For many of us, our normal school year is ending with summer bringing a change of pace. Some will take a complete break from any kind of structured learning. Then there may be moms who will have a light school load during the summer weeks. Others may be planning to continue school through the summer. During our eighteen years of homeschooling experience, I have discovered the direction, productivity, and peace a summer schedule brings to our home.
One of the top priorities for my summer schedule will be to help my children manage their time usage. We have found that children left day after day having “nothing” to do generates a multitude of problems. Not the least of these problems is the proverbial, “Mom, I am bored. There’s nothing to do.” I will plan our summer schedule to prevent this. Our children bicker more when left to their own devices all day. They also are more prone to get into things they aren’t supposed to do. Again, our summer schedule will alleviate these difficulties before they arise.
I will include each child in our summer schedule. Steve and I evaluate how much free time we think the children can handle well. We want summer to be a break from their normal school schedule and workload. At the same time, we want to fill some of their summer hours productively.
The children’s schedules will include personal Bible time for those old enough to read their Bibles and have a prayer time. Music practice is scheduled. We like for them to keep up their math skills, so most summers they continue doing a math lesson each day. They may also have other academic work scheduled that doesn’t involve my time such as typing and handwriting. Daily chores are scheduled. If there are any major projects to be accomplished, they will have some time dedicated to those.
Summer is the perfect time to schedule in those activities you always want to do with the children but never have the available time. I make it a priority to put in the children’s schedule and in my schedule time to read out loud. I also want to have individual time with each child at least weekly. Simply include a block of time in the summer schedule and make a list of what you want to do with the children. When we have a schedule in place, this assures that I don’t allow myself to be consumed with my personal projects, putting off time I want to spend with the children.
If your child has an area of academic need, scheduling a block of time to work on it during the summer is perfect. Generally, summer days afford the extra hours required to give individual attention in a specific school area. A child who doesn’t yet know his basic math facts could spend a few minutes every day doing drills on the computer, on paper, and orally. Writing projects could be tackled knowing there is time to write, revise, and polish them.
As you can see, the children’s scheduled activities nicely fill several hours each day. This still allows them to have a great deal of time to play, help others, or pursue their own interests. However, we have easily avoided the pitfalls that come from a summer overloaded with free days.
A priority for my summer schedule will be cleaning and organizing time. There is a host of cleaning projects for which there is simply not time during the school year. I look forward to knocking these out during the summer. My procrastinating nature can easily put these off, though, if I don’t have a place in my schedule for them. I love to have two hours a day for these projects but most years I can only squeeze out an hour.
Here is a list of what I will do each summer:
- Pack away school books and school work
- Clean kitchen cupboards
- Clean refrigerator
- Organize and work in storage room
- Clean and organize every closet
- Put photos in albums
- Plan and prepare for upcoming school year
- Clean windows
A number-one priority for my summer schedule is preparations for the next school year. This will take up a big chunk of my scheduled cleaning and organizing time. My excitement for a new school year is partially dependent on how prepared I am for it. Using summer for this planning allows me get my school schedule worked out. I can have all the children’s books and materials prepared and ready. I am able to order anything I realize we need but haven’t purchased yet. I can clean out and reorganize areas of the house dedicated to school materials. This time allows me to be physically, emotionally, and mentally prepared for the new school year.
You wouldn’t believe what can be accomplished through the course of the summer by simply tackling cleaning and organizing for an hour a day. I can never remember not getting through my “to do” list by the end of the summer. Often, I have to come up with additional jobs that weren’t on my original list because I have more time than projects. Beware, though. The key for me has been to stop my cleaning or organizing when the scheduled time is completed. That way I don’t impact other scheduled activities. I also don’t burn out by getting too tired. Hour by hour, your projects will be accomplished.
Some may have a garden that needs extra attention through the summer. Remember to put time in your and your children’s schedule for these gardening jobs. Schedule in time for any large projects that you would like to accomplish during the summer.
In setting up my summer schedule, the most important part is prayer. I want to make sure the activities put in the schedule for me and for each of the children are what the Lord wants us to do. I also desire to put the amounts of time into each task that would be honoring to the Lord. The Lord has called each member of our family to follow and serve Him. Our schedule is to be a tool to help in this.
There will be days you don’t use your schedule for one reason or another. Perhaps you decide to have a spur-of-the moment trip to the park for a picnic and playtime. Then you will probably use your schedule until time to prepare for the outing and decide what the priorities are for the remaining day when you return home. Other days you will be away from home all day. Your schedule should make these days more enjoyable because your daily tasks will be current. Catching up for the day or days away won’t be stressful. Let your schedule help you enjoy that trip to the park, visit to the zoo, or cookie baking day.
I want to encourage you to consider making and using a schedule to help you meet your goals and desires for the summer. Some structure to summer days ensures that they will be peaceful and productive. You won’t enter your new school year disappointed that the summer weeks slipped by without you or your children accomplishing what you had hoped to do. A daily schedule is a productive instrument we can benefit from making and then using.