Summer is before us. The long days of hot sun hold the promise of lazy days, sIeeping a little later, and kids who bore easily and fuss often. My summer sanity is seriously at risk here!
I have to have a plan or I might lose my mind. I use Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37-39 as pillars to keep my sanity during the summer. My goal is to remain intentional with this time I have with my kids in the summer months.
The 4 Pillars of Summer Sanity
We have a motto at our house: Have to’s before want to’s. That motto is important during the summer, as well as the school year. I give the kids four “have to’s” each day, with the liberty to choose how they pursue each one. We spent a little time brainstorming ways they can explore the four pillars of their day (find a FREE printable below!). Once the “have to’s” are complete, they can move on to their “want to’s.”
Just as Jesus started His day with the Father (Mark 1:35), I want to encourage my kids to do the same. During the school year, the mornings are fast and furious. Summer is a time to teach the practice of quiet time. I ask that each child spend some time connecting their heart to the Father. We came up with a few ways to make this happen:
- Reading from the Bible, a kids’ devotional book, or Bible storybook.
- Watch Jelly Telly
- Write an encouraging note to a friend or family member
- Worship with the karaoke machine
- Work on scripture memory
Our school sent home a dozen emails warning of the dangers of the “summer slide.” From the last day of school to the start of the new year, kids lose two grade levels of math skills. I don’t know about the time around your homework table, but math brings out the worst in all of my people. I do not want any regression this summer! The same principle holds true for reading. We have a choice: progress or regress. Our ideas for progress:
- Summer reading program at our library (this also gives us a fun activity each week)
- Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
- Tenmarks FREE online math program (K-12) will assess your child’s current level and then provide a personalized curriculum. (Kindle and iPad apps are also available.)
- Creative writing. Scholastic has a fun website for story starters. Journal Buddies offers several writing prompts.
- Good, old fashioned flash cards to keep those math facts sharp.
- Games involving language and math skills such as Yahtzee, Scrabble/Scrabble Junior, Rumicube, and Scattergories.
- Fun science experiments
- Mom-approved documentaries. My middle schooler loves America the Story of Us and Dogs 101.
If left to themselves, my girls would love to spend the day on the couch with Disney and Minecraft. If your kids play on a summer sports team, this will get taken care of with practices and games. We have to be intentional about including physical activity in each day. We have a few favorites:
- Walk the dog
- Riding bikes
- Wii Fit
- Kid classes at the YMCA
- PBS Zoomgames and Mommy Poppins offer great lists of physical activities and games.
Helping out at home is a way to love your neighbor (with mom being the “neighbor” in this scenario). You may already have a list of chores for your kids to do each day. We do better with assigned chores and a checklist or chart. Here are some helpful resources:
- Age-appropriate chores with downloadable chore charts
- How To Create a Chore Chart That Works by Ruth Soukup
- Enlist the kids to help with a family meal, a perfect opportunity to teach life skills.
- Ask your kids what skills they want to learn. One of my kids wants to learn how to garden and mow the yard. I already have her busy watering plants every day.
The key to making this work for our family is communication and consistency.
I clearly communicate my expectations at the beginning of the summer. The boundaries help them know what to expect. The freedom to choose within those boundaries gives them ownership of their summer days.
I also have to remain consistent with the four pillars each day. If they start to grab the remote or Kindle to feast on some mind candy, I remind them to finish the “have to’s” first (even though the peace promised by the electronic babysitters is tempting!). (For some help with establishing boundaries for screen use, read this.)
We are always looking for fun, new ideas. What does your family like to do to keep the sanity during the summer months?
I have a FREE printable you can use with your kids to brainstorm the 4 pillars of summer sanity. Spend a few minutes talking about the importance of each pillar. Then, have fun coming up with ways to work on each area: heart, head, health, and home! Record your ideas on this printable, or slip it into a sheet protector to reuse each week (use a dry erase marker to write on the sheet protector).
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