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    Home Education, Other Thoughts

    Sum Sum Summer Plans

    June 5, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

    This is our last week of school — or last full week, I should say. My oldest has enough left that I think he’ll go into Monday or Tuesday, but still, we’re transitioning into summer. I’ve spent today putting together an Average Day Chart or Plan or Something in my spare time so that I don’t get to the end of summer with regrets. That has happened to me many times in years past, and I think that my lack of planning is to blame.

    I’m turning over a new leaf, actually. I’m going to plan our days as deliberately as I plan our school days. Now, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be liberal amounts of free time for the children. I am, after all, a firm believer in Summer. It just means I’m going to make sure that what I want to get done and be done is done.

    So, to start with, in addition to using my Plan Your Year printables, I also used the free Summer Fun Binder printables that Pam made. I even broke down and made a binder, though I admit it felt a bit hypocritical to have it say “fun” on the cover. (I’m not sure I’m much fun!)

    I rarely use monthly calendars, and I think that, when it comes to summer, and perhaps when it comes to always, that has been my downfall. I’ve taken a day-to-day approach, rather than starting from a whole view.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not up for a hyper-scheduled summer. In fact, I really resonated with this article on the Top 10 Ways to Give Your Child a 1970s Summer, even if we don’t do television. It did, after all, remind me to schedule the 7Up Club and 11Up Club (membership of the latter still hovering at 1 ahem) movie nights. I don’t have the gas money to run all over town to kiddie activities, but we do try to swim at Gran’s once per week.

    So I’m working on the monthly calendars a la Pam.

    What I needed was really an Average Morning Chart, I decided. (This is what I’ll show you below.) Our afternoons vary a lot, but our mornings are pretty consistent. I’m beginning Kindergarten with O-Age-Five this summer to give us a head start before I officially have four students, and all the children do well if we start off the day with Something to Think About. Plus, I just don’t think my house should have to be as dirty in summer as it is during the school year, what with No Lessons and all.

    How I Planned

    I started where I always do — with a scrap piece of paper and a pencil. I made a number of headings on my paper: one for each of my children, myself, our morning routine, my writing schedule, and my study schedule. My goal was to get everything down on paper.

    I have an Average Day Chart template that I use, and so I started by plugging in everything that can’t change. Milking time? That can’t change. Breakfast time? I don’t want that to change. Circle Time? That is always right after breakfast — we usually start during breakfast, truth be told  — so, again, no change.

    After that, I used Pam’s loop scheduling worksheet to figure out what I really wanted other parts of the day to look like. In fact, using the worksheet helped me to see that I was asking too much, and needed to cut some things (what you’re seeing here is my final schedule, not my messy list of dreams).

    Usually, I don’t stick very strictly to times, but this summer, I want to try to be truly scheduled in the sense of time. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering that quote from The Story of Charlotte Mason, where, in reference to the college’s strict schedule, Essex Cholmondeley says:

    [A]t Scale How time was to be respected, given to the thing or person claiming it rightfully. Then there would always be time, without over-pressure or distraction. This sense of time value was hard to achieve but it bore the test of experience during the two years’ training. What an effort of faith it all was to one so slow to read, to write and to think. It did not seem possible to find a moment for everything, yet if no time was wasted there was plenty of it and no hurry.

    My goal here isn’t to do something at a certain time. That is a means to an end. The end is to see if I can get to that place where “no time is wasted” and because of this there is plenty of time … and no hurry (and, I hope, lots to show for it). If I haven’t allotted enough time for certain things, I’ll add time. The times on my current chart represent my best guess at a good schedule, but I always try to end up with a schedule that is fitting for what I’m trying to accomplish, not a schedule that I have to fit myself to, if that makes sense.

    With that said, starting times are never my issue. It is ending times. I am the sort of person to drag things out; I have a very long attention span and I hate leaving things undone because I often lack the discipline to come back to a task later. That is something I intend to fight this summer with a strict (but reasonable) morning schedule. I love the idea that I might be able to hammer all this out and sit down for a coffee break (ahem or brewing chocolate break!) at 10:30 am.

    So Here’s the Plan

    I’ll show you the plan, and then I’ll explain it a bit. Here it is:


    Average Morning Chart Summer 2014

    So let’s talk about some of this stuff — not because I think my schedule is fascinating, but because I always think scheduling posts are helpful when people give details.

    • Online tasks are what they sound like. I manage two Facebook pages, I have mod duties at the AO Forum, and I happen to really like Pinterest. I also need to do basic things like read and respond to emails. My goal is to try and fit all of this (with Pinterest coming last in case I run out of time) into the 45 minutes that I usually have free in the morning.
    • Circle Time for summer is oh so simple — so simple I won’t be posting a schedule. My husband reads the Bible before he leaves, and then I’ll transition into readings, one from these three categories: fiction, poetry, and non-fiction/science/nature study. I have stacks of things that I think the kids will enjoy or benefit from that don’t fit into the normal year, and this sort of reading fills up their little tanks before they really begin their days.
      • Fiction titles: Right now, we’re reading By the Shores of Silver Lake. I am so tempted to read Penrod next, but I know my youngest is going to haggle for more Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’ll see. We read an additional chapter of this during lunch.
      • Poetry: Right now, we’re reading Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. We’ll probably just do some Longfellow after that. I really like reading Hiawatha in the summer.
      • Non-fiction/science/nature study: I’ve been collecting living science books that I think all the children will love, so why not? At a section or chapter a day, I’m curious how much we’ll get through by the end of the summer. So far I’ve got There’s a Tarantula in my Purse!, Nature’s Weather Forecasters (um I didn’t pay that price at ALL, in case you click and are wondering about that), and The Fairy-land of Science.
    • Illiad: E-Age-Twelve and I didn’t finish reading it because I didn’t realize it should be spread over two terms instead of one, so we’ll just continue with about 20 minutes per day until we’re done.
    • Kindergarten: O-Age-Five’s kindergarten work includes time with his sisters. A wise friend reminded me recently that my girls are old enough to bless others. So the way that they can bless their little brother (and also Son E. and I, who need the time for The Illiad) is to help with his kindergarten. I’ll continue with his math (we’re doing MEP’s reception year) and phonics/writing lessons, and then A-Age-Nine will read him a Bible story, and then Q-Age-Seven will read him a picture book.
    • Friday list: No kindergarten on Friday, and no Illiad, either, so that we have time to do a couple things I wanted to do weekly during normal weeks of summer.
    • Chores: My children don’t really have as many chores as the schedule makes it appear, though sometimes they do dawdle. When they are done with their chores, they have free time, which is its own reward.
    • Deep cleaning loop: I’m still working on a looped schedule for this. Does anyone want me to post it when I’m done? Or do you not care? I’ll only post it if there’s a demand. This isn’t a scheduling blog, after all.

    On thing I like about this schedule was completely unintended. I ended up making something that is still doable (more or less) during our two weeks of daily swimming lessons. That shocks me! But since the lessons are later in the morning, I won’t have to do a ton of adjusting for those weeks, which is nice when it comes to habit training myself and others.

    What About the Afternoons?

    I have a few other requirements. A-Age-Nine needs 30 minutes of piano practice, and both girls need 20 minutes of reading. I suppose they could do those in the morning, if they want, but if not they will have to do it directly after lunch. I’m helping O-Age-Twelve learn to plan his own time, so that he can accomplish his own goals. For example, he wants to work on his Latin this summer. I’m going to print him out a copy of the loop schedule worksheet for his own use.

    For afternoons when we are home, I have loop schedules figured out for both writing and study. I’m behind on Latin, so I plan to cover that twice per week. I’ve got a conference talk to finish writing (which will require lots more study). Plus the blog (of course!) and other projects. I’ve never really tried to schedule a balance of writing and study or times for either, but rather fit them in along the way. This is new for me, but I expect it to be a benefit. We shall see. (Perhaps I’ll find flying by the seat of my pants more to my liking, after all. Ha!)

    What about you? Are you planning your summer?

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    1 Comment

  • Reply Five Steps to a Fabulous Summer Plan - Ed Snapshots May 19, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    […] Sum Sum Summer Plans – How Brandy used my homeschool planning kit and last year’s Summer Fun Binder to make a summer plan for her family. […]

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