This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.
Looking for a few alternatives to summer school? Trying to keep kids focused on learning during the summer months can be a challenge. Try these ten ways to motivate kids to learn this summer and stay on track for the next school year!
The Summer Slide
Ah, the summer slide. Do you know it? You may have experienced it – if not by this name then by another. It’s the idea that three months of lazing around in the summer causes kids to lose what they learned in the previous academic year.
As a former teacher, I can tell you – the summer slide is real.
But summer means pool time, popsicles, catching fireflies, and sleeping late! I don’t want to lose that summertime feeling – we all need a break. Continuing school straight through the summer is not an option.
We need an alternative to summer school that kids will enjoy AND get the math and literacy practice they need not to slide back.
Check out these 10 Alternatives to Summer School and save yourself the frustration of repeating the last quarter of this year in September!
Alternatives to Summer School
- Look for Learning Opportunities
- Take a Field Trip
- Get Creative
- Take Learning Outdoors
- Learn in the Kitchen
- Self Guided Learning
- Add Screen Time
- Hands-on Learning
- Switch Roles
- Take a Break
10 Alternatives to Summer School
1. Look for Local Learning Opportunities
You are not the only one trying to stop the Summer Slide! Check your local area for learning opportunities all summer long.
- Library classes or read alouds
- Summer reading challenges
- Hands-on learning at a children’s museum
- Classes at your local community center
- Children’s classes at a local art museum
- Science-in-nature classes at a local park
- Ask about behind-the-scenes tours of your local grocery stores, restaurants, factories, and recycling plants!
Check out your local newspaper, local television station websites, or your city’s community center for a list of what’s going on! Many places offer free or inexpensive classes or special field trips for the day.
Does your library offer a summer reading challenge? If not, create your own with our summer printables and reading challenge packet!
2. Take a Field Trip
Summer is a great time to take trips as a family. Whether you drive across the country visiting important landmarks or you take a nature hike in your own community. Field trips are great for motivating kids to learn.
- Visit a new-to-you state or national park
- Check out a Presidential Library virtually or in person
- Drive to the next city to visit museums you usually wouldn’t have time for
You can learn so much on a field trip, but they can be exhausting during the school year. Make an educational field trip the big adventure for your week.
3. Get Creative
Art and music are the subjects that tend to get neglected (or outsourced) in our homeschool. Summer is the perfect time to make up for it!
Ditch the workbooks and grab some art supplies!
- Paint, draw, or color the landmarks you’ve seen or places you’ve visited on your field trips
- Write a song about a historic figure
- Illustrate a comic book about an adventure you had as a family
- Be inspired by an art museum trip or book and create your own art work
- Check out famous abstract action painters and make your own messy art!
4. Take Learning Outdoors
Why sit inside when it’s sunny outside? Just a change of scenery can inspire interest and motivate kids to learn.
A few outdoor learning opportunities:
- Observe butterflies and ants
- Sit in the grass for independent reading time
- Stare at the stars while learning astronomy
- Have a poetry picnic (or another educational theme)
- Practice math or sight words with sidewalk chalk
Or just listen to audio books while you dig in the dirt, like my son does!
5. Learn in the Kitchen
Is it me, or are you kids suddenly, voraciously hungry in the summer?
I don’t know if it’s the heat or maybe they are all growing at once. Harness that hunger and take learning into the kitchen. They will love practicing reading and math when the end-game is a snack!
- Read a recipe
- Measure ingredients
- Try new foods from regions around the world
- Learn about healthy foods and ingredients
If you have a little one who loves to cook, don’t miss the Kid Chef and Kid Chef Bakes cookbooks. These family-friendly recipes are easy to make together. We’ve used our Kid Chef book until the cover was falling off! I’m saving the baking one for this summer, and it looks fantastic. YUM!
6. Self-Guided Learning
Checking up on school work and too much structure can stress some kids out during the summer months. Prepare for summer learning by letting kids choose their own learning subjects and lessons.
- Let them choose all their own books at the library
- Build a unit study about what your child wants to learn
- Create your own DIY workbook for the summer all about their favorite things
Just asking your children for input about what they want to learn about can motivate them!
7. Add in Screen Time
While most parents are trying to cut back on screen time, there are some programs out there that will motivate kids to learn and prevent the summer slide!
Try a free trial or stack a few new apps on your computer or tablet. You might find one that you love. Our favorites online programs:
- Reading Eggs & Math Seeds (ages 3-14)
- Epic! Online library for kids (preschool – 12 years)
- Online Unit Studies (elementary with help, independent work for upper elementary & middle school)
- Smartick Math (ages 4-14)
- Starfall (preschool – 2nd grade)
- Teach Your Monster to Read (preschool – 2nd grade)
8. Hands on Learning
Hands-on experiences makes learning fun for little ones, but we often forget that big kids love to learn with hands-on fun, too! Find hands-on learning opportunities at your local parks and museums or make your own at home. It’s easy – just think BIGGER!
|Writing words or sentences on paper...||Writing them on the sidewalk.|
|Completing a math worksheet...||Use stones or sticks in the yard as manipulatives.|
|Practicing counting or word recognition in a workbook...||Practice on a hopscotch board.|
|Learning about nature from a book...||Start your own garden.|
Hands-on learning takes a little more effort, but has a big payoff. If you’re on summer break, too, it might be a good time to try out a fun subscription box that fits your child’s interests.
These are a fantastic at-home alternative to summer school that won’t require any additional effort! All the hands-on learning without any of the extra planning!
9. Switch Roles
Kids love when they get to be the leader, especially if they can teach a parent something new. Switch teacher and student roles and let the kids teach you. Give kids a few days to research their topic and create a lesson plan, and then it’s your turn to sit and listen!
10. Take a Break
Don’t panic! A short break is not going to cause your child to slide back academically. When nothing seems to get them going, take a few days or weeks off to rest.
You might notice that after just a short time your child will begin to get bored and start looking for learning opportunities once again. Pick up on that! You might be surprised at how quickly your child will be ready to “do school” again after a break.
The key to keeping kids engaged in learning during the summer is thinking outside the box. Get creative, try new things, and explore your community for opportunities to learn!
More Summer Learning from the Resource Room:
Ashley helps parents who want to homeschool find the resources they need to successfully teach their children. Ashley is a former teacher, current homeschooler, published author, and designer behind Circle Time with Miss Fox printables as well as the creator of this website, The Homeschool Resource Room.