Listen. I love summer. I love the absence of a schedule, the later bedtimes and… bless it… the lack of homework. If it was up to me, we would lounge around in caftans all day and not pick up a pencil until the first day of school. Alas, I’ve learned that my kids need to stay somewhat engaged with learning in the summer months and that a little structure does a lot of good. I also need them to help out around the house because we all know things get crazy with kids home all day!
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A Little List
My kids work well off of lists. Sure, they complain… but then they start working on the tasks I’ve laid out for them. I like to use small dry erase boards to make a list of a few tasks for them each day. I put these at their homework desks which are just off our kitchen.
In the evenings I make their lists for the next day. That way, I can linger in bed a little longer the next morning and they know what is expected of them when they wake up. These lists include:
A household chore or two
A little bit of learning
Writing a letter to a specific person, or a person of their choice
An assigned amount of reading
The household chore can be anything, any time. They are not on any kind of a rotation, but based on what would help me most! These tasks are anything from unloading the dishwasher to cleaning your entire room.
In addition to a chore or two that seems pressing to me that day, I ask them to do a little “school” work. I like these workbooks for summer learning and teachers have recommended these to me as well. They are grade-specific and should only take about 15 minutes per day.
I also love to have my kids write letters on summer days. This keeps them writing and using those skills, but also is a blessing to friends and family. I print out an easy-to-read list of addresses of family members and friends for them to use. The best part is that as the letters start going out, they soon start coming back in! The recipients are always eager to return the favor and that means a mailbox surprise for the kids. We write great grandparents, cousins, and friends who have moved away. Before the kids could read and write, I had them color pictures to send in the mail.
At our spring conferences I always ask our teachers what they recommended for the summer. Without fail, they always say KEEP READING! I ask my kids to read for at least 20 minutes per day and often we do this as a family after dinner. Trips to the library help keep our reading options fresh.
Once their lists are complete for the day, they are expected to go outside and play!
Limiting Screen Time
I feel like most parents these days are fighting the battle against too much screen time. Here is how I structure this in the summer:
We use this device to filter content and limit time online. I cannot recommend it enough.
We are declaring no screen time (TV, iPads, or video games) before 3 o’clock in the afternoon. If my kids start their day on screens, they are often grumpy and reluctant to do much. I like to encourage them to get things done, be active, be outdoors, then enjoy screens when we need a little afternoon rest.
This year I’m adding “Technology-Free Tuesdays” which is an idea from an Instagram friend. Y’all… I can’t wait
I’m the first to admit that I’m a bad play-date mom. I really just love being at home with my kids all to myself. However, we do love our friends and want to open our home to others. So, this year I’m launching “Friend Fridays” where each kid can pick a friend to come over and play. I think this will be a real blessing. Picking one day simplifies things and we will be sure to have plenty of snacks and fun waiting.
Fruits of the Spirit
I did this years ago and I’m eager to do it again. We take the Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5 and focus on one each week throughout the summer. It’s noting too involved, but I purchased these printable scripture cards to help keep us on track. We will read the corresponding verses and try to look for ways to practice each fruit that week. It’s a helpful reminder to everyone in our household.
With all of this in place, we still have plenty of time for our favorite summer activities: trips to the pool, lounging on the porch, playing outside and eating dinner outdoors. It’s going to be here so quickly and I can’t wait!