Summertime is here! And while many families are gearing up for camps, vacations, and fun activities to fill their days, others may already be worrying about when school starts up again. As homeschooling parents, most of us have gotten our end-of-year test scores back and may have concerns about next year. Some of our kids are poor test takers. Other kids aren’t at the grade level we’d hoped to see. But the weather is so beautiful, we don’t want to be cooped up inside working on math or reading skills over the summer. What options are there to keep learning alive during the summer and where can you turn for help if you need it?
First, know that you are not alone! Many families have kids who are not at grade level in at least one subject. One of my daughters really struggled with math in her early elementary years. I took a very drastic approach and selected a new math curriculum and backed her up to the VERY beginning, when she was in 4th grade. I figured if her foundation was weak, there was really no way for her to progress. She’s a homeschooling high school student now, so we have technically been behind for a long time. But guess what? She knows how to do her math! She’s not fast at it but she plugs along at her own pace and she understands how to do it. And to me, that’s more important.
Second, know that it’s OK to have your kids learn all year long! In fact, I question how anyone can stop learning. That whole idea seems a little silly and outdated to me. Yes, the topics may be different in the summer, but I know homeschooling families who make EVERYTHING educational, and it’s usually pretty fun, too.
Third, get your student involved with a solution. What do I mean by that? Well, if your student is below grade level and you (or your student) are concerned about progress, it may be time to get out a pencil and paper and write up a timeline with measurable and achievable goals. Is it a realistic goal for your student to complete their math or spelling program over the summer? If there’s too much material to complete during the summer, can you shelve it until September? Do you need assistance from someone outside your home to help your son or daughter understand and complete their work?
There are a lot of places to look for help. One place is the King County Library System (KCLS). With your library card, you can access free homework help at the library or online in a variety of subjects. If you visit http://www.kcls.org/teens/homework.cfm and click on tutor.com, you can access “live help from professional tutors online from 2 pm-midnight daily.” This service is available for kindergarten through 12th grade, and for adult learners, too!
Another place to look is the Washington Homeschool Organization’s Marketplace. Sometimes you can find people who tutor a variety of subjects or you can place an ad seeking someone to teach your kids.
Recently I met a husband and wife team (John and Mandy Hickman) who are directors of The Tutoring Center in Sammamish, and they are looking to reach out to homeschoolers. Their center provides “one-to-one instruction in Reading, Writing, Math, Algebra I & II, and Geometry. And they do SAT and ACT Prep.” They are homeschool-friendly and can provide free diagnostic assessments, and offer family rates. John said he sees so many parents buying private lessons in music and athletics; it makes sense for parents to make that same investment in their child’s academic learning, too.
Something else to keep in mind is that even as adults, we all have some areas in our learning that come naturally and other areas that we really have to work hard for. As homeschoolers, our kids may have an easier time finding information than we ever did. With online tools and databases readily available to them, they know that they can find whatever information they’re looking for. So relax and enjoy your summer. Know that there are resources available to you. And when you need a little motivation, the following equation usually works at my house: x + y + z = ZY, where x = book work, y = chores, z = good attitude, and ZY = Zoey Yogurt. Solve the equation. Repeat as necessary.
Kelly Malleck is a homeschooling mom to two daughters. Check out her blog for more articles about homeschooling: https://kellymalleck.wordpress.com/