Tag Archives: Summer

Five Tips To Make a Homeschool Mom’s Summer More Productive

This month’s Corner is written by Sarah, my oldest daughter. Sarah grew up in a homeschooling family, has helped countless homeschooling moms, and observes her homeschooling sisters-in-law. She has a wealth of practical homeschool experience to offer. Sarah graduated from our homeschool in 2000 and loves to serve in the Titus2 ministry. Teri

Summer is here, well, not officially according to the calendar, but school is out, and the temperatures are heating up, so it feels like summer. I want to share some tips from our family’s personal experiences that could help make your summer more productive. I remember looking forward to our summer homeschool break and the variety in activity that it afforded us. We were always excited about what Mom had in store for those summer months.

Plan a Summer Schedule

Plan a summer schedule! “Why would I do that?” you might ask. “Isn’t summer meant to be free time without any structure?” Have you noticed how your children act without a guideline for their day? Don’t they seem to get in trouble, say they’re bored, or fight with their siblings? Having a schedule will alleviate that, give them purpose, and you peace. If you have teenage children, let them have input into their schedules and how they’d like their day set up. I enjoyed plotting my schedule. Be creative.

Change out chores and train the children in new ones since you have more time to do that. Wouldn’t you love to move through summer without having to wince every time you walk by the laundry room? With a schedule, you’ll keep up with a clean house and folded laundry and a whole lot more! A side benefit will be pleasing your husband. What guy likes to come home to an unkempt house with bickering children and a crying wife?

Back to the schedule. Maybe you have a child who has a special interest or talent in an area like art, writing, handyman work, or sewing. Scheduling in an hour a day for them to devote to that will help both of you to see if it’s something they want to keep pursuing during the school year.

Write Out a List of Projects You’d Like to Accomplish

Do you have dreams of getting to those projects that bug you, but you just don’t have time for? Write out a list of those projects, and make it your summer goal. Maybe your husband has mentioned several things he’d like to see you do, and you’ve never made it happen (i.e: the kids’ winter boots that are stacked up in the garage doorway, the front flower bed needs weeding). Now is the time. Write those on your list, and you’ll have a very happy husband when they’re done!

My mom loved summer because it afforded her opportunities to do things she normally didn’t have time for such as putting photos in albums, deep cleaning the refrigerator, polishing cabinets, and a host of other things. How did she manage to do that with little ones underfoot? At that point, I was in my teens, and she scheduled me to take the five younger ones on a walk right after breakfast and then to play with them outside. That gave her an hour to do things on her list, and an hour a day netted her a mostly-completed list by the end of summer (I think sometimes her lists exceeded her time!). If you don’t have a child old enough to watch the others, consider having them spend that time in a safe environment like their room with special toys or books.

Schedule Some School

Even if you’re one of those who would prefer summer to be kept without school, consider how scheduling 1-2 hours a day could help you. For us, if we did some school, it kept our skills current in weak or hard subjects, instead of trying to jump back in with cold feet in the fall. It also allowed us to have a more relaxed schedule in the school year itself and even time off for a family vacation in September when places weren’t crowded. School each day kept us occupied in the hotter parts of the day, when being outside playing wasn’t much of an option.

Spend Dedicated One on One Time with Your Children

What better use of your summer hours than to spend them with your children? Regardless of their age (toddler to teen!), plan a regular time at least once a week to spend one on one. Consider letting them pick what they want to do. Your little boys might want you to build a Lego fort, and you might find you’re better at it than you thought. Or, your little girl might love for you to play dolls. When was the last time you played dolls?! Perhaps your teenage girl would like to bake something or go shopping (in the evening when your husband is home and can watch the others). I heard my sister-in-law was doing one on one time with her girls this summer, and Friday night they were happily talking about what Mommy did with them that week.

Make It Great

Whether it’s a spontaneous trip to the zoo, a picnic at the park, hiking at a state park, an overnight camping trip when Dad’s home, or simply making sugar cookies and decorating them together, use summer as a time to make the best memories possible. Remember, your schedule is your tool. So use it when you can, and on those days when you go to the zoo or do some other outing, don’t worry, and have peace knowing you’ll get back on track the next day.

Instead of allowing the summer to overtake you with stressful times, be determined to make it your most productive summer yet. The result? Happy kids + productivity + a pleased husband = a joyful YOU.

Serving Jesus,
Sarah Maxwell

Summer Schedules and Chores

With the beginning of June upon us, a significant number of families will have different schedules and many hours to invest in activities other than school. The summer months afford us an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate children’s chore assignments and teach them new chore skills. It is also helpful to develop a schedule so we can accomplish all that is a priority for the summer.

When we assign our children chores, we don’t want to have to redo the chore plan until the following summer when we once again have the time to tackle it. During the summer my homeschooling hours are freed up for other projects and redoing the chore assignments will be at the top of the list.

We are particularly interested in evaluating whether older children are ready to learn some new chores while passing on a few of their well-practiced ones to younger siblings. It is also the chance to trade older-children jobs around so that each child learns every chore, becoming accomplished in it. Remember from the Holly Homemaker series having a clean home is only a part of why chores are important to us. We also want our children to learn skills that will facilitate their adult years. If a child knows how to clean the bathroom but not how to do the laundry, then we haven’t done our job as parents.

Scheduling Chore Time

Since revising the chore assignments is important to me, I put it into a summer schedule. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We know that many who use schedules decide to eliminate the schedule for the summer, and that’s fine if that is the family’s choice. However, we have regularly heard from families who make that decision, but then are disappointed with their summer. Why are they disappointed?

They are disappointed because the activities that they planned to do and that were a priority for their summer weeks didn’t end up being accomplished. The children fussed and bickered with each other because of the lack of direction in their days. The time seemed to be filled with chaos, disorganization, and frustration. The family looks back over their summer days with dissatisfaction rather then the sense of fulfillment they were looking forward to in the beginning. After a summer with these results, they decide to return to a summer schedule the following year.

There are many things one can put into a summer schedule. It is helpful to begin the scheduling process by a family discussion and planning time. What are the priorities for family time and individual time?

If the family is homeschooling, summer allows us to do two or three hours of homeschooling a day while still leaving much of the day for other activities. With those two or three hours, the children’s day is more easily filled productively. Younger children will maintain the reading and math skills they are just beginning to learn. Older children can work ahead for the upcoming school year, which means there can be more flexibility in the normal school schedule. If a child had difficulty in an area or a subject, emphasis can be placed on that. Perhaps there are studies that simply haven’t fit into the school schedule because of higher school-time priorities. Summer will nicely accommodate those studies while still leaving plenty of hours for non-school related activities.

Organizing During the Summer

Maybe there is household organizing and cleaning to be taken on during the summer. Time can be placed into the schedule for that. Organizing fits well even into a half hour or an hour time slot. For many years when my children were younger, I did all my major cleaning and organizing tasks during a short little half hour each summer day. I gave one of the older children the responsibility of playing with his younger siblings for that half hour. I kept a running list through the rest of the year of projects and cleaning that were too time consuming for my normal daily schedule. Those were what I worked on during that half hour in the summer. I was always delightedly amazed at all I could get done when I applied myself for just one half hour a day. Not only can Mom get her de-junking accomplished, but the older children can as well.

In the schedule, we put in time for me to make us the new chore system and to implement it. After making the chore assignments, it will take my time to teach the older children their new jobs. If I have it as part of the daily schedule, I am most likely to actually get it done. The older children can teach the younger children the chores that they are handing down to them, but again, there needs to be time set aside in the schedule to do this.

It is also helpful to me to check the children’s daily chores until they become proficient at what they are doing. When I used to try to work the checking into an open spot in the day, I usually didn’t. However, when I started putting “check chores” as a short time block on my schedule, I became successful in the consistency that was important.

We want our children learning how to work, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Summer days give me the time to invest in their lives by working out the chore system, teaching the children how to do their chores, and then holding them accountable for what they did. Without the hours of homeschooling, my summer days maintain a more relaxed pace so that I have the freedom to spend in this beneficial pursuit.

Perhaps a summer schedule and a redefined chore system sounds like something you would want to see as a part of your summer but you don’t know where to start or how to go about it. We have two resources available to help you. Managers of Their Homes gives information and step-by-step-directions for setting up a daily schedule. If you would like to implement a successful chore system, we would suggest Managers of Their Chores as a tool to help you in that direction. We want to encourage you to ensure that you have something to show for your summer weeks and do not arrive at September with discouragement. Perhaps a summer schedule and a revised chore system will help you toward that goal.

Benefits of Summer Scheduling

One of the main cries of my heart to homeschooling moms is to encourage them to use a daily schedule. Scheduling is at the heart and soul of what has made our home and homeschool successful. I find I have to proclaim the joys of scheduling from the rooftops from time to time, especially after having regular e-mails from struggling homeschooling moms.

With the freedom from school hours that summer brings for many homeschool families comes the ability to fit in many new activities, projects, and tasks. What I have also discovered comes with my summer release from school responsibility is a propensity to laziness and self-focus. Those looked-forward-to free hours fritter away day by day, week by week. When school starts again, I look back on my summer with a heart filled with regrets and if only’s.

The solution the Lord has given me is to use my schedule to help productively use my summer hours and my children’s. I still have freedom from the school responsibility and hours. However, I will accomplish all those tasks and goals that I anticipated through the school year. I can pray about my summer schedule, seeking the Lord’s guidance for priorities. Then I discuss the schedule possibilities with my husband to get his direction for how my summer should be spent plus what we want the children to do with their time.

Two years ago, I wrote a Mom’s Corner on summer schedules. I am not going to repeat that information, but I would encourage you to read that article. I also suggest you read this Mom’s Corner about children and chores during the summer.

I wanted to give you some other thoughts regarding summer schedules from those who have begun implementing this idea in their homes. These suggestions from other homeschooling moms will give you motivation for your summer scheduling, plus some great ideas.

From: Mom A
There have been only a few summers in our past that we did not do school. The summers that we took a real “break” were freeing, BUT the short-lived freedom was not worth it in the long run.

It may have been glorious at the moment, but …

1) it took us FOREVER to get back into the swing of things once we did begin.
2) one of my children seemed to forget every item learned the previous year, which meant a LOT of review when we began.
3) the first day we started, I felt behind already!
4) the mind is a great thing to waste; no school meant more TV when it was too hot to play outside.
5) without a focus or a sense of accomplishing something, we were floating around aimlessly.
6) due to the mental laziness, NOTHING got done that year.
7) I spent more money that summer due to being out and about so much, which caused guilt on my part of not being a frugal helpmeet, and then the guilt snowballed into a fear of turning into the worst wife in the world.
8) we ate a lot of fast food since I was too lethargic from all my remorse to cook consistently.

IT WAS A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE TO NOT DO SOME SCHOOL DURING THE SUMMER! I’m sure that you gathered this already! I have our summer schedule for this year already written out and discussed with my children!!

From: Mom B
We schedule gardening in 30 minutes segments. One in the morning after the daily housework is done, about 9:30, and one right after quiet time, at 3:30. We usually start school at 10:00 if we are doing school, and if we are on summer break they do just handwriting or copy work, nature journals and arts and crafts kind of things. They usually play from 11:15 to 12:30 before lunch, and 4:30 to 6:00 before supper.

My children like it when I read to them after lunch and again before bedtime. If I were going to include learning a language, it would probably be in the afternoon as part of their quiet time, maybe using a computer program or tapes. This would be after they had some quiet reading time in their own room.

From: Mom C
To homeschool to enjoy the summer, I use the same exact principles as I do for a “regular” schedule. I decide when and how long to “school,” then I am done. I decide when and how long to garden, etc. I give what I want to do a slot, and I faithfully do what I scheduled. Then by the summer’s end, I will feel as if I have accomplished what I really wanted to, instead of feeling as if the time was wasted. I LOVE having a summer schedule in place. It really can be a time to accomplish a lot. Our reading quiet times are before bed and before baby’s naptime.

From: Mom D
We have a summer schedule with chores, Bible reading (God doesn’t take the summer off), and an hour or more of school. Usually everyone does math, and then the children work in whatever subjects they are poor in. For some, that may be just practicing their reading. For others, they have to repeat a course they did poorly in. We spend 60 minutes per day in the garden, usually early in the day. I leave the afternoons unscheduled. We still do weekly projects, but they are usually outside work. We keep the school-year rules of only 30 minutes of computer per day, which they have to earn by doing a typing lesson first and not scoring below a set level of words/errors per minute.

Buy board games, and provide arts and crafts supplies. At our home if the children say, “I’m bored” or something equivalent, they get a job from the project list. If they act like they are at loose ends, I suggest something fun or creative. The suggestion MUST be taken and usually after the first few minutes, they get into it and enjoy themselves. This has taught them all to be productive and not to mope around or Mom finds them something to do.

From: Mom E
We do school in the summer but only the things we think the children need extra work in, like handwriting, or things they really enjoy, like reading. We also do math facts practice so they don’t forget it over the summer. All of that probably takes about 20 minutes. We are doing our state history this summer just to prevent the day being too long during the regular year. We also do Bible every day whether we do school or not. Each person also has time for individual time in the Word each day.

I’m filling up our schedule with things like gardening, project time, playing outside, computer time, educational games, time with each parent, time with each other (we have 2 children) and time spent playing alone. We recently discovered that our eleven-year-old couldn’t play alone. He is the younger of the two and had never had to play by himself. He had no idea what to do, so we added alone time each day to his schedule so he can learn to play or work on his own.

Once we add in daily and weekly chore times and piano practice, our schedule is pretty full. Of course, we do have meal times, family time, and family devotions each day as well.

From: Mom F
We plan on having our regular morning routine this summer, which includes: Wake, dress, groom, daily chores, breakfast, and cleanup. Then we will have our Bible time and an hour of “school.” We are going to do reading, educational games, and math drills. I plan on having the older children help me with the younger ones for activities such as listening to them read and playing games with them. After this time, they will get outside time until lunch. After lunch, we will have rest and reading time, and then I plan to have a project time. They will get free time again until supper.

Do you see how these moms are using their schedules to make sure they are having productive summers? I love the change of pace our summer months provide. However, I dislike looking back on those weeks and feeling they were wasted. A schedule gives us freedom: freedom to accomplish what the Lord wants me and my children to do with those summer hours. From reading about how these other moms are using their summer schedules, I believe you will glean ideas for your own schedule. I encourage you to make a summer schedule. If you need help with how to schedule, the Managers of Their Homes book is a how-to primer on scheduling for homeschool families, including a chapter on summer scheduling. Use your summer schedule to be profitable with your summer days. Look back on those weeks with no regrets.

A Summer Schedule

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.