My oldest attends school, so when summer arrives, I honestly panic. “Are there enough activities planned? How can I prepare him academically? Will he get bored and act out because there’s no consistent routine?” I’m sure there are other Mommas out there wondering similar things! The tricky thing about summertime is that I want my little man to have a break and have some fun, but I don’t want to abandon all sense of routine. Here are my tips that—hopefully—achieve a successful summer for kids that are school-aged.
Post a summer schedule in the house without time slots.
During the school year, everything is timed: eat breakfast and get dressed at this time, drop off at school at this time, and the list goes on. During the summer, have a schedule, but allow things to happen when they happen. Of course, you may need to schedule some things—like mealtimes—but allow for that typical summer fluidity to take place. My family’s summer schedule is below as an example (we obviously alter it for family events and this is just for the weekdays):
Breakfast/get ready for day
Family decade of rosary
Lunch followed by naptime
Dinner at 5:30
Bath/get ready for bed
Give an hour a day to actual learning.
In our home, the two little ones take a morning nap, and this is my time to sit down with the oldest and cover a topic. They can range from actual school subjects to life skills. Maybe we’ll play with his toy clock and tell time, practice handwriting skills in his workbooks, memorize phone numbers and dial them on a phone, bake something together and talk about measurements. I would highly suggest making a list of goals for the summer based on performance from the past school year. Do not stress about these goals! They should give you direction for your lessons, not push you to achieve them immediately.
Summer camp or sport.
Plan at least one activity for your little one to attend. The wonderful thing about summer camps during the day is that they give that sense of a school schedule without actually feeling like school. We have done swim camp and music camp. Research art camps, drama camps, or look for a sport through a park or gym. A lot of stores even offer classes and workshops for kids during the summer–check out Home Depot and craft stores (sometimes, they’re free!). If you cannot find a camp that suits your needs, maybe create your own at home!
Schedule something for the kids to look forward to. We love to go blueberry picking, watch fireworks on the Fourth of July, go to the park and the library, and vacation at the beach. Put these things on the calendar and build the excitement—you can even liken it to a family field trip. If you need to stay home for any reason, don’t let that stop you from planning things: do indoor camping with oven-made smores and a fort in the den, set up a sprinkler in the yard and blow bubbles, do some painting and create an “art museum” and invite family to tour the works of art.
This is where Pinterest could come in handy! My son’s behavior is tracked on a chart in his folder at school, but when he’s at home for the summer, we use a chart on a wall in his room. It starts off at the top with a clothespin with his name on it, and as it moves downward, certain privileges are taken away (such as video games or dessert after dinner). I also have a bag of marbles and if he has a good day, he gets to put a marble in a container with a picture of Jesus on it. The idea is that he gives his good days to Jesus and when the container fills up with marbles, he gets a little prize (I have a bag of treats hidden in a closet for such occasions—like little puzzles, toy cars, coloring books, etc).