How to Create a Summer Homeschool Rhythm
One of the hardest things for us to do every year is to switch smoothly from our winter rhythm into our summer rhythm. During the winter we spend a lot of time indoors because of how cold it can get, so we do a lot of inside activities to keep little fingers and toes warm. During the summer, however, we can spend almost all day outside and hardly any time at home! We take our schoolbooks, bring some food and drink with us, and we spend time in the warm air and sunshine, and let the boys run around all day long. With less time spent at home though, we can often be left feeling unanchored and flighty. Chores don't get done, mornings are either too rushed or not moving enough, and bedtime gets frequently disrupted while we make excuses for staying up late to spend time with friends.
It is important to me to ensure that we keep a stable rhythm, even when we're running around all day playing and going from one activity to the next. I make sure we have a couple of anchor points throughout the day where we swing back home and spend some time winding down from being out and about. While winters here are cold, summers can also be very hot, so I bring us home between 1:30 and 4:00 to stay cool during the hottest part of the day. If I put on a show during the day, this is usually when I do it. Mornings we spend outside, either at swimming lessons, Tae Kwon Do, or just in the yard, and we do most of our studies out there.
Since we are in the process of getting one of our children tested for dyslexia, I'm keeping our studies simple. We're working on the alphabet/letter recognition (since most of our kids either don't know it or struggle because of a learning disorder), and I am reading outloud to them on a daily basis. We are reading The Burgess Bird Book, by Thornton Burgess, and we are also reading Sibley's Birds West, and studying local birds in our area. I'll be recording my kids narrating (or "telling-back") what we are learning and covering in video form right now so we can use it for our school submissions. We are also going to be using our math curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful to work on passing off some of our state learning goals this summer, so I have less stress during the winter!
Once our morning studies and play time are done, we come in for lunch, 20 minutes of personal reading, and some quiet shows. I make the boys lay on their beds for 20 minutes every afternoon after lunch and read/look at books while we listen to an audio story. This gives us more exposure to written and oral story telling, and gives me a much needed break. After reading time is done, I let the boys watch a movie during the hottest part of the day. While I would love to keep us entirely screen free all the time, I also need time to work on my own schooling and projects (like this blog!!!) and the best way to keep them all from wallowing on me non-stop is to let them have a show. It's a means to an end. I pick out the movie while they are still in their rooms so I don't have to listen to them complain, and then I work on the computer while they are watching.
Once their show time is done, I send them back outside to play. Usually, by this point, the air has started to cool down (around 4:30 pm-ish) and they can play for another hour and a half before dinner. Dinner is at 6:00 or 6:30 pm (depending on when I get it on the table), and we have the boys in bed with teeth brushed by 7:15, sometimes 7:30. I really shoot for 7:15 though, because once we start passing 7:30 the boys begin to catch a second wind and start to get crazy (when that happens nobody gets in bed until 9 for some reason, so I'm a real stickler for bedtime!) Once everyone is in bed we play audiobooks on our speaker for 30-45 minutes. Stories are turned off at 8:00, and I play bedtime songs for them till about 8:20. Everyone is usually asleep by then.
There are a couple of things I'm planning on changing up. First, I need to work in time to go over to work in the garden plot our friends have let us use. We've been sporadic about getting out there, and I need to be more consistent in getting out to do the weeding. So Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we will be going out to work on the garden instead of just playing outside. I want to start getting dinner in the oven/crockpot/instant pot by lunchtime so I can have dinner ready more easily in the evening.
So, how does this translate over to your family and home? The first thing is to determine your anchor points to the day. What are the times you're going to come together in the mornings, the afternoons, and the evenings? Maybe it will center around a meal, or perhaps a naptime. Pick what works for your family, and build your rhythm from there.
Once your anchor points are set, then you can start filling in your family's needs from there. I have two versions of the chart, one with basic tasks and ideas already filled in, and one that is left blank for you to put your own plans into. When all of it is filled out the next step is to start following it. Every day. If changing up your whole day seems to be overwhelming, then pick just one anchor point to focus on first. Evenings were a good choice for us because having a smooth night led to easier days.
If you want more ideas about how to set up a rhythm for your family, check out my Pinterest board on Home Education. Follow us on Pinterest to keep up to date with our latest posts!