Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Schedule

Ah summer time...what's better than warm weather and a tree swing with a leisurely afternoon? Now that we are all well into summer, I'm sure we've had some great lazy days and some more difficult days given all the free time. Sometimes I find my children have a little too much leisure and that can lead to some grumpiness all around. Relaxing is good...idleness not so much!

A favorite playground at a local State Park
 R11 and I have been reading Little Women together and I found Chapter 11, "Experiments" to be a great illustration of what I'm talking about. In the book, it's the first of June and the girls have some time off from their regular duties- the older girls work and the people they work for are off on holiday. The girls all want leisure as much as they can have it and though Mrs. March argues that it would not be satisfying, they insist and she says they can have their experiment. By the end, everything is a mess and the girls are in a poor mood based on various mishaps and the fact that Hannah and Mrs. March also take the last day off just to prove her point. In the end, Mrs. March gives out this advice and we'd do well to take it to heart even today!

"...Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty."

When I set out to explain our "summer cards" I used this example and read the chapter aloud to the kids. I love the way good books often give us such sound illustrations of wisdom to live by! I already had a list of things I wanted the kids to work on this summer- at their discretion. However, most of the time they were not choosing those things. Which is fine. Only they were not doing well with wandering on their own after a while. Enter Carisa's Summer Challenge 2011. She recently posted about how she was tracking things she wanted her kids to do and she has a list of rewards based on their choices which she records on a chart. I'm not really a token economy kinda girl, so I tweaked things for our home and here are the results.

I went ahead and used Carisa's forms and printed four sets and color coded and laminated them. Now the kids just flip through to remind themselves of a great activity.

Rewards- summer treats are things like ice sticks, popsicles, the occasional trip to and ice cream shop. I tried to tune in to the things my kids would really enjoy.

Still working on one for R11. You'll notice too that I changed the point value based on age and ability to hang in there.
How's it working? Well I just finished the cards finally and I'm happy to report it has given my kids motivation to make better choices and things are humming along well. The younger kids will be rewarded sooner and I think it will encourage them to keep going. The lists include items I know they love and items I want them to stretch themselves with. Now I bet you are wondering what's on the lists!

  • NXT Challenges- from his books or websites
  • chronological Bible reading- he has taken on reading the Bible in the order of when the books were written
  • Alice animation projects
  • Current Events- reading God's World News and The Learning Network. He also likes to read the VT football blogs to keep up with the Hokies.
  • Reading Book from the Classics List- there are many too choose from. He must read 2 classics.
  • Vacuum the upstairs- without being asked
  • Falconry- read and study his packet
  • mow grass- can be done early on a day that is scheduled for mowing (he mows with Dan- we have two mowers and it's Dan's dream come true)
  • LEGO Building
  • Building Toy Challenge- go for tall structures for find another challenge to conquer 
  • Computer Programming- with Scratch or GameMaker
  • Reading Books- free read
  • Sewing Journal
  • Art Journaling
  • Craft Projects
  • Hand Sewing
  • Pen Pal Letters
  • Reading Books from the Classic List- she must read one this summer
  • vacuum upstairs
  • Reading Books- free read
  • Machine Sewing
  • Dolls- dollhouse play or American Girl
  • Miss Bliss blogging
  • Starry Night Software
  • Reading- free read
  • LEGO Building
  • Building Toys
  • NXT Challenge- beginner level
  • math play- we have lots of playful math activities
  • math puzzle website
  • hand sewing- now and then he has a project
  • pen pal letters
  • Reading- free reading on his own
  • Read to Mommy!
  • Building Toys
  • Snap Circuits
  • Science Kits
  • math play
Common Activities: These are items all the kids can choose from. The chores are ones that are not necessarily on their regular list, but they may be ones I'd like to see done without me asking- a little habit formation going on here.
  • play outside
  • weed the sunflower garden
  • water the sunflower garden
  • weed the front flower bed- new work going in there soon
  • 4H Fair preparation- these are due on Monday morning
  • riding bikes
  • dust- with permission
  • take laundry upstairs
  • tidy living room
  • tidy their bedrooms
  • audio books- we have many to choose from
  • cooking school- offer to help cook or expressing an interest in doing a meal

Here are some other fun summer ideas I've come across in the last few weeks. Over at Simple Homeschool there were two posts that interested me.

 5 Ways to Encourage Summer Learning 
 5 Outdoor Summer Science Projects 

Some of you might be wondering what happened to our Summer Adventure Boxes. These are a somewhat modified form of the adventure. Each child has a list of things to explore. They are just not all related to one theme. I have found that sometimes my kids need a break from even a structured theme and I definitely needed a break from organizing an adventure this year. 

The summer cards are just a way of helping my kids to make some edifying choices at some point during their day. We are mixing it up with a "game streak", trips to the playground and parks, my own art and science projects here and there, and of course some family camping trips.

How is your summer going?


Julie said...

I love this idea and will have to tuck it away for the future because...we start school next Monday! agh! :) It's been a challenge here to keep my oldest engaged while at home (sans computer and TV).

musicalmary said...

I wish I would have known about this a couple of months ago -- it's great! Our summer is going well, but I have taken a complete break from organization and schedule. We are doing read-alouds and math and the occasional study of something that strikes our fancy. After a year of mama going overboard with schedules, etc... I decided to just take the summer "off" -- but I love your system and I am going to file this away for next summer. Thank you!

Pop said...

Since it took most of April, May and part of June to get the house ready to sell, J7 and I are attempting to do 4 or so lessons a week in reading and math...reading because I don't want him to lose any ground (He's just right there almost ready to read anything and everything!) and math because he loves it. He's also loving Lego club challenges, Mr. Wizard science movies and finally learning to swim. I'm planning a big unit study on Egypt for the start of "school" but that probably won't be 'til the first of September and that is, thankfully, a good 8 weeks away! Viva la summer!