Summer is almost upon us! For many homeschoolers this means a change of pace. Some will take a total break from schoolwork, while others will have a modified school schedule. There are also those who school full time, all year long, with breaks spaced throughout the year. May I encourage you to begin to pray and plan now for those summer hours so that you can maximize them.
I love to use this month of May to occasionally close my eyes for a few moments and ask the Lord what He desires for our summer. I will make lists of things I would like to accomplish, what I could do special with the children, areas of character growth I want extra teaching time in, and new tasks that I will train the children toward. If the Lord gives me a vision and goals for our summer, how will they be managed? I find that developing a summer schedule helps me to make the most of these precious summer days, without letting them slip by.
I like to schedule one hour per summer weekday for cleaning and organizing tasks that are too large to tackle during the school year. I keep a running list of these jobs as I come across them, usually when they have bothered me in some way. During May, I will also add to this list tasks I know I do during the summer. Here are a few of mine: organize and sort school work and school boxes, organize and mount photos in albums, clean all the closets and kitchen cupboards, organize book shelves in the basement, wash walls that really need it, and plan for the next school year!
This cleaning and organizing time ends after an hour whether I feel like I want to stop or not. It is amazing how much can be completed in just one hour! Often jobs are less daunting when we know they will only last for that one hour. This helps us be willing to jump in to tackle them.
In our home, we have older children play with the younger ones during cleaning time. With only little ones, it is more difficult to make this time productive, but it can still be done. Using an evening when Dad is around to watch the children is a possibility. If not that, then try working in an area where you can directly supervise the children.
It is also a good idea to assign the children their own age-appropriate cleaning and organizing chores for summertime. I would rather have their work scheduled for a different time than mine. This way I don’t have interruptions from them asking how to do the job or whether it passes inspection.
Often during the school year, I won’t have time to teach a child new chores. However, scheduling a half hour a day for this through the summer months is very practical. You could rotate children through this time, as most jobs won’t take more than five or ten minutes a day to learn. Usually a child is ready for new cleaning skills after a year of practicing the ones they learned the previous summer. When this is in our schedule, we are assured that the summer doesn’t pass by and all of a sudden we realize there have been no new practical skills learned.
Summer also lends itself to extra playtime and one-on-one time with my children. But do you know what happens if I don’t plan this into a written schedule? I will end up doing one of two things. I either keep busy with my own personal projects, or I sit and do nothing at all. This time with the children is very important to me, and when I put it into my schedule, I have the accountability of the children’s enjoyment of the time to hold me to it.
For our family, summer allows us to get a jump-start on our school year. We will continue with our reading and math so that we can take those subjects off on Fridays throughout the year. This helps give the children another constructive activity for their extra time, and it keeps their reading and math skills at peak performance. Fridays are looked forward to, almost as a weekly vacation day, because of the lighter school schedule.
Another high priority for summer hours in the Maxwell home is character and habit training. Here again, if the time isn’t set aside in our schedule, we will take the path of least resistance, and character won’t be a focus of our summer. The month of May is when I begin seeking the Lord for the areas in which we have the greatest need, and how we could spend a half hour a day tackling them. It usually isn’t difficult to come up with a character and habit training list with just a short amount of prayer. Once the list is generated, it is exciting to continue to pray about which Scripture, songs, stories, practice sessions, discipline, and reward system will best help us toward our goals.
Making a summer schedule will assure you that your summer days are maximized and that the hours are going toward the goals the Lord has called you to for this particular summer. I think you will discover your children have a more peaceful, productive summer with a schedule too. So often moms are ready for school to start again in the fall because of the chaos that results from the lack of structure without the school routine. Compensate for not having the school schedule by making and implementing a summer schedule. I think you will find it most worthwhile!