When a homeschooling parent thinks about summer camp, it can often feel like they’re farming their kids out or sending them away from the home. But if parents look for a summer camp with the right frame of mind, and think about what they want their kids to gain from camp, it can actually be used to strengthen your homeschooling year.
For instance, if you know that you have an academic heavy year coming up, look for summer camps with plenty of physical activities to help fill the gap. And, if your state allows, you keep track of your homeschooler’s hours you can submit that for a physical education credit (check out your state’s homeschool regulations here). How cool is that!?
Earn Extra Credit
Summer camps are also a great way to get more learning and growth in areas like science or art that you as a parent felt you didn’t spend enough time on, or were uncomfortable teaching during the academic year. A lot of parents put their students in science labs in the summer — especially in high school — because every high school student needs a lab credit, but they may not feel comfortable teaching a chemistry or biology lab. Finding that science summer camp where they’ll be doing dissections and experiments can really give them the lab credits and the exposure that they need later on.
Spark a New Interest
Using a summer camp for some extra educational credits is just one way to use camps to bolster your homeschooling year. You can also use the camps to turn your student onto a subject that might not interest them at first academically. If they’re not interested in life sciences out of a textbook, maybe an adventure camp with lots of hiking, bird watching, and exploring the great outdoors can pique their interest. You’ll find that once the academic year rolls around, they’ll be able to draw on those memories from camp and be more engaged with the subject matter.
Beat Summer Brain Drain
We want to give our homeschool children the best education possible, and part of that means getting them out of the house and getting them involved. But, using summer camps as a way to get homeschool students active and involved doesn’t have to stop with hiking trips and chemistry labs. By making them a part of the decision and planning process of picking a summer camp they can learn valuable math and project management skills.
Set up a bank account for your homeschooler and give them a budget for camp to teach finances and budgeting, as well as helping them become more independent. Beyond that, you can have them help plan the whole trip. How far of a drive is it to camp? Will we need a hotel room? How will that affect our budget? Not only will the involvement make their summer camp experience more enjoyable, it will teach your homeschooler invaluable life skills.
Keeping It Fun
But parents, keep in mind that you don’t want to turn summer camp into school. Your homeschool assignments can be as simple as, “What summer art project meant the most to you?” And when they roll into their next academic year, they’ll remember that and the positive memories you fostered this summer. By using summer camps to bridge the gap between spring and fall, avoid summer brain drain, and adhere to your personal mission statement for your homeschooler, the connections between camp and academics will come naturally.
Let’s Get Social
Lastly, summer camps are a great way for homeschooling families to get out and encourage social relationships, without struggling to fit it into the school day. However, don’t rush into it. If your homeschooler is not out with peers a lot, an overnight summer camp could be a bit overwhelming. You might want to think through having them go with a friend or to a day camp.
If your child’s just not comfortable going away to a camp — either nerves or it’s not financially possible — don’t worry! You can always consider online options. Most of the classes are tech oriented, they’re low pressure, cheaper than a summer camp, but still offer homeschoolers an avenue for socialization and extended learning throughout the summer months.
These are just some of the ways I found how homeschooling families can augment their summer camp experience. What interesting techniques have you used as a homeschooling parent to make summer camp fun and engaging? Leave your ideas in a comment below.