One year I was picking up my kids on the last day of school. I opened all my minivan windows and blasted the song from High School Musical called “School’s Out”!! The older kids were a little embarrassed but the little guys loved it!! I wanted my kids to know I was so happy for a break from the grind; get up, get dressed, eat, get your homework done, go to bed, repeat!” I was also excited to have them home more! I looked forward to summer vacation as much as they did!
Here are 5 things to help you be excited for school to be out:
1) Spend time to observing areas of growth and what we need to focus on. Whether these are academic, physical or behavioral, summer is a wonderful time to work on these in a fun and concentrated way. For example, with our youngest children, we will work hard on reading and math. We will sign up for the summer reading program at our local library and read like crazy.
2) Have a great family meeting. Let everyone know the scheduled things, but then ask what they want to do. It is so interesting to hear from everyone. We talk about bedtime, media consumption, the B word (bored), chores, friends, etc. We share the list of things our community offers for free or at very affordable prices with the kids. We encourage them to research things they want to do that are not on the list; things like sports camps or VBS and report back to us.
3) Plan and take some field trips. We try to set aside Friday (Saturday if dad can go) as field trip day. We work hard during the week to get our stuff done so we can do something fun together. This includes trips to the beach, zoo, a movie, bowling, museums, or visiting our son at WSU. I have a friend who made up a game called “Get Lost”. She puts everyone in the car, again, with food and drinks and picks one child who gets to direct the car to go anywhere in the city until they say “stop.” Then they have lunch and try to find their way back home!!
4) Do some real life teaching. Look for opportunities to teach practical life skills. One year I had everyone pack their lunches. We had 8 children at the time. We all rode the bus to learn how to use the system. Again, my older kids were a little embarrassed and the younger ones loved it. But we all got comfortable so it paid off.
5) Don’t let your schedule own you. Lastly, while I do try to maintain some semblance of rhythm, I really try hard not to rush. I don’t want to appear too tired or to feel we don’t have the time to do the things children should do during summer. I want to allow plenty of unstructured time so they can explore, create, discover, experiment, draw, read, listen to music or dream. I also want them learning to be with themselves without the “media entertainment” factor. Times of solitude are so important; summer is the perfect time to practice this!!
Obviously there is more I could say. What does your family do in the summer?