I don’t let myself plan for summer until a few things have happened. We have to have logged 165 days of school, I have to have finished all of my pre-reading for the rest of the year, and I have to have made my lists of what is left for us to finish in order to call it done for the school year. If I plan too early, it becomes a temptation to drop the balls I’m juggling — to finish poorly instead of sprinting across that finishing line. Planning is great — I love planning. And it’s for that reason that I don’t plan until I’m at a safe place. Because finishing well is just. that. important.
Last year was the first year that I planned very extensively for summer. Well, one summer, back when my oldest was seven, I planned a lot. And then our summer was destroyed beyond recognition. I suppose I was planning-shy for years after that.
It wasn’t until last year, when Pam debuted her free Summer Fun Binder printables, that I gave it a go.
Turns out, I love planning for summer, and Pam’s kit was super helpful! I’m using Pam’s printables again this year as well. (You can click here for Pam’s Plan Your Summer Kit — it’s free!)
Getting a Grip on the Big Picture
The three printable calendar months help me a whole big bunch. In fact, last year this was what I loved the most. Somehow, it gave me the visual I needed in order to plan well. Since I tend to view schedules the way a lot of people view space, keeping the schedule clutter-free is important to me. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t want a few well-chosen things. Looking at a month at a time, or mapping all three summer months out and lining them up in front of me, really helps me see if the schedule is too full, too empty, or just right.
The first thing I do, then, is sit down and write in all the things that are already planned. How do I know if I want to add more if I don’t even have a way to look at what is already happening for sure? I have to be able to see it. So I write in swimming lessons, music camp, whatever it is that is already on the calendar.
After that, I can add in some fun things, like a day at the beach or a park day with friends.
Making an Average Morning Chart
Average Day Charts are how I survive. Truly. I am inert when left to my own devices. Having a chart where I can ask the question “what next?” helps me oh so much. Whenever I haven’t bothered to do this — to define what the ideal day looks like to me — I’ve frittered my time away.
In the summers, I make Average Morning Charts. I guess I call it that in order to emphasize that most of the day truly belongs to the children.
This year, we are doing some things we’ve never done before, and some things we always do. For example: Circle Time. We always do a short Circle Time. (That time slot isn’t how long it really takes us — I always add in a bit of margin on charts like these.) We read a little Bible, continue a bit with our read aloud, and in summers I like to add a science selection. The big question I get about this is whether I require narration. I don’t. I do try to have good conversations with them, but I want this to feel more like family time than school.
For my little group, Circle Time is still the best way to start our days, even in the summer time. It gives the children something good or true or noble or interesting to think about for the rest of the day.
We’re doing a bit of school this summer, more than we’ve ever done before. There are a couple reasons for this.
In regard to my oldest, I think there is danger in teens having too much free time on their hands. It isn’t that we’re having any trouble with our son, but rather that I think part of the transition to adulthood involves summers with more structure and responsibilities in them.
So, he’s continuing with math. He’s also preparing for a Latin class he’ll be taking in the fall (more about that some other time) that is supposed to require about an hour a day. In the summer, he’ll spend thirty minutes on the average day. In addition to this, we’re a bit behind on Grammar of Poetry, and so we’ll do a lesson a week of that until we complete it.
My girls are continuing with MEP because during the year I’ve only required math four days per week. MEP is written to be five days per week, and so we easily have a month left at the end of the school year by doing it that way. Including math most days should prevent summer slide while allowing us to continue to skip math on Fridays. Having a very different kind of day on Fridays has been huge for us, and it isn’t something I want to give up, so this is how we manage it.
And then there is my youngest guy. He’s doing a bit of math in the summer because he loves math and fights with me if I say there is no math. So we do math. Sigh. The other thing we’re doing is his phonics lessons, and that’s because I want him reading as well as possible when we start the school year. To be honest, it’ll be too easy for me to skip phonics lessons in the fall when it’s so busy, and so I want to make hay while the sun shines, as they say.
One last thing about these charts: we do not do this every single day. It’s summer, after all. So if we’ve planned a morning at the park, or the children have swimming lessons, we might do some of it, or we might do none of it. The chart is just so that the days we spend entirely at home have some structure and direction.
I’m mainly mentioning these because people ask me about them a lot. I have a vacuuming loop schedule, a deep cleaning loop schedule, and also a cooking helper loop schedule. I wrote about all of these last year, and I’ve modified them a bit (mainly shuffling jobs around) so that I can use them again this summer.
Don’t Forget Your Summer Movie Nights
We do hardly any screen time as a general rule (there is no TV in our living room), but in the summers, I love to plan movie nights. This is a special privilege our children gain when they turn seven. Years ago, we started what we call the 7Up Club. This is for all the children 7 or older. As the years went by, we added an 11Up Club (population one at the moment) because our oldest was ready for some movies that weren’t appropriate for the younger children. Basically, the girls still pick movies like A Little Princess while E-Age-13 is excited to watch Thor.
What’s something special you are planning for this summer?
Get the (almost) weekly digest!
Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.