School’s out! The kids are home for the summer, and suddenly your world has been turned upside down. How will you survive summer with kids home all day? Homeschooling parents do it year-round. But when you’re not used to having kids home all day, it can certainly feel like a shock to the system. Here are eleven tips from homeschoolers to help you get through the summer:
1. Free your children from boredom by encouraging independence
At the start of the summer, ask them to brainstorm a list of things they could try if they get bored. Post it in a handy place. When they complain of boredom, refer them to their list. Create a dog agility course in the backyard! Make a kitty condo by taping boxes together! Set up a cozy reading nook (indoors or out). Build a fort. If all else fails, suggest that they lie flat on their backs, look up at the sky or the ceiling, and wait there until a more interesting option comes to them — something always does.
2. Find a new rhythm during the day
If you live where summers are hot, the sun’s pattern may shape your daily rhythm. Spend time outdoors in the morning and late afternoon. During the middle of the day when the temperature is at its peak, do restful activities in the shade or the cool indoors. Evening can be a lovely time for a daily family walk.
3. Let your children follow their own bodies’ individual patterns
Let your kids dictate their own schedule for sleeping, waking, being active, or resting (within reason!). Encourage them to listen to how they feel after a late night or an early morning. Challenge them to figure out their own most comfortable daily rhythm and follow it during the summer months, even if the schedule will be less flexible come September.
4. Balance outings with unstructured time at home
During the summer, day camps and other activities can have a big impact on the shape of your days. If your family is extra busy, be sure to make room in your schedule for regular unscheduled time at home as well. If you’re usually at home without much structure, consider designating one or two regular days each week for outings.
5. Lean on the village
Connect with other compatible families and plan regular playdates where one parent gets a break while the other supervises children from both (or multiple) families.
6. Make regular time to play together as a family
Plan a set time in your day or week when everyone sets aside work responsibilities and obligations, and do something fun that you can agree on. If agreement is hard to come by, take turns choosing a family activity. Make a habit of being present with each other without distractions or multitasking.
7. Keep bins of crafts & puzzles handy
Gather plenty of basic craft supplies, puzzles and games, and set up an area in your home or yard for artistic exploration where children can be as independent as possible and clean-up is relatively easy.
8. Take midweek field trips!
Enjoy local museums, historical sites, libraries, parks, hiking trails, and beaches. Go on a weekday morning when crowds are most manageable. Your local library may have free or discount passes that families can borrow.
9. Give your children extra responsibilities
— and extra benefits, too. A child who is around more can help out more. Use this opportunity to help them learn how to do useful, routine tasks around the house. Those who prove capable of cleaning up the kitchen might be allowed to experiment on their own with new recipes or culinary inventions. Or turn wood-stacking into a fun race, and end with a bonfire when the stacking is all done. Give your children the opportunity to feel useful, develop skills, and then celebrate a task well done.
10. Take breaks from each other
Adults and caregivers need time “off the clock” where they can turn off their parental radar and recharge. Children benefit from relationships with different adults. If your child’s needs do not allow for separation, invite other adults to come and share the load.
11. Enjoy your time together
Take advantage of opportunities to connect throughout the day. Those moments may happen unexpectedly, so be on the lookout and make the most of them. If your children are more independent, wander around the house or yard occasionally just to find and say hello to them. If they are at an age where they want to be with you every moment, give in to their need and keep them close. September will be here all too quickly, and these moments do not last forever (even if it sometimes feels that way).