“We need to keep doing school lessons during the summer break or our children could regress, forget information, or fall behind.” I have heard this many times and often had this fear myself. But when I tried to do school assignments over summer break, they were done poorly and children rush through them. We must remember that a child’s mind is strong and that they are not going to lose a ton of knowledge in a matter of weeks. They may forget the superficial school lessons that they didn’t digest and make their own to begin with, but not the most important ideas.

Also in eight weeks, they have the time to mature and grow. Sometimes when a child isn’t grasping something, it’s not for lack of trying, it’s not for the lack of the parent, it’s just that the child’s brain needs more time to develop to grasp that concept. Summer break might be just the time that your child’s brain needs to rest and let those ideas grow.

I do get asked, “What should I be doing with my children during the summer? Should we still be doing lessons or should it just be kind of a free for all? What would Charlotte Mason have to say on the subject?” I know a lot of homeschoolers school year round, so this question comes from homeschool moms who are taking a traditional eight-week summer break. Charlotte Mason herself does not say a lot in her volumes on this subject, but I have found some useful tips in my time with using the philosophy that have been super helpful with my kids!

Here are my suggestions:

#1) Get Outside!

One learning opportunity for the summer time is inspiring your kids to go outside and study nature. As children become more and more prone to staying inside on various electronic devices, they have lost curiosity in the natural sciences that are developed when playing outside. If we show a curiosity in learning about nature, then that will motivate our children to brave the outdoors during the summer as well! So if you’re taking a trip to the seaside, you could be learning about different shells or birds or plants that might be where you’re going to go on vacation. Or a trip to the country, where they can learn about the trees and the animals that are going to be where you might not normally be if you’re gonna go on a vacation somewhere different. It provides a great opportunity to get them interested in different environments. They will be learning about God’s universe for the sake and beauty that these subjects provide naturally in themselves.

#2) Do Some Handicrafts

Getting creative and doing some of the Charlotte Mason inspired handicrafts that you didn’t get to during the school year can be a fun way to help your kids remember the information they learned throughout the school year! There are so many to choose from, and can be a great way to get the whole family together. 

#3) Spend Lots of Time Together as Family

The summer brings this opportunity to make these family memories, to be with our loved ones more than we ever have before. Summer holidays are absolutely essential for children and for their families. To make bonding memories that your kids will remember forever! I love going into the summer season with that mindset, what are the special memories and connections we can make as a family during this time?

#4) Volunteer

The summer is a great time to help those in need.  Whether your child is making a handicraft like a blanket or learning to bake, your children can start to provide these to folks in need. With extra time, your family can serve food or sort clothing at a shelter. And for your teen, getting volunteer hours can look great on college applications. Little ones can make cards, or draw pictures for hospital patients during this time. What a beautiful way to teach your family to have empathetic hearts to those who need help. So what is a way that you can encourage your children to help those less fortunate than themselves this summer?

#5) Rest Up!

We often take rest for granted, especially during the school year. But being an example for your children to give themselves a break is so crucial. Letting their bodies just rest and letting their brains have time to heal, I think is so important. We can view this vacation opportunity, this break that we have, not as something that is just for fun, or that they’re slacking off, or that they’re gonna forget everything that they’ve been learning all school year. But see that our brains really do need this rest. It’s in that rest time that all these living ideas they’ve been learning all school year, have that time to take root and those connections can form even deeper. That is why rest really is very important for a child’s development.

So these 5 things are great ways to implement a Charlotte Mason inspired summer. Seeing the beauty in the break and the opportunity that presents itself for you and your family to bond and learn together.

“Some absorbing interest which shall keep our minds and sense healthily occupied and leads us to ever-growing knowledge of God’s universe, are to the healthfulness of a holiday.”

  • J. S. Mills, “Holiday Tests,” (1893)