by Rebecca Keliher
As the temperature begins to rise and the beauty of the sun beckons us outdoors, it’s the time of year for a school break. Each year, I’m excited about scheduling our summer. Don’t get me wrong, there is never an hourly chart for the summer months. However, scheduling for those summer months has helped us utilize our time wisely, get the rest we needed, and get ready to dive into school in the fall.
In our fourteen plus years of homeschooling, each summer has brought with it a different need for off time. There were years when we took a few months off during the school year due to a new baby and other times of unforeseen interruptions, and we barely made it through half our books. We used these summer months to catch up on schoolwork.
Most years, by May, we had our fill of formal school and were ready to put the books away and take a break. The routine had become frustrating and the enthusiasm for learning had dwindled.
In the more recent years, we began to travel to homeschool conventions as early as February, and the interruption in school can often leave us finishing up a bit late.
I love the flexibility in homeschooling and how it allows for each family to reflect on the successes and struggles of each year and then determine how to forge ahead. When deciding to take a break, school year round, or do a bit of school each summer day, be sure to consider your priorities.
In our home the priorities are relationship, character and then academics. If our school year has been heavy on the academic and light on relationship building, then I plan for summer schedule that will allow for more one on one time with each child. Vice versa, if it’s been a challenging year for academics, we plan for school during the summer months.
This year, my schedule was busier than ever, and I failed to spend the time needed in math with one of our kids. His skills fell behind, and he is struggling with multiplication and division facts. This summer I am spending time doing daily math drills and practice sheets in order to make sure he is ready for the following school year. This hasn’t been very good news for him, so to make the experience enjoyable and less school like, I have found games to play and unique rewards to use when he accomplishes his goals.
Another concern I have, as our children are getting older, is the lack of desire to play outside and the increasing attention to hours spent gaming. It’s a delicate line to draw between allowing children what they want to do versus what they need to do, especially when they are over a foot taller than you!
This year, I have selected a few books to read out-loud, gardening projects, and job responsibilities for our children that I hope will balance their time between productivity, learning, and fun time.
Setting the atmosphere is half the battle. When reading out loud, I choose adventure novels, a shaded area on the porch, lemonade, and a tasty snack. Spending an hour or two a few days a week in the fresh air with good literature is a creative approach to teaching.
Since hard work is value we hold very high in our home, our kids have always had chores, even from a young age. As tweens and teens, they are given jobs for the summer. Mowing lawns, tending the gardens, watering plants, working on the food truck, or packaging boxes in the warehouse are jobs that bring the feeling of accomplishment and value as a contributing part of the household.
Each of us have different aged kids with different life circumstances, but with a little creative thinking you can structure healthy summer time fun and learning.
Keep a Routine
Although the schoolbooks are put away for several months, I make sure to keep the daily routine. I want the kids to enjoy lazy summer mornings and sleeping in, but also learn that life is never void of work altogether.
The morning routine of making beds, brushing teeth, washing face, putting on fresh clothes, and cleaning their rooms is still a requirement before they are allowed breakfast. This keeps a basic level of cleanliness throughout the sweaty season, as well as my sanity.
A routine is not on a timetable. It’s a rhythm and flow of one event followed by another. Some days this starts early, on others it starts late. This frees me from the ever present clock ticking away in my ear and allows for me to keep a system in place that gets things done, in a relaxed way.
I try hard to balance training children into young adults and allowing them to enjoy their childhood. Kids today grow up too fast, and if there’s one thing I’m learning to appreciate in this season of life, it’s the cuddling up in a hammock and talking of nothing much.
I hope your summer is full of rest, conversations with your kids, and a level of productivity that brings you back to the school season ready and excited.
That’s well planned.
Used with permission: This article was originally published in the 2015 Issue 3 of Family Magazine and at http://hedua.com/blog/a-scheduled-summer/
Rebecca Keliher is a homeschool mom just like you. She put her love of scrapbooking to work and turned a homeschool newsletter into the beautiful Also known as the Well Planned Gal, Rebecca used her eye for design and knack for organization to create the original homeschool planner, Well Planned Day. As you peruse wellplannedgal.com, Rebecca hopes you'll be encouraged, inspired, and equipped for your homeschool journey.