Monday, June 9, 2014

The Years Are Short (Summer Schedule)

I am against overscheduling children.  I think way too much of that goes on today, and as a consequence, children never know how to entertain themselves or even learn how to be at peace with themselves. 

That being said, I also know how things that you plan to do when you have the "time" in the summer can slip ever so easily through your fingers.  I'm lucky to have the time off with my kids in the summer.   I have all these ideas of things I want and need to do over the summer, but I know most of them won't get done if I don't have some kind of plan for the week.  I want to go to the zoo and beach and theater with my kids.  I want to have afternoons where we make cookies or they play with their friends.  I know it's important that they read.  I need to clean out the freezer, deep clean every room in the house, and organize all the junk that gets thrown in our extra bedroom during the school year.

How to accomplish this or at least not totally fail to do any of it?  A summer schedule.  I saw a version of this on Pinterest, but I tweaked it a bit to fit our needs. 


I was inspired to do this for my daughter, who always wants to know, "Are we doing anything today?"  She is a "doer".  She is happiest when she has a project to work on or people to socialize with.  My son could not care less.  He would be happy to be left to his own devices all day, every day as long as we're home.  Anyway, it goes like this:

Make Something Monday (crafts of projects)
Time to Read and/or Travel Tuesday (library or other type of outing)
What's Cooking Wednesday (baking or cooking)
Be Thoughtful Thursday (do a service for someone)
Friend Friday (invite a friend over)

I realize I started this post with saying how I don't think kids should be overscheduled and this may look exactly like what I'm doing.  Stay with me.  This isn't a way to overschedule them.  It's a way we can plan on doing something a little different every day for an hour or occasionally an afternoon.  It also ensures that the first week of August, I won't be thinking, "Oh crap!  We never made it to the beach!  We only went to the library three times! I had all this time and I wasted it!"  Overscheduling and structure are very different.  Kids love structure. They crave it.  They need it.   That is one of the Big Truths I have learned during my teaching career.

 I put some of the onus on the kids to come up with some ideas. I want them to realize they can entertain themselves by planning to do things.   When I talked to my daughter about the schedule, she immediately showed me a papier-mache project that was in one of her many craft project books.  "Can we do this?"  After looking it over and noting that we already had all the stuff, I assured her we could.  "I'll help you, but you'll have to do most of the work.  Including the clean up." I told her.  She happily agreed. 


This is how I'm planning to do this and how it worked today.  Our morning is pretty free.  We have breakfast, I get a workout in on the treadmill in, my son reads to me.  I try to tackle one daily chore: sorting and starting some laundry, running the vacuum, etc. They play or watch  t.v. while I'm doing my things.  It's usually about time for lunch by then.  The t.v and all other electronics are off until after dinner.  After lunch today, I told my daughter to start cutting the newspaper strips.  I asked my son if he wanted to make a piñata too.  He was busy playing with his toys and did not want to, so I did not press the issue.  He was already entertaining himself, so why make him do something different?  I gave her a dishpan, some flour, and water.  She went to town.  I helped a little, but she did the majority herself. 

How is it possible that after teaching for almost 20 years I have never done a papier-mache project?  Oh, that's right.  It's because I am not insane.  Papier-mache is a huge mess.  I can't imagine doing it with 30 kids.  But one kid?  Yes.




The whole process of the first layer took about an hour and fifteen minutes.  This was what she left to dry:


Afterwards she cleaned up outside.  Not one complaint. 



When she was done cleaning, she came back in, sighed happily, and went up to read her library book for about an hour.  While she did this (and my son was still playing with his toys), I cleaned out the freezer (one of my to-do items for the summer).  If I can tackle just one of my must-do's a couple of days a week, I'll be in pretty good shape.

I hope we can keep this schedule up.  I'm going to try to post every day this week about what we did.

Some day soon they won't be interested in making papier-mache piñatas or going to the beach with me.  A book I just read summed this up about life really well, "The days are long, but the years are short."  I'm starting to get a sense of that as my kids get older.  I won't have this time forever.  Sometimes you need an insurance policy that memories get made during the days you do have.


Kim




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