Guest post from Lauren Mirecki
Summer time. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Time for a break from schoolwork, cold weather, and schedules, moving into lazy mode and just lounging around the slip n slide/pool/sprinkler/splash pad/beach. Or not.
Last year I noticed that when we took the summer off, like pretty much everybody else, we ended up most days driving each other crazy with off-kilter routines, and pretty well not much of a plan to do anything but whatever we came up with for the day.
While this may be a good plan for a lot of people, for us, it was disastrous. Bad attitudes, fights, boredom and general chaos and confusion was what we encountered most days. So I made a decision. One that a lot of people think I’m nuts for doing, but one that also a lot of other people are already successfully doing with their families.
I decided to summer school (*insert gasp*).
Yes, our family is homeschooled, and yes, we need a break from school just like everyone else. But we also really just plain love the routine and how a school schedule helps us to stay on track – most days.
Now everyone does their summer school differently. Some go for 6 weeks throughout the year, then take a 1 week break – and they do this all year round. Others take a 2-4 week break at the start of summer, then jump right back into full on lessons all the way through, with 1 week breaks here and there.
Since I have 3 kids – Grade 2, Kindergarten and almost preschool – and I’m pregnant with our fourth, I decided to take a slightly less exhausting route. I worked our school year out to have us doing most of our science (we are studying Land Animals) during the fall and summer months, when we have the easiest access to our zoo (for which we have a pass).
It also worked out that we’re not finished math (I did that on purpose, cough, cough :D), so we’re working on that through the summer as well. Math is one of the MOST important subjects I find we need to continue with, almost daily – a short and quick math lesson with a game is more than enough to keep their minds sharp and focused throughout the year!
Reading is definitely VERY important to keep up over the summer months. Of course, we are including LOTS of picture books and read alouds in our daily routine – Paddle to the Sea (with activities from my friend Jessica), Mr. Popper’s Penguins (with a unit study from Confessions of a Homeschooler), Ambleside Online recommended reading for Year 1, and a heap of library books. We’re also doing a summer reading challenge with each of the boys – each certain number of chapters they read earns them a space on the map, and rewards along the way!
We are also doing some crafts and summer fun ideas that I’ve had pinned from Pinterest – which is a HUGE wealth of information for fun “summer school” and activity ideas! (Water balloon fights are educational – right?)
All that to say, we’re not taking on a full course load, and we’re definitely not doing school every day. We’re looking at about 3 days a week, doing science, math, reading and some writing (gotta keep those pencils and fingers sharp too!). This only takes up the morning or afternoon portion of our days, so we’ll often plan to hit the park or splash pad before or after. The other days we have planned play dates, outings and field trips.
And you know, I have not heard a single complaint yet!
So, if you’re considering what to do over the summer, consider this – if you don’t homeschool, pick up some Summer Bridge books (your local Costco and Walmart, or other book stores usually carry them). Work some school work into your schedule a few days a week to keep things consistent. I guarantee that you’ll hear a lot less “I’m bored”s coming out of their mouths!
And if you do homeschool, assess your families needs – yours and your children’s included. If you have a husband who is off for the whole summer, or you plan a lot of vacation time, camps or activities, then full-on summer school may not be for you. Or you may have the flexibility to add in a full course load, or a few days a week. Just make sure you do give yourself a break somewhere in there to prevent burnout! Of course, you can always give it a try for a while, and if you find it just doesn’t work for your family, then at least you gave it a good shot.
Whether you decide to summer school or not, the main thing is to approach each day with a plan! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something fun, hopefully educational that everyone will enjoy – make some memories – and have fun!
What about you? Do you summer school or not?
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