What is there not to love about summer? Warm weather, long days, no school or practices, outdoor fun and the beach. It also means less structure, kids home all day and endless cries of "I'm bored."
The trick is to create just enough structure and activity to keep everyone occupied and still make it fun and somewhat carefree. Setting up a summer schedule is a perfect way to create that balance. Getting organized and being prepared before that dismissal bell can make all the difference.
When our kids were small we displayed a colorful poster with our summer schedule on the fridge. This helped the kids keep track of what would be happening on a daily basis.
Start each day with a devotional. Include such things as a song, a scripture story or spiritual thought, and a prayer. Let the kids take turns leading this each day. Older kids can present the story or thought. It is a wonderful way to begin each day.
Make sure each child keeps us with their daily tasks of contributing to the family home. Things like make beds, pick up toys and help with dishes. It also may be a good time to teach a new skill such as laundry or window washing.
To help kids keep their brains sharp and not lose their hard-earned knowledge of the past year, have each of your kids work on a learning skill for about 15 minutes a day. This could be in a workbook, on a website or a notebook they make. Things like practicing handwriting, math skills or reading. We often had reading charts where they recorded the number of books read. They each received a reward after reading a specified number of books.
Theme for the Week
Let your creative side come out for this. Pick a theme such as The Ocean, ABCs, Space, Camping, etc. Then select stories or books that tie into the theme. Also find outings that relate as well. Go to tide pools when learning about the ocean, or a planetarium when learning about space. Also prepare snacks that match up as well. Blue jello with gummy fish is a great snack for the ocean. Bugs on a Log (raisins on peanut butter filling in celery) go great with insects.
Every child needs time in the summer to think, to create, to play, to be alone. Have items available to make crafts or puzzles and games. But let them choose and don't hover. If they choose to just sit and daydream that is just fine too.
If there is a baby or toddler in the house this probably is a necessity. But just as we all need free time, we all need time to slow down, relax and just be. Naps, a short movie or reading would all be good activities for this time.
This may be only one day of the week and it may take up the entire day. The point is to get out and see and do something different. It may be a hike in a nature park, a museum, the community pool or the beach. Make it fun and exciting.
Remember to be flexible. A schedule is just to keep your family from slipping into complete laziness. If an opportunity comes to do something fun and spontaneous, go with it. Those are the ones that make the best memories. Keep this thought in mind: "Because it's summer and the memories are just waiting to happen." (Unknown)