Summer is the big time of year when prospective homeschoolers come out of the woodwork, wanting to know more. Maybe it’s because you had a rough year in the school system. Maybe your child will be beginning school in the fall and you just have a feeling you shouldn’t send them. Or maybe it’s just because it’s summer and you have some extra free time to really get some research done. Whatever your reason for starting now, summer is a perfect time to test the homeschooling waters! Here are some of my favorite summer resources for homeschooling.
When I asked my Little Man, “what’s your favorite thing about homeschooling in the summer?” he answered, “camp!” Day camps are an excellent educational resource for all kids, and they are available in all shapes and sizes. Our choices this year include a video game design camp with Engineering For Kids, a children’s acting workshop with Footlite Musicals, and a young farmer’s camp at Distelrath Farms. You can also find camps available through most of the local museums on a variety of subjects.
The only problem I’ve found with day camps is that they are pricey, averaging between $150-$200 per week. We currently have a rule that each child can pick one camp to attend, and that takes a lot of planning and budgeting on my part. This year we were able to add on the farm camp for both boys thanks to some help from family. It’s a worthy cause if you can swing it financially, which is easier if you have time to set aside money for it throughout the year. If that’s not possible, don’t be afraid to ask your camp of choice if they offer any need-based scholarships. Your local YMCA or parks department may offer day camps at a price that will better fit your budget. These are great camps with experienced counselors. If that doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to put this idea on the back burner. My kids didn’t begin camps until last year, at the ages of seven and nine. Somehow they survived their first few years of homeschooling without attending any expensive summer enrichment programs.
Library Summer Reading Programs
My very favorite summer resource are the Indianapolis Public Library’s summer reading programs. Each week they offer daytime classes for school age children at most of their branches. These (FREE) programs include visual art, drama, music, science, environmental issues, and more! I was very sad to see all the programs we’ll be missing, as our June is already so full. I’m hopeful there will still be some good options in July! Most of what IMCPL offers are one time classes, but look at Greenwood and Hamilton East (Noblesville and Fishers) for once a week meetups on a certain topic. These will give you a good idea of what those libraries also have available throughout the school year for homeschoolers. Typically you will see the same families each week and have the chance to form friendships, and the kids get a weekly routine— for free— that you will all enjoy.
If you’re on Facebook, take a minute to search “homeschool” and your area. There are honestly too many homeschooling Facebook groups for me to keep track of, so I won’t even try to list them here. Tons of groups set up weekly park days, field trips, and fun, and if they’re on Facebook, they love new friends! Find a few different groups, attend a few park days, and find the right fit for you. This is a great way to try out some groups without the commitment that comes with joining a co-op for classes in the fall. (And, of course, you’ll get some great connections and suggestions for which co-ops in the area are best if you DO want to join one in the fall.)
Want to do some light reading on the subject? Here are my favorite “getting started” homeschooling books.
And check out my favorite homeschooling memoirs here.