How to Stop Summer Brain Drain

Summer breezes are blowing in my windows these days and my children’s motivation toward their (summer) is floating right out that same open window. Green grass and trees and shrubs are in full bloom. Flowers are blooming everywhere. There is even a new robin’s nest with a couple of eggs sitting in the tree in our parkway. All these bright colors, after the gloom and doom of a Chicago winter and spring are simply too enticing for my children. The outdoors are calling my children and distracting them from concentrating on schoolwork indoors.

How to Stop Summer Brain Drain

And, yes, we do school, a bit, in the summer months. I decide to go with the flow and instead of fighting for my children’s attention, I put the textbooks aside, for the time being,  and we headed outdoors.

I’ve decided if I let my kiddos burn off some energy in this mid-June sun, they will actually focus better for me on their summer schoolwork when I call them back indoors for a bit more of Algebra. Hence, the let’s get outdoors, run around a bit, and have fun learning.

How to Stop Summer Brain Drain

I have learned a few tricks over the past 7 years of home educating my kiddos. The best way for me to incorporate fun learning into their summer schedule is rather simple. It just takes a bit of planning and preparing ahead of time.

Here are some ways I like to bring Geography, Math and English lessons outdoors with us.


I love that my children already love Geography. This past year, they didn't have too much in the way of Geography either, so I think we need a bit of polishing on this subject. In the summer, they adore this subject because we participate in an activity known as Letterboxing. Have you ever LetterBoxed? It is a quest to search for a hidden box - with various clues that are left by strangers.

The hider leaves clues to the location of the hidden box and you search for it. I used to create maps from the clues myself for my kiddos, but they are now old enough to create their own maps to follow. We then use the map and get familiar with symbols, landmarks and landscapes of the areas (usually all around the suburbs of Chicago) we are searching. My children learn how to create and read maps, use a compass, use landmarks to hidden locations and generally have a fabulous afternoon of ‘learning fun’.

How to Stop Summer Brain Drain


I simply state it is their turn to cook dinner and give my kiddos a budget. They each must create grocery lists, clip coupons and calculate the amount of money to spend per person. We have a grocery store field trip to purchase the food for the dinner or sometimes even a picnic.

I create algebraic problems written in sharpie on plastic baggies for the children to fill with the different food items they have selected (this does take a bit of pre-planning). My kids have so much fun, they don’t even realize they are doing homework.

How to Stop Summer Brain Drain


I don't like lazy grammar. It really is a pet peeve of mine. My son began public school for the first time this past school year and suddenly says the word "ain't". It literally drives me bonkers every time he utters this benign word! While we are walking or driving, I ask my kiddos to look for specific things in nature on the way. If they happen to spot a bird, I ask them to tell me a short story about this bird and be as descriptive as possible. This strengthens their use of verbs and adjectives. I might even ask them to give me a complex sentence!

Another favorite is to play Onomatopoeia

“How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! “How they clang, and clash, and roar! What a horror they outpour ” ~ The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe.

I’m always trying to think of creative methods of teaching for my children. Home educating has afforded me the opportunity to be creative. So, when boredom hits or I am afraid that they are not going to remember things we talked about during the year, we have fun outdoors with Geography, Math, and English.

What are some of your favorite methods for keeping your kids learning during the summer?