Schools out for the Summer and we’re all ready for a change. The first few days we sit back and bask in the glory of unscheduled, plan-free bliss. However it doesn’t take long before the lack of structure begins to take its toll. For us it was almost exactly two weeks.
Sure, the kids were happy to be free from our regularly scheduled lessons but now they were getting into everything. Bouncing from one activity to another in an endless pursuit of entertainment. I was busy working on neglected chores or writing while they played but found myself settling more squabbles than usual and directing the clean up on messes much larger than our typical day to day mess (which was a lot to start with.) Something had to give.
Enter the Summer school routine. My expectations aren’t elaborate. Truly at the center of our Summer school is a desire for structure and routine. Yes, a little academic review doesn’t hurt but more than anything I wanted our days to have a general rhythm. What can I say, we’re creatures of habit and when our days have rhythm we just function better with so much more peace.
So, how do we do Summer school while keeping it light and fun? We keep things MINIMAL. I also hold the rhythm with an open hand. On days we decide to visit the zoo or go swimming we’ll skip academics in favor of Summer activities. On days we find ourselves at home we fall right back into our rhythm.
The first thing is that we limit screen time. Our kids are at an age that this is easier than in the earlier years. They are all old enough to be independent and come up with their own ideas to be creative. [This took a PAINFUL amount of time and practice to get here but hear me when I say it, TOTALLY WORTH it!] Typically we do not watch TV during the week. Because it’s Summer I have been letting them watch one educational show each afternoon. I know this might sound crazy, but hang with me. Since they were little I have chosen something to be our “Summer Show.” It’s usually something still educational but more cartoon-ish. They only watch it in the Summer. It eliminates arguments over what to watch because they already know the show. For the past few years it’s been Bubble Guppies. Last year it was Little Bear (you can find basically all the episodes on YouTube) I’m pretty sure they’ll always associate those shows with Summer. (As a caveat, there are days we claim as a movie day when it’s 10 hundred degrees outside or if someone’s feeling a little under the weather but for the most part that’s our screen policy.)
Next, I chose journaling to be our core rhythm, something we do daily. I got the girls Junior Composition Notebooks. It’s just a half composition book, but it’s less intimidating than a full page. They get such a happy feeling when they fill up a whole page with ideas and with a half sized journal that’s a much easier task to accomplish! I don’t put parameters on what they write. They can write as little or as much as they like. (I do encourage them to be reasonable-one word or one sentence isn’t reasonable) However, on less inspired days I offer copy work as an alternative. They can copy the week’s Bible verse or a fun poem. It’s just as valuable an activity when they do copy work as when they write on their own.
The rest of our activities are in a loop. We’ll do as many as we like/have time for in a day and then just pick up where ever we left off on the next day. Here’s an example of our loop:
Under the sunshine I listed:
Learn + PLAY Activity
We always start with journal and then move down the loop from there. Let’s say today we did Lexia, independent reading, and a Learn + PLAY activity but stopped before we started Math. Then the next day after we did journal (because that’s a daily activity) we would start with Math and then jump back up to Lexia and continue down the list again.
I was hoping to have it this week but it hasn’t arrived yet but I plan to add in Typing to the schedule for my rising 3rd grader. The Good and The Beautiful developed a printed program for learning to type and I am excited for it! I like that is is not video game-esque. I learned to type using a textbook and always enjoyed learning that way vs. using a computer program. I’ll use it with my crew and report back with a review later this summer!
Last, we maintain our daily room time rhythm on most days. We all still need a little quiet time to read, rest, or recharge for the afternoon (how CUTE is tiny Sadie in this picture? She was probably 3 and doing great with room time already!)
After using this routine the benefits were immediate. There is a peacefulness that comes with structure and if we are all going to enjoy the Summertime we definitely needed a rhythm and routine. Curious about any other part of our Summer days? Ask away! I’m always happy to help!