Primary Arts of Language: Summer Reinforcement Ideas that Don’t Steal Your Sanity

Apr 17, 2017 | Posted by Danielle Olander


It’s that time of year again! The days are lengthening. Moms are beginning to see the light at the end of the math book. Kids are squirrely to be done with school. But what’s a mom to do about the dreaded summer “brain drain”? We’ve all heard about it. It’s the reason most math and spelling workbooks spend the first quarter of the new academic year reviewing old material.

Those who school year round speak of the benefit of not having to deal with the brain drain. For this Michigan mom, though, schooling year round is not high on my list of priorities. We only have three months of nice weather. I don’t want to spend them inside, strapped to the dining room table. However, after twelve years of homeschooling, I can say that brain drain does sometimes show up.

We recently had a customer ask how to extend the learning from Primary Arts of Language (PAL) over the summer. Since my youngest is just finishing up the PAL program, I thought I would share some of my plans for continuing and reinforcing the learning during the break.

Option 1: Continue with the lessons at a slower pace. If you haven’t finished PAL yet and want to continue with it over the summer, try doing one lesson a week, choosing a different activity or part of the lesson each day. For example, you could do the poem on Monday, writing and spelling on Tuesday, games on Wednesday, and so on. You will make slower progress, but you might move ahead by twelve to fifteen lessons, depending on how long your summer break is.

Option 2: Reinforce what you’ve learned with PAL materials. Since my daughter will be finished with the PAL reading lessons in about a week, I’m going to review with her using the PAL materials. I’ve printed the reading sentences again, but on different colored paper to add interest. After cutting them apart, I’ll put them in a Mason jar and keep it on the counter. At the back of the PAL Reading Student Book: Part 2 (Lessons 41–80) are extra poems. We’ll be using those throughout the summer. Once those are finished, we’ll begin Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, which I wanted to do earlier this year, but never got to. I am also reviewing all the word cards to make sure they have all stuck.

Option 3: Read and write through your summer activities. We are hoping to travel a little this summer, and we will be bringing journals and books with us. Continue the class journal by writing about what you are doing each day or each week. If you are traveling, look for easy readers about the locations. So many libraries, bookstores, and other businesses have reading clubs over the summer. My youngest is thrilled that she can finally join her brother and sister in these.

If you are looking for a great guide for summer reading, I suggest using Give Your Child the World to find books from around the world. I had the fun of teaching a class for our littlest learners at our co-op this semester, and we would just read for an hour—no activities, no crafts, no food—and the kids loved it. It was such a joy to read stories with these children. As we read, we would choose our favorite book and draw a picture from it. Under the title on the page, the students rated each book using star or happy face stickers I found at the discount store. They loved being able to rate the books. The author has a summer book club with links to videos and recipes that you can use all summer long.

Summer learning can happen, even without being strapped to the dining room table. My mom taught me to wonder and learn, and most of that wasn’t in a textbook. Enjoy your time with your children without the lesson planner hanging over your hearts. Read lots of books. Write about them. And wonder.


Danielle Olander, an IEW® Accomplished Instructor, is the author of Rockets, Radar, and Robotics. Married to her college sweetheart, Ray, and a homeschooling mom of five amazing children, she teaches several of IEW's online writing classes. After graduating from her parents’ homeschool in the pioneer days of homeschooling, Danielle graduated summa cum laude with her B.A. in English/History Education from Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI.

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