(Note: My kids are 7, 5, 3, 3, 9months. I think the same concepts can be applied to any age, however you think they will work best with the ages of your kids.)
Why do the kids need a schedule for summer? Is it possible to have fun on a schedule? Here’s my point of view along with how we set up and introduce our schedule to the kids, how we make it fun, and some FREE printables if you want to use any of these ideas:
Isn’t it supposed to be a time to relax, have some fun, and not to have to worry about being scheduled? I am so excited for school to be out – I’ve been counting down the days as much as my kids have been. And while its tempting to just do away with any kind of schedule, I also know how important it is to have a schedule for summer. Why?
- I’m a parent. Its my job to teach my kids. During the school year, my kids (the ones in school) spend most of their day away from me and I don’t have an opportunity to teach them as much as I would like to.
- Without some sort of schedule, kids don’t know what to expect and it can throw them for a loop.
- Having a schedule seems to decrease the fighting among kids – notice I didn’t say that it gets rid of it completely 😉
- We may have lots of things we want to do, but without a schedule those things never seem to get done since it can take half the day to even get going.
- With a bunch of young kids running around, a schedule allows them to help me keep things in order around the house so I don’t get burned out with constantly cleaning up after everyone.
- When they know what to expect about tv and video game time, I don’t have to be constantly saying “no”. They know when they can watch/play and when they should be doing something else.
- The right kind of schedule will allow for several hours of free play time during the day which is very important for kids and also allows time for us to do special activities together.
- The amount of nagging (from Mom) and whining (from kids) is greatly decreased when you stick with a system like this. I don’t have to nag kids to do their chores or anything else . . . if they don’t do them that’s fine, they just don’t get the rewards. And you can bet they’ll do them the next time!
- Life is actually much, much easier with a schedule!
Here’s how we break it down:
- Before breakfast – I’ve found that if the kids have to do certain things before they get to eat that they will get them done very quickly and without any argument because they want to eat. I don’t even have to remind them. In our house, they need to: make their bed, say their prayers, get dressed and put their pajamas away.
- Before screen time – I think most kids love tv and video games just like mine do. If we’re not careful, the whole summer could be wasted with screen time. I allow one kid to choose one show each day for everyone to watch and 30 minutes of video game time. But before they can have any of that, they need to complete their chores, have some time outside, some time working on their summer goals, and some time reading. This really keeps me from harping on them to do their chores, play outside, read, etc. because they are motivated by earning that screen time.
- Things can get messy during the day while everyone is playing and they need to help with clean up. I don’t like my husband to walk in the door from work to a disaster zone (I wouldn’t like to come home to that myself!). So, we do a quick clean up before Dad gets home. I plan it for 3:30 so that its done before I start making dinner. Because the kids know to expect it, there is limited whining when I say they need to stop playing and clean up.
- My kids love to help cook but we don’t do a lot of that during the school year. Summer is a great time for that so each child is assigned a night to help cook. By doing it one on one, its easier on me. They get to learn to cook and they get some one-on-one time with Mom. Everyone gets to help with some part of kitchen upkeep. So, if they’re not helping with cooking, they’re assigned to set the table, unload the dishwasher, wash the dishes or sweep up after dinner.
How do we make it fun?
- The kids get to choose a goal to work on during the summer and its something they’ve been wanting to do so they’re excited about it. (This is for older kids – example: my 7 year old has been wanting to learn how to play the piano so I’ve bought some beginner books and will be working with him this year.)
- Each kid gets $5 at the beginning of the summer to go buy a new book at Target. We will also do the summer reading program at the public library and through Barnes and Noble.
- After dinner, we have family time. It is usually something outside like going for a walk or playing sports together. Sometimes it will be watching a movie or playing games inside.
- We make a bucket list of the fun things we want to do in the summer. With a list and a plan to do one a week, we will remember to do them instead of letting the summer slip by without doing those things.
- I make a packet for my school age kids to accomplish each week with fun worksheets to practice the skills they’ve been learning in school or need to learn for the next year. They can do it all on one day or one page each day but if its done by Friday at dinner time they’ll get to pick a special treat out of a treat bucket after dinner. I printed out fun math worksheets and handwriting practice pages for the kids this year.
- Having a Chore Store makes it extra fun to do chores to work towards a special item in the first part of summer and then just making some extra money for the rest of the summer.
How to get started?
- When the kids come home from school on the last day of school they’ll see the Summer Command Center. It is a plastic hanging file box with a page (free printables below!) taped to each side so all of our schedules, checklists, and plans are easy to see. There are 10 hanging file folders (one for each week of summer vacation). Each folder holds a packet of worksheets for each school age child (see above). There is also an envelope for each child with their $5 to go buy their new summer book (see above).
- That night we have a “pizza party” (pizza for dinner) and talk over the details so they know exactly what to expect from the summer. My parents gave us this “talk” at the beginning of summer when we were kids; we always knew it was coming and joked about it 🙂 This is also a time for older kids to set their summer goals, if we haven’t already talked about it.
Summer Command Center Free Printables – with some details filled in
Summer Command Center Free Printables – more customizable