Summer begins tomorrow at 3:50pm. That’s when my kids will get off the bus for the last time this school year. These 1st and 3d graders will be burgeoning 2nd and 4th graders. Their final report cards will be in hand, giving final credence to months of hard (and not so hard) work, diligence and even some fun.
There have been science fairs, Fall fairs, recitals, soccer games, lacrosse games, book reports, behavior reports…lots of laughs, tears, outgrown running shoes and holey jeans…it’s amazing how much can fit into a school year.
And now, it’s (almost) summer. I have to admit, this time of year is always met with a whirl of trepidation and excitement. Trepidation because I’m a WAHM (work at home mom) and summer is a balancing act that quickly goes rusty when the kids are out of the house for 8 quiet hours a day. Excitement because these kids are awesome, and they get more and more interesting as they get older.
Bringing me to my point. Since they were toddlers, we’ve done something that we affectionately refer to as Summer Lessons. What it involves is the three of us sitting down on the first day of summer to plan one thing each week that we want to learn. For instance, one week could be all about The Seven Wonders of the World, and another can be the science of pizza. Fun stuff and most often, stuff they either touched on briefly at school, or that they haven’t yet learned (but want to). Typically, the schedule looks something like:
- Monday – Review the topic, hit the library for some resources (this year, they’re both getting their own cards)
- Tuesday – 1 hour together, researching book/online for something interesting
- Wednesday – Hands on/Field Trip
- Thursday – Pull it all together, put it into our Summer Folder
With the exception of the hands on/field trip, most of the days are no more than an hour or so, but it’s a great way to structure some time together. We don’t do a whole lot of screen time, so this is also a great way to give them purposeful time on the computer. And, it alleviates a little bit of my (unfounded) Mom Guilt because most of our summer involves me putting the kids outside to play and allowing them in for meals and bathroom…I grew up in small town Minnesota and am still a bit old school in the sense that a tired, dirty kid is the best kind of kid in the summer. They’ll still swim, go to camp, travel with the family – but this helps to break up the at-home, nothing-much-to-do days.
This year, I’m especially excited because for the first time, both kids read and write totally fluently, and both are very adept at using the computer. Plus, they’re interested in truly interesting topics. (How many years can you study dinosaurs??) Also, the rise of Pinterest makes this much more fun as well. We will probably toss some kind of cool craft into the mix – mainly for my daughter’s benefit – and I don’t know who these Pinterest people are (or where they find the time to post all that stuff), but they have some awesome ideas!
And along with the things we’re scheduling, the kids are going to run with me a couple times a week – Kilometer Kids has a fabulous training program. We’re going to do some Home Ec – it’s time they learn to cook some basics and keep their rooms clean (!!), and we’re going to do some budgeting so they become better at the spend/save/share model of personal finance.
If it sounds overly ambitious, have no fear. We’ve done this for seven years and at this point, the kids are so excited about it, they started asking about it and planning almost a month ago! This is quality time. Honestly, it doesn’t even really matter if they learn that much. It’s more about that distraction-free, focused hour (or so) when kids drive the agenda and I get to witness their growing intelligence and curiosity.
Share some of your thoughts about things you think kids might want to learn and do during the summer! I’ll be posting regularly throughout the summer about our topic for the week, and any particularly interesting nuggets. You’ll get credit if we use one of your ideas!