STEP-BY-STEP plans for summer homeschooling to help your child catch up in a subject or work through an entire year’s education.
Over the years, I’ve been asked if I thought it was possible to “catch a child up” over the summer. Often, the mom asking me this question is wondering about a child who is behind in math or needs to work on reading skills.
I can easily say, “Absolutely!” to this question because all it takes is a concerted effort, a plan, and focused energy.
But, a couple of months ago, I was asked if I thought a mother could homeschool through an entire grade over the summer. This particular mother wasn’t sure if she would want to return her child to public school or continue to homeschool, but she felt desperate to get her child “caught up,” and wanted to know if I thought she could do it during the summer months.
What follows is my answer to this not so easy question…
Table of contents
- Can you homeschool to catch up an entire year?
- How to catch up a grade over the summer
- Summer School Curriculum Ideas
Can you homeschool to catch up an entire year?
This is not an easy question. There are a lot of factors to consider, but the biggest one is whether or not the child will be homeschooling or traditional schooling in the future. Here is why that is something you will need to ask yourself.
Difference between public school and homeschool “catching up.”
First of all, there is a big difference between “catching up” for public school and “catching up” for homeschool.
When you homeschool, YOU decide which classes are most important to the actual “catch up” process. Typically, this will be math and reading, occasionally science and/or history. Every other subject can usually be picked up at a later date.
However, if you are returning a child to public school, you will need to know what the school system wants your child to be caught up in. What will they want to test the child on before allowing them to join the next grade? All of this will need to be discussed with the administrators and teachers.
So, while I do believe an entire “public school” grade could quite possible be homeschooled over the summer, I am not going to definitively speak to that in particular. What I can speak to is homeschooling an entire grade over the summer without the intent of placing a child into the public school system the following school year.
Is “catching up” necessary?
Homeschooling a full grade over a 3 month period will be hard work, and your child probably won’t have much of a summer, but I am going to give you some guidelines to help you navigate the possibility with confidence.
But, first a warning – true mastery of subjects may not occur at such a quick pace. Really consider WHY you feel your child needs to finish an entire grade over the summer.
Is it in order to take a test?
Is it because you feel behind?
Is it a feeling of pressure coming from somewhere?
Whatever it is, be absolutely certain you NEED to homeschool an entire grade over the summer before you do it.
How to catch up a grade over the summer
Step 1: Decide which subjects MUST be taken.
As a homeschool mom, you know which subjects your child is having difficulty with. If you are trying to catch them up over the summer, choose only the subjects that absolutely MUST be tackled.
Again, this is typically going to be Math and/or Reading. Science and History rarely need to be handled in this way unless your child is needing graduation credits in order to make a certain time table, or there is a test needing to be taken to meet state requirements.
You may have special circumstances that require your child to have a prerequisite class in order to be accepted into a certain program, or you might want to get some “easy” credits out of the way over the summer.
Don’t add more to your plate than necessary!
Step 2: Plan your Scope & Sequence.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to look online. Nearly every curriculum and every school system out there posts their Scope & Sequence lists for each subject.
From there, you can decide what parts of that list apply to your child and which parts they have already mastered. (DO NOT WASTE TIME on things your child already knows!)
Then, you can decide how much needs to be done each day (or week) to get through the subject or subjects your child needs to get through over the summer.
Step 3: Decide on a curriculum or method.
You will need to make a plan for how your child is going to learn the things they need to learn over the summer. If you need help choosing a curriculum or method to do this, scroll toward the end of this post!
Step 4: Clear your schedule.
I cannot stress enough how important this step is. There is absolutely NO WAY you are going to be able to school an entire grade, or even subject, over the summer if you or your child are busy.
This may be the most difficult thing you face because it may mean you drop summer sports or swim lessons or time out with friends.
But it will be worth it in the long run!
Step 5: Stay consistent!
And here is the second most difficult thing you will face…consistency.
You have to commit to doing this. If your child is older, they need to be responsible for their work, and you will need to check up on them. If your child is younger, you will need to fight through the days when your child wants to give up.
And one of the best ways to stay consistent is…
Step 6: Plan rewards!
When you look at your Scope & Sequence, insert rewards for meeting certain milestones. Here are a few ideas:
- Family pizza night after getting 3 chapters finished.
- Trip to a Water Park halfway through the plan.
- Shopping Spree at a favorite store at the end of summer.
- A new app or game your child has been wanting.
- Stuffed animals
Do your best to really incentivize summer school, and celebrate the victories and accomplishments your child has at every opportunity possible!
Now for a few ideas for curriculum for your homeschool summer school!
Summer School Curriculum Ideas
Note: Trying to use a boxed curriculum as a crash course over the summer will probably not be your best option here. You can use pieces of the curriculum, but do not try to implement the entire thing. You and your child will only end up immensely frustrated. It is better to piece together EXACTLY what you need.
This step actually has endless possibilities – which I find very exciting and encouraging. I’ll try to cover a few of the ones I believe to be the most helpful.
When we moved to a new state and found our oldest son needed an Economics course in order to graduate by our state’s standards, I turned to Compass Classroom’s video series. He worked his way through it at a good pace, and had it finished in record time.
Related post: Review of Compass Classroom Economics
Compass Classroom offers a multitude of video courses that would work very well to get your child through certain subjects, so definitely check them out!
A curriculum with a video component can often help mom out when she doesn’t have sufficient knowledge in a subject, and would like her child to work at a consistent pace.
My oldest daughter currently works from a Scope and Sequence we found online for Algebra and then uses Khan Academy to work through that S&S. (By the way, she’s not doing this because she’s trying to “catch up,” but because traditional math curricula has never worked well for her.)
You might also consider using apps like Reading Eggs, Starfall, or ABC Mouse to help a child who is having trouble reading.
Similarly, if your child is behind in certain concepts in math, you can use an app or website to give them plenty of practice in that concept.
Related post: How Reading Eggs Helped my Struggling Reader
Math and Phonics both lend themselves to workbooks. By concentrating on getting several lessons done a day (with breaks in between), you can get quite far using the workbook method.
Suppose your child needs to have a Christian Worldview course under his belt before taking a certain co-op class in the fall. Snag a book list from online, and get him reading! Instead of written papers, try narration to help him retain and cut down on time spent in seat work.
Does your child need a composition class this summer, but you don’t know where to start? Grab a MLA Handbook! Yes, your child CAN read through the handbook and learn everything they need to know! – ask me how I know!
Do you have more questions? Check the comments section, ask you own questions, and even suggest more homeschool summer school ideas!