In the first part of this article, Beating the Summertime Blues, I gave you all sorts of ideas for keeping kids cool, collected, and occupied during that typically looooooong school break. Have you had a chance to try any of them yet? I hope so! Just remember that even if you homeschool year-round, it’s fun to take a breather and enjoy some of the pleasures of summer!
Fun for fun’s sake is … well, FUN! But today, let’s also talk about ways to maintain some semblance of order during the summer. Just because summer affords more freedom, it doesn’t have to become a free-for-all!
A Time for Routine
Summer is no excuse for chaos. Most kids thrive on routine, so try to keep a schedule. Assign regular chores, for example. Don’t let the kids sleep till noon. And expect them to be productive. We all want our children to be servant-hearted, right? This summer, help them discover the joy of ministry. For starters, make decorations for a nursing home. Volunteer at VBS. As a family, weed an elderly neighbor’s flowerbed or serve a meal at a homeless shelter or park.
A Time for Projects
Summer is also the perfect time to tackle things you can’t seem to get to during the year. Paint the bedrooms. Plant a garden. And don’t forget some structured activities too. Could you teach your children to crochet, bake, sew, or work with wood? How about including crafts, merit badges, 4-H projects, and yes, even schoolwork, in your summertime plan of action?
A Time for Skill-Sharpening
This doesn’t mean you have to pull out the math books. But do look for ways to keep kids on their toes with word puzzles, skill drills, and lots of reading. A quick Google search will yield all sorts of online skill-sharpening activities. Supervised, kids can also explore outer space, ancient Egypt, or a rainforest by visiting quality educational websites.
Fun Writing Activities
Of course, don’t forget to throw in some writing for good measure. We’re not necessarily talking about full-blown compositions. Journals or diaries help youngsters record their experiences, dreams, and ideas. Letters to grandparents and missionaries bless the recipients and give practice in penmanship and prose.
Consider other assorted writing activities. With a little encouragement, your children can write and produce a play or radio drama, design colorful posters, or create travel brochures for places real or imagined.
If your school-year writing is fairly structured, let summer include more tall tales and stories. Search the Internet for “writing prompts” and let the fun begin!
Gather together after dinner and write round robins: Give each person, even Dad, a different prompt and set the timer. Every three minutes, pass papers clockwise and continue adding to the story that’s before you. When Mom says it’s been long enough, everyone should conclude the tale in front of him. After reading each story aloud, celebrate your authors with a plate of brownies.
Writer’s Treasure Box
Here’s a fun idea: Keep a Writer’s Treasure Box stocked with odds and ends from around the house, such as shells or rocks; game pieces; old eyeglasses, jewelry, or accessories; magnifying glass; newspaper; CD; scraps of luxurious and everyday fabrics; and magazine photos of scenery and people. Let each child choose three items from the box and begin developing a story, either written or oral, featuring those items. When they run out of steam, they pick something new from the box and continue spinning their tales.
Entertaining your family doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. When summertime rolls around, the livin’ can be easy if you have a plan in place. Include a bit of R and R, something wet and wild, and a few fun family times. You’ll approach the new school year renewed, refreshed, and ready to roll.
But while it’s here, do enjoy the season— even if you can’t find the frog.
From “Beating the Summertime Blues”
Copyright © 2006 Kim Kautzer
Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2006. Used with permission.