Originally, I thought that I would only school during the traditional calendar, but I quickly figured out that as much as I had been trained to think that learning stopped during the warm months, my children had not. They fully expect a full battery of read-alouds and whatnot to sink their teeth into ... whatever the weather.
A few years back, I stumbled upon a great way to keep school going all year long without burnout on any one's behalf. I had always been fascinated by the idea of unit studies, but had never felt really compelled to piece one together. We adore the literature approach to homeschooling (go, SL!) and I have no desire to mix things up in that department. But still, the idea of one central theme being carried through a whole unit of study fascinated me: following something to its logical conclusion, or tracing the ways that things develop and overlap just makes sense to me. Why not try a unit study in an off-time? I thought. How about during the summer?
And with that, our summer schooling plan was born. We have done some wonderful units over the years. Our favorite was two summers ago, when we delved head-first into tall ships. Jo, Atticus and Logan were ga-ga over pirates and sailing at the time, so it was a nice, natural choice for a topic. Turned out to be probably one of the most educational periods of our family's life. In addition to a wonderful weekend spent at a nearby Tall Ships Festival , we read Swallows and Amazons, (highly recommended) as well as Stowaway. We also carved wood to make our own little boats, charted ocean currents, investigated nautical terminology and learned to tie some really nifty knots. Not bad for a summer off, eh?
This year, I've kept my finger on the pulse of interests and finally narrowed it down to two possibilities for our full summer study: astronomy (Atticus' current passion) or art (Logan's constant near-obsession). After deciding to give Apologia's Exploring Creation With Astronomy a try for next fall's science curriculum, I figured art was the best route.
Plans so far are still in the development stages, but I've been incorporating a few activities as we've been winding down our SL schedule. Today we started the morning with The Renaissance Art Game and a half an hour looking up images of The Last Supper (in its current state of decomposition) online. The kids picked up on the theme with a vengeance and have been playing "Renaissance Artist School" all afternoon.
I'm wondering where this next summer schooling adventure will take us. There are countless field trips we can take in this area, and more books and activities than I can probably even begin to list. It's like the summer of my own childhood, actually: it's all spread out before us, and the possibilities seem endless.