Summer is here! Be honest….does this make you want to celebrate or cry? Let me tell you how creating a summer schedule for children can actually SAVE your sanity this summer!
Now I’m not talking about planning every 30 minutes of your day, and becoming the summer drill sergeant. (Although, if it works for you, go for it. hehe) The reality is that all children thrive on routine, or knowing what to expect.
Here is the lie I believe every year when June rolls around, “Time to throw out that schedule, and soak up summer! We’re just going to wing it this year.” Fast forward ten days, and I’m about to pull my hair out. Can you relate?
Don’t worry Mama, I have a plan. First, you need to answer these three questions.
1. What are your goals for this summer?
I know this might seem overwhelming, but don’t skip this! You need to know what your expectations are, or you are going to live in a constant state of frustration. I’ll help you break it down.
- Morning – Are you okay with children in their pajamas until noon, or do you want their Morning Five complete by a certain time?
- Learning – Is there anything your children need to work on academically this summer? What about number writing, handwriting, or math facts? No joke, summer slide is a real thing. Just a little dose of reading, writing, and/or math every day will keep your child from getting rusty.
- House – What do you need for your home to run smoothly this summer? What chores are a daily necessity and which ones can you delegate to lighten your load? Are there any organizing projects you want to tackle?
- Training – Summer is a perfect time to for practicing things that are often overlooked in the school year. Does your child show an interest in cooking, or could they use a lesson in how to clean the bathroom? Think about those skills, especially the ones that will make your life a little easier, and make a plan to train your children.
2. What are my children’s goals for this summer?
If you have children under five this won’t be as crucial. You can definitely include them in making decisions when possible (Would you rather visit the zoo or the aquarium?). However, I’m finding that the older my children get, the more defined their expectations become.
It’s also never too early to set goals. “Is there anything you would like to learn about or learn to do this summer?”
We had a family meeting to make our summer bucket list. First, brainstorm a list of possible field trips (water park, amusement park, skating rink, lake, etc.) and write them on a white board. Next we did the same thing with summer activities (making smores, make slime, have a water balloon fight, etc.) Everyone chose one field trip and one activity they wanted to do this summer, and we posted our list. (Note: We have been doing this for awhile, and have open conversations regularly about prices of things and what activities are in our family budget. If this is new to your family, you might need to start with a list of parent-approved ideas.)
I also took a minute to chat with my older children, and asked them “How do you imagine summer this year?” I didn’t correct or shoot down any responses, just wanted a feel for what they were expecting. It is a great eye-opener though to hear what is important to them, and get insight into the next question.
3. What challenges might stand in our way?
Some challenges are obvious, like the classic screen time battle our generation gets to fight. Others are going to come up and need to be resolved, like my 11 year old telling me through tears that the reason he worked so diligently on his zone job during the spring was because he thought he got a break all summer. Oops!
You’re always going to get a curveball. That’s just life. Last year our curveball was having our 97-year-old Grandma get sick. Providing in-home care 24 hours/day was no small feat with five other children running around! However, when you have a plan to start with, it is much easier to roll with the punches.
How to Create a Summer Schedule for Young Children
These adorable cards are color-coded with English in blue and Spanish in red. They come in a full color version or coloring book version, or you can just print them in black and white. If you have children of different ages with different schedules, you can also print the coloring book version on different colored paper for each child.
- If you homeschool or are a teacher mama, chances are you have a pocket chart at home. These cards are 3″ by 2″ which fit great in a small pocket chart.
- We actually sized them perfectly to fit these baseball card holders. They are easy to find in the U.S., but if you live abroad or shop on amazon, you can buy baseball card holders here.
- If you prefer a super portable version, just hole punch the corner, hang them up in a central place, and flip to the next activity as the day goes on.
How to Create a Summer Schedule for Older Children
If you answered the three questions earlier, this will be a simple. Print off a copy of our suggested schedule, or a blank version you can customize even more.
Calendar – Fill in any appointments, lessons, playdates, activities for the week.
Morning – Fill in any morning jobs that need to be done (Make bed, Get dressed, Brush teeth and hair)
Learning – Fill in any learning goals you set for your children. Simple ideas include: Reading (Read 15 minutes), Writing (Journal about yesterday), and Math (Practice math facts with an app like Xtra Math).
Helping – Fill in any age-appropriate chores from your house list above.
Working – Have any jobs or projects you’re willing to pay for? Babysitting, washing the car, etc. write them down here. A little bit every day, adds up to a lot accomplished at the end of summer!