It's summer. In theory, that means that I am leisurely sipping lemonade by the pool while the kids play together in a happy bliss-filled world. In reality, it means I'm negotiating another remote-control hostage situation and using my not-so-inside-voice to threaten the next person who leaves their dirty dishes/clothes/half-eaten sandwich on the living room couch. I need a way to survive the summer, and your typical summer reading program isn't going to cut it. I need real solutions.
Now don’t get me wrong. I dig the idea of a summer reading program. In fact, each year I plan it out. I print out reading logs and tell the kids to read for at least 30 minutes each day. It sounds quaint. It sounds doable. It sounds like a plan. And, it is all three of those. The problem is that there’s only so much motivation to be had from a free pizza or a certificate from the library. We need a better plan — a plan that will inspire us and get our summer mojo back. So this is how I’m surviving the summer without going stir-crazy.
4 Steps to Survive the Summer:
Step 1: Don’t Stop Learning
We school year-round, BUT we have a relaxed summer schedule. That means we cut out most of our normal routine and only focus on a few subjects. Maybe these are things we got behind on throughout the year. Maybe it’s a project we’ve been wanting to do but couldn’t fit in during the regular school year. Maybe it’s a subject that is “not our favorite” so we need to spread it out over a longer time. Maybe it’s catching up on reading (we are perpetual readers here, so any excuse to read a book is a good one). Whatever the case, we need to keep some sort of routine. We can’t just lay on the couch eating Doritos and watching Netflix all summer.
Step 2: Have a Plan
I LOVE TO SCHEDULE. In fact, I’m a habitual planner. I’m not saying you need a 6-page schedule of your summer. I’m saying have a general idea of what you would like your summer to look like. Every spring I make a general plan for what I want to get accomplished over the next eight-weeks of summer.
Example of my General Plan:
- Read Life of Fred with the youngest – I can never fit these in during the year, so they are a fun addition to the summer.
- Read Sonlight Summer Readers – Every year I purchase one or more of these sets. We have found some of our favorite books from these readers over the years. They are easy to toss in a basket for the kids to grab when it’s time to read.
- Do experiments with the teen – She loves creating concoctions, so we just keep adding fun experiments for her to do during the summer. It’s better than the alternative which involves random household chemicals and strange smells emanating from her bedroom.
- Field Trips – My number one reason for homeschooling was fieldschooling. Some field trips are best during the summer months like camping and beach excursions. We try to get in a few of those each summer.
- Swimming – The best form of physical education for my kids during the summer is swimming. They have a blast and don’t even realize they are exercising!
Step 3: Keep Things Low-Key
Even though I have a plan, I don’t make a strict schedule. It’s more of a relaxed routine. Instead of working through our day with blocks of time, I use more of a strewing method. Often the projects are left out in the dining room for the kids to work on at their leisure. (We should really change the name to the “project room” since the current map of Mordor doesn’t really fit the formal dining room motif.) Books are in a basket near the couch, so they are easy to find when we need quiet reading time.
Step 4: Create Inviting Outdoor Spaces
The summer is a perfect time to create fun outdoor learning spaces. My kids love to sit by the pool and read or find a comfy spot under a tree. Find an inviting space to enjoy the beautiful weather while learning.
I’m fully committing to this plan in the hope that my Utopian dreams of lounging by the pool with happy kids will come true. Impressively, they already grabbed the Sonlight summer readers from the box as soon as it was opened and started reading, so it’s looking good. Keep your fingers crossed!
If you want to get a head start on developing your summer survival plan, you can enter to win a set of the Sonlight Summer Readers below, and you can check out the lists for Elementary through High School, too.