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Homeschooling while everyone else is on vacation

Nature walk at the county forest preserve
Nature walk at the county forest preserve
Patti Hermes

It happens every year. As soon as all the local public schools let out for the summer, and the neighborhood is filled with the noise of summer vacation, homeschoolers want to be outside with their friends, too. But you still have some curriculum you wanted to finish up, or maybe you took a break when winter got to be too much and headed south for some fun in the sun, or maybe you just prefer a year round schedule. Whatever your reasons, keeping the kids interested when their friends are all enjoying summer vacation can be a challenge.

Incorporating some of the more interesting summer Park District classes into your schooling is one option. No reason your kids can't get credit just because they're having fun with their vacationing friends. Swimming classes are very important, and count for PE. But there are more variety of classes that may be closer to "edutainment" than just plain old fun. But there is also much learning to be gained from pure fun, as well.

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor field work. Outdoors is also an excellent place to conduct those messy and/or explosive science experiments that you may have been holding off on. No kitchen clean-up that way. Get the family involved in some gardening or intricate landscaping projects that involve some design work as well as physical labor. Having the kids figure out the best times of day to be outside working or playing, watching the skies for stormy weather, and just getting back to nature are all good ways to use summer to your advantage, without abandoning your school plans altogether.

And don't forget your library's summer reading programs. Enjoying a good book in a perfect shady spot is one of the true pleasures of summer, a lesson every child can learn.