Summer is finally here! We’ve made it through the school year, and now it’s time for some R&R… at least that is my kids’ theory.
Summer was originally designed to allow students to explore other interests, whether that’s sports, or art, or anything really. However, I’m seeing more and more kids sleeping in, playing on their tablets and rarely walking outside or picking up a book. Additionally, our kids’ are losing some of the knowledge they learned this school year. Did you know that statistically a student loses two to three months of reading skills and two months of math skills while on summer vacation? That’s almost a quarter of the school year…gone.
For the first time as a parent I am lucky enough to work from home during the summer. Which means I am now in control of our kids summer. No more hoping a babysitter will play outside with them or work on their summer packets. This year, I get to help and get to enjoy summer with the kids!
The goal is to keep the kids off the couch and have them exploring those new interests mentioned above. Plus, I want to make sure they don’t experience a learning gap this summer and lose that knowledge they worked hard for during the school year. The way I plan to achieve these goals is with a schedule and a calendar of events. I know it seems “old school” but it works!
Keep in mind; I want this summer to be fun and to be relaxing. I also want the summer to be productive and a learning experience for the kids and myself. Also, I do have a full time job working from home. Some of these time gaps do reflect hours I have conference calls or need to focus on work.
8:00-9:30am: Wake Up, Breakfast, Get Dressed, Morning Chores
9:30-11:30am: Free Time (Play in rooms, play a game, watch TV, play on tablets)
11:30-1:00pm: Lunch Time (Play outside afterwards)
1:00-2:00pm: School Work (1 math sheet, 1 writing sheet, read for 20 minutes)
2:00-4:00pm: Play Outside/Activity
4:00-5:00pm: Afternoon Chores
I have this schedule laminated and hanging on the fridge. That way when the kids ask if it’s lunchtime I can direct them to the schedule. Also, we have a lot of kids in our neighborhood. This schedule helps our kids to know when they can play with friends, even if a neighbor rings the doorbell.
I wanted to keep the kids’ busy with both low-key activities as well as physical activities. I tried to mix it up each week so nothing is repeated, becoming boring. Lastly, I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg to keep the kids busy. It’s ok if we spend some money, since we are saving a boatload not sending the kids to a sitter.
- Library – The local library has a lot of activities for school age children, all for free. Our kids are enrolled in Lego Club (groups complete a building project in groups), Cute Critters (the zoo and area petting zoos bring small animals to show and tell), Summer Reading Club (earn prizes for reaching your reading goals).
- Church – The church we attend has a kids’ play place with tunnels and slides indoor and a café to order lunch. There is free Wi-Fi so I can set up my laptop and let the kids run and play for an hour. We can pack a lunch, or we can eat at the café.
- Day Camp – There are plenty of options for camps around town. The YMCA has a day camp for kids to go hang out and play all day, plus there are many options for sports camps. We opted for a sports camp for each child. The high school here in town puts on a weeklong camp by the high school students for both baseball and soccer. The cost considerably less than the Y plus we felt the kids would have more fun doing a sport rather than just playing indoor or outdoor.
- Community Pool – This year we decided to get a family pool pass for our community pool. My husband gets off work at 2pm everyday and this is a great way to keep the kids active. Once a week Trent takes the kids to the pool from 2:30pm until 4pm. It’s free now that we paid for the pass, and most of their friends from school are there too.
- Swim Lessons – With our pool pass we are eligible to enter the kids into swim lessons. They are a discounted price with our pass, and a great way to keep the kids active and safe.
- Summer Packets – Before school ended I asked each teacher for ideas on a summer work packet. These packets should be for review of the school year, not to teach them new things. I was able to gather worksheets the kids have already done in class as well as find similar sheets they haven’t seen before. We have enough work in each packet to do one math sheet and one writing sheet everyday this summer.
- Park – To help the kids work on science I searched Pinterest for different science experiments and nature activities. I found wonderful sheets including nature scavenger hunts, stars and plant maps, and so many more. We purchased some toys the kids would enjoy using at the park including binoculars, a net, a bug housing kit, an inexpensive telescope and some water shoes for the creek. We plan to spend time creeking, hiking, and looking at the stars this summer as part of our hands-on science learning.
- Downtime – There of course will be days when the weather isn’t cooperating, or someone isn’t feeling well. I invested in some quiet games: Guess Who, Connect Four and Checkers. I also bought a couple of puzzles that the kids could put together upstairs in the play area. These allow the kids to be inside but it will also be quiet enough for me to get some work done.
- Zoo – We have had zoo member passes since our kids were little. It’s an investment up front, but we pay for the pass with as little as 3 visits in a year. With school field trips, member’s only events and more, we usually go once a month in the spring/summer/fall and once or twice on a nice day in the winter.
- Field Trips – Once a month I want to get the kids out for a fun trip… it’s summer after all! These would be more expensive outings and probably include lunch or a small gift. Some ideas would be; an amusement park, the movies, a museum, local baseball or sporting event, etc.