Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Capitalizing on summer

Summer provides a number of unique opportunities if we don't let these months slip by without our attention. Two to three months is quite a big chunk of time and around our house we enjoy using these days in a variety of ways . . .

Catching up -- May seems to end up one of our busiest months. Baseball, a birthday, end of school events, planting, etc. This requires that the first weeks of our summer get our life and house back in order. Some years hit worse than others, but we always need at least a week to reset our lives to our comfort zones.

Big projects -- At some point in the summer I try to tackle some of those bigger projects that keep lingering on my to-do list. Cleaning out a closet, the file cabinets, book cases, defrosting the freezer, etc. I've already tackled a few of these this year, and just have a couple more in my scope.

Planning -- Some things cannot be planned for in advance. If I take care of as much as I can, we can flex when we need to for those sometimes fun, sometimes heartbreaking incidents that punctuate our year, without letting them puncture it.

Each summer I evaluate our homeschool, set goals, rearrange schedules, check lists, plan lessons, clean out files, etc., etc. I always feel like I could take another few months off and still have a list to keep me busy, but summer down time does get us back on track and holds us there at least some of the year.

Problem areas -- We have resumed a light school schedule after a couple weeks off, but this isn't "required" time. I can use it to really hone in on areas that need some attention.

For example, my fifth grader could speed up her multiplication facts, my third grader needs to improve her word attack skills and review some phonics, my seventh grader struggles with creative writing assignments, and my five year old is chomping at the bit to learn to read independently. So, those are our summer goals.

It is wonderful to have time and energy to make these priorities rather than cram them into already full days of school. In just a week I have seen dramatic improvement in almost all these areas, and we have another 4-5 weeks before we really start school again.

Unit studies or fun topics -- Every day of school so much HAS to get done. Math, reading, English, Bible, History, science, handwriting, P.E., spelling. And then all we want to cover: Spanish, Latin, Public Speaking, typing, music, read alouds, nature studies, Shakespeare, Art, field trips.

I could never squeeze in all the extra-extras that I still want added. So, we jump on those in the summer. Right now the kids are really enjoying a little mini-unit on law and our judicial system. Some days we have a mock trial, some days read a scenario and discuss it from a legal standpoint. I cannot believe how much they are into this. Every day they ask, "Are we doing law today?"

Only in the summer months do we have time for these little diversions. During the school year we might be able to take an afternoon here or there to explore something, but not with the depth or time that we have right now.

Fun, relaxation, and relationships -- Most of the time that we have to squander in the summer I like to spend on recharging emotionally and spiritually for the year ahead. Bonding with the kids, making snow cones while the kids splash in the pool, sharing dreams, talking past bedtime, building a campfire in the backyard, family outings, marveling at nature, and occasionally NOTHING!

So many ways to use these summer days. Whether your ideal is busy, productive hours, or losing track of time by the pool, I pray you are making the most of these days with your kids.

They pass too quickly, and you know you won't get a redo.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Some of my favorite memories from childhood are in the summer. In the midst of planning, cleaning, cooking etc.. we get to do a lot of fun stuff. I like to think of all the memories we are making with our children. It goes by too fast.