Continuing education for home educators looks a lot different than the required continuing education that public school teachers participate in to  sharpen and gain new skills. They go to workshops, training classes, and conventions. Home educators have no such requirements in most cases, but it’s no less important for them to develop their own toolbox of teaching skills.

To my knowledge there aren’t any college courses specifically for home educators, so when our school year draws to a close, I plan summer school for myself and you can too.

The school year keeps me so busy with lesson plans, grading, and shuttling my son to various lessons and extra-curricular activities that I scarcely have time to read anything more substantial than a magazine or incorporate many enriching activities for myself. All work and no play make me feel dull and uninteresting.

I use the summer months to educate, refresh, and invigorate myself. Charlotte Mason called such activities “Mother Culture.” These days we can call it continuing education for the home educator.

I choose a variety of books to read during the summer- some are definitely educational, such as The Original Homeschooling Series, which you can read free at Ambleside Online. that teaches the principals of the Charlotte Mason method which was written by Miss Mason herself. Other books are more for enjoyment though they still have educational value, such as The Anne of Green Gables series or The Chronicles of Narnia. Many times I read the literature books that will be on our reading list for the upcoming school year to get ahead.

Continuing education for home educators is easy in the summer! You can improve your knowledge of classical music with the many free music concerts featuring community orchestras. Maybe this summer I will finally be able to tell Beethoven from Bach!

During the school year, we read a Shakespeare play each of our three school terms, so I’m very interested in understanding the works of Shakespeare better. I’m fortunate that there are opportunities to see his plays each summer for free or for a nominal admission charge. I’m planning to attend as many plays as possible so that “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well,” will be more than just a quote I remember from my high school days. I plan to read each play prior to attending a performance and to use study materials such as Brightest Invention of Heaven by Peter Leithart and Cliff’s Notes to assist me in furthering my understanding of Shakespeare’s plays.

Two other areas I add to my continuing education plan are art appreciation/art history and foreign language (French). I have a copy of Sister Wendy Beckett’s The Story of Painting, which is a very comprehensive guide to the history of Western art. Sister Wendy also had a television program under the same name that you can watch on YouTube. I am quite fond of the Impressionists but that is pretty much where my art knowledge begins and ends. I plan to develop my knowledge of artists and artist movements by systematically working my way through this book.

I was extremely fortunate to study French from the fourth grade through college and just went to France for the first time this year. I use Duolingo and listen to the Duolingo podcast to help me regain and improve my French skills. It was very gratifying to use the French that I had learned and be able to speak French on my trip.  If you have experience with a foreign language you haven’t used in a while, think about regaining and sustaining fluency during the summer.

There are opportunities everywhere for home educators to pursue their education each summer. Museums often have teacher nights or training sessions that are open to all educators, colleges often have free or reduced price lectures, bookstores have author readings, and streaming services have documentaries available in various subject areas. And of course, the internet is also a useful tool for the home educator’s continuing education plan. Without leaving your home you can watch a Shakespeare play, listen to a world-class orchestra perform a concerto, view art masterpieces, listen to and practice speaking a foreign language, and even read books online.

Parents, I encourage you to think of making this summer a fruitful one for yourself and to invite your home schooling friends to do summer continuing education along with you. A school break spent in worthy pursuits will equip you with fresh enthusiasm and strengthen you as a home educator. That’s a win for everyone!