Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Fun: Let's Plan

There are three parts to a successful summer plan:

  1. Wish List
  2. The Schedule
  3. Flexibility
Summer is here!  I am always amazed at how fast a school year passes. With projects, homework and after school fun, it should be now real surprise. But, at the end of each school year, I always find myself saying, "I can't believe the year is already over."  This year, I want to push aside the summer boredom and seek out some budget-friendly fun.  To get things started, we set a flexible schedule and designed an upcycled memo board to keep track of the fun.

1:  Wish List
Last week, I asked my angels what we want to do this summer.  I heard things like, "paint pottery,"  "have a water day," and "I don't know".  I wrote their answers down.  But, whatever their response when the question was first asked, the responses after that moment are the ones that you don't want to miss. Each time we passed something interesting or did something fun, I was told, "I want to do that this summer," and on to my list it went. Pay attention because when we ask kids a question, something amazing happens... they start thinking.   Throughout the summer, they will have ideas, and those ideas will go on the "Wish List".
Along with their ideas, I have a few ideas of my own.  I want to work on the vision of my angel's lazy eye, go to a museum, and pick up shells on a beach.  Write these down, too.  With all of these ideas, I have a nice list of things that the kids and I want to do this summer. Post this list somewhere so that as the days pass and you are wondering what to plan next, you can refer to these goals and wishes for ideas.  

2:  The Schedule
Some people like a schedule with times for each daily activity, but I have found those to lead to disappointment in our house.  Often, fun opportunities arise and they throw off a concrete schedule.  Or, perhaps, today we need to flip our schedule so that we do our chores last and our fun first.  This is what summer is about!

This year, I am taking a new approach.  Our schedule looks more like a daily list of to-do's.  We have identified 5 things that we want or need to accomplish each day.  Yes, I had a lot to say in this part of the process!  We need to do some studying and some chores. But we also want to have some adventures.  What ever your daily to-do's are, write them down.  Keep your list to 5 or less.  We don't want to feel discouraged when things aren't finished and we certainly need some time for summer laziness!

3:  Flexibility
Summers are a time to recuperate from a busy school year.  They are a time to be lazy,  to sit in the sun, to discover new things... a time to be a kid!  But, if our schedules are too full or we don't leave room for adjustment, the summer is none of those things.

Leave room in your schedule for change.  Be flexible and, while we don't want to the summer to be a meaningless time full of TV and video games, don't forget to leave time for a slow start or pajama day.  These are the times that the kids will cherish and you will remember.  Be flexible; be a little lazy and enjoy the change of pace that summer allows.

4:  The Product
Once my schedule and wish list were made, I needed to post them someplace that everyone could see it. 

 I found a wall near our "Summer Fun Station" (more on that in another post) and used a ribbon to hang an old frame with the glass still in tact. If you don't have an old picture frame to upcycle, you could use a piece of metal with two holes drilled in the top, a rectangle cut from white tub backing, a large tile with ribbon glued to the back or a couple of $1 white boards.  I originally hung my summer fun board with a removable hanger... BUT... after it came tumbling down (at 2am!), it has now been rehung with a nail.  Note to self:  buy some spackle before September!

With an overhead pen, I wrote our daily to-do's along the left side of the board.  I was sure to leave a large space to the right side of my list so that I could add each day's specific details.  

Each morning or evening, I will use a dry erase marker to write the details for the day's schedule.  I will include a time for activities that are time-specific but otherwise, I will write down just what is needed.  Kids like to know what is coming each day and this will allow them to have a say in when we do chores as well as when we have some scheduled fun.  As we complete a daily task, we will mark it off with the dry erase pen.

Under the daily schedule, I wrote our "Wish List".  Be sure to let kids remove their "wishes" once they've done them. Kids love accomplishment as much as we do and this will allow them to watch their list shrink as the summer moves on.

I am eager to hear how you make and post your Summer Fun plans. Come back next week as I detail a few of our on-going summer projects to encourage independent learning throughout the summer.  See you then!

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