Is anyone else playing “School’s out for the summer” on repeat? Whether you’re a teacher, stay at home mom, homeschooling mom or working outside the home mom, I think we can all agree that a change of pace in routine and activity is a breath of fresh air in June!
But, before we know it August will be back again and the school routine will start once more. Here are a few ideas of how you can help the transition from school-to-home and home-to-school again, focusing on how to include some learning routines as a part of your summer rhythm.
Managing the Transition and Starting Summer Right
- If your child’s location is going to change for the summer (school, summer camp, daycare, grandparents, etc…) communicate with where they’ve been during the academic year, especially for children under age 5. What time are they used to eating lunch? What is their naptime routine? Knowing & respecting their current schedule–and sticking to it–will help you transition into a summer at home together. It might not seem like a big deal–until it’s noon and you have a hangry (hungry-angry) toddler who is used to eating lunch at eleven!
- You know that huge grocery bag (or heaven forbid, garbage bag) that your child’s teacher sends home at the end of the year? Take time to go through it WITH your child and let them pick five or ten (or however many you think is appropriate) artifacts from their school year to laminate or put in sleeve protectors and keep in a 3 ring binder or scrapbook. OR, take photos digitally and print off more than ten to remember their favorite projects, book reviews, field trips, notes from teachers, etc…
- My summer goal is to always keep some sort of routine & structure but let there be room for flexible spontaneity. It’s a balance I’m not always perfect at meeting, but I know that my family does better with a weekly plan that allows for last minute trips to the park or spur of the moment play dates that don’t interrupt our meals, naptimes and bedtimes.
Easy Tips for Continuous Summer Learning
*Learning at Home: Look for what you are already doing & build around it.*
- If you don’t already have one, make a place in your home where your children can do school like activities or a quiet reading place. Ask their teacher for recommendations of books at their level (meaning they can read independently without help). Depending on the age of your child, put some vocab or math flashcards, art supplies, and other games or puzzles.
- Literacy: Read, read read! If you don’t do ANYTHING else over the summer, make reading a priority, and make it fun & purposeful! Are you going to be spending a lot of time in the car? Grab books on CD or tape, even short trips in town can add up to several stories to be listened to. Do you read aloud before bedtime? Find a series or chapter book that can last a month or even all summer. Do your older kids get bored when the younger ones nap? Encourage a quiet reading time every day, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes. Do your kids want screen time? Let it be a reward for reading a real book first! Are you going on a vacation this summer? Check out books about the place that include history, weather, fiction/non-fiction, famous people from the area, etc… to build the excitement before the trip! Check out http://simplehomeschool.net/summerbookclub/ for a great plan to “Read Around the World” this summer!
- Math: Summer is a great time to include your children in real life math experiences that sometimes get overlooked in math curriculum. Themes like money, time and measurement can apply to so many situations and it can make math more fun when you invite your children to work out problems with you! Are you getting a summer pass to the pool or zoo? Let your elementary child help you determine the best deal for your family. Are you going on a road trip? Make a worksheet and let them use an atlas to find out how many miles, hours, and gas to plan for your trip. Do you have favorite summer recipes? Let your children plan menus, write grocery lists, and compare prices for the best deals, and include them as you measure ingredients and prepare food. Remember, look at what you’re already doing and look for opportunities to have fun with math!
- Science: There are so many amazing opportunities in the summer to experience science themes! Life is happening all around–life cycles of animals, plants, gardens and weather patterns just to name a few! A great way to incorporate literacy and science, for any age, is to have a science journal where they can draw and write observations, make predictions and comparisons. For younger children you could make a large science journal and you could model writing the weather or changes in your garden together, and then let them draw pictures to go with your writing. Encourage emerging writers to think of a statement, count the words, and try writing the sounds they hear. Encourage proficient writers to use good handwriting skills and check their work for errors.
- Fine motor/Handwriting: I’m second-ing what The Good Life said in her recent post about Summer Survival. Even though our world is rapidly changing to be technologically driven, all students still need strong fine motor skills for typing, drawing, creating, and writing! Summer can be a fun time to seek out a pen pal (grandparent, cousin, member of the military, friends in other countries, etc…) and practice handwritten letters instead of emails, texts, social media messages, etc… For younger children, encourage fine motor play in a sensory tub outside, stringing beads, art exploration, and PLAY!
The Bottom Line
Remember to embrace and enjoy the change of pace, the late light nights, the invites to pool parties and picnics at parks. Enjoy slower, not-rushed mornings and relaxed, extended bedtimes. Remember that our children will remember memories we make with them, not that our to-do lists were always done. Remember our children are born as curious and ready-to-learn explorers, they just need us as a guide. You don’t need a teaching degree to help them learn this summer; they will only be as passionate to learn as we are passionate to guide them!