Do you hear that?
It’s the sound of crickets, fireworks, a car radio and kids splashing in a pool. Okay, so maybe you don’t really hear them just yet, but summer is so close, you can almost hear the sounds of the season, can’t you?
As someone who lives in a climate where winter starts early and lingers endlessly, I like to joke that summer is my favorite month. In truth, we usually get a good run of seasonal weather from late May to mid-August, but it always feels so fleeting, it’s hard not to want to get a head start on embracing every moment of warm weather and daylight the season has to offer.
Because we also homeschool year-round, summer does not mean we take a complete break from education, but rather that we venture away from the bookwork, lighten up our schedule, get outdoors and find creative ways to weave learning into our summer activities. This year, our oldest is wrapping up her first year of high school, and we’re contemplating some activities that can not only provide valuable life lessons, but also possibly check off a box on a transcript. Some of those ideas are:
- Water Sports
Naturally, this is a great time to tackle a new sport on the water. Activities like water-skiing, paddle-boarding, kayaking and surfing are just a few examples of water sports for which teens can learn the basics this season. Whether they take professional lessons or self-teach, the hours put in and progress made toward mastery can be logged as a P.E. credit or elective. What does it teach? Other than the skill that is involved for the sport of choice, these sports can also teach your high-schooler valuable life skills such as endurance, perseverance and the process of trial and error.
- Start a Business
Tis’ the season for outdoor flea markets and craft fairs. Perhaps your homeschooler can turn a hobby or skill into a business, selling handmade items at one of these venues. From financial budgeting (How much is the vendor fair’s rental space? How much do I need for supplies to make my items? How many will I need to sell to make a profit?) to time management (How long does it take me to make one piece? How much time do I need to make the amount I need to sell?), your teen will learn some of the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.
Camping is a great summer adventure that can be used as a life skills course. Have your teen campout for a week, a month, or the whole summer – even if it is in your own backyard. Teach her how to pitch a tent or build a shelter from natural elements. Have her master basic survival skills like how to keep safe from the elements, how to build a fire, how to cook over it, and how to collect and purify water. These skills are not only fun for teenagers to learn, but also a great resource to have should they ever find themselves in a situation that requires them.
- Foster a Dog
Don’t cringe, Moms and Dads, this one comes with the caveat that your teen must give up the dog when the time comes. And while fostering any pet can be a great way to teach about responsibility, fostering a dog, in particular, comes with particular challenges that you just don’t get from caring for a smaller animal such as a cat or bunny. What can your teen learn from fostering a dog? He will learn that there is a lot more to caring for a living being than just filling a bowl with food and water. Dogs need to be tended to, groomed, played with, comforted, walked – and if being housebroken, they need to be walked often (hence the reason this is a good summertime project). Foster families are sometimes asked to help train the dog to make it more adoptable, and training a dog can also be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. In addition, your child will need to learn how to prioritize, and put the dog’s schedule of needs ahead of his own. And, when it is time to give the dog up to an adopter, he will learn that sometimes we have to part with those we love, which can be a hard lesson, but one that might prepare him for future losses.
These are just a few ideas for homeschooling electives teenagers can pursue over the summer. I like them because they are set to instill valuable life skills. I suppose my teen will like them because they don’t actually feel like “schooling.” Either way, we’re still anxious for summer to get here, so we can dive into some of these activities.
And then each night, after a day of summer learning, we can kick back and listen to those crickets and fireworks.
A note from the author:
Did I mention I also write for The Old Schoolhouse® Homeschooling with Heart Blog? This post originally appeared here.