :-)
  • Latin-- My husband got us the program "Visual Latin," but due to all the busyness our extra classes added, we never seemed to get to it. This summer will be the time! I have watched one video and really like the instructor's style. I'm excited to start this program!
  • Reading-- Morganne and Brennan will be tackling the unabridged Les Miserables this summer for their class in the Fall. Another book the kids are looking forward to reading this summer is the new "Michael Vey" book. But it doesn't come out until August. Everyone else will continue to be encouraged to devour the classics on our shelves. 
  • Audio Books-- I will also be adding some audio books to the mix this summer, as well. I love Librivox for this purpose! Classics for free are great, though I have to be careful to double-check the readings. One time, I downloaded all of War and Peace only to find that it was read by someone with the thick Indian accent I could not understand at all! And if you've read the classic, you know that there are phrases in both Russian and French throughout the novel. And the Indian accent just made them REALLY confusing! (And too funny!)
  • Driver's Education-- It's time for Morganne and Brennan to get enrolled in a class and take their drivers' tests. Morganne is still not anxious to drive, but Brennan has been for a long time. I've finally decided that it's time to push Morgie into being more independent. (She hates being pushed, but sometimes it's necessary!) 
  • College Classes-- Morganne is not planning to leave home in the next year, but she will start LDS Institute class in the Fall, and I'm also hoping to enroll her in BYU-I's new program called "Pathway." It's a great fit for her, since she wants to stay at home and ease into college gradually. I'm excited and she's sincerely willing to try it out. HOORAY. Progress is good.
  • Personal Projects-- Brennan is working on a new club for young men, and wants to have it all organized before the Fall. He also plans on FINISHING HIS EAGLE PROJECT. (ahem.) I have lots of sewing I want to get done. I think Lliam will continue to improve his art, and Bonny wants to continue her ballet lessons. I also plan to add more voice students, including Brennan and Morganne, if I can talk her into it.

Today I'm cleaning and resting as I go. I'm still not fully healed, but I'm feeling much better every day. This afternoon, a lady is dropping off her daughter's dance costume for me to alter before her recital this Saturday. I'm also working on some fun sewing projects for a friend who's helped me a lot. But they're a surprise! So shhhh...

Now that my summer is planned "spiritually" (Thank you, Misty!), I hope we will be able to accomplish more in the physical world. I'm excited by all the possibilities! 

Thank you, Tristan, for inspiring me to write this post. Accountability to my friends is a great motivator!!! :-D

Love, Rachel


  1. I love seeing your plans. We are year rounders too. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I am particularly intrigued with BYU-I's new program!

  3. We homeschool year round too - and then take breaks as we need it :) Thank you for sharing your ideas! I always learn something new from other homeschoolers! Have a blessed weekend ahead~

  4. Yay, I love reading plans for all your different ages! Several things popped out at me :

    - Did you know Scrpture Scouts has a CD set for The Family: A Proclamation to the World and a CD set for The Articles of Faith? My kids love them too.

    - I just ordered through my library the Janeen Brady "Take Your Hat Off" music last week and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival through interlibrary loan. :)

    - I love seeing the things I've taught my oldest (the only one over 8) coming around again for my younger ones, like months and days of the week. Even better is when my oldest catches the younger ones learning songs for those and she starts singing along!

    Have a wonderful end to the week!

  5. When we lived in Texas, we did the same thing--summer was for morning swims and afternoon studying--it was even too hot to swim at times. So, we enjoyed the air conditioning and light meals and really, really hunkering down on reading, writing, and math. This worked out well, because it gave us time in the Fall and Winter to participate in extracurricular type things, too.

    Thanks for posting!

  6. I don't know if you like dramatized histories or not, but on the Christian radio station around here they do these stories and I quite like the history ones. You can get them as cd's and mp3s too. The website is if you are interested.


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