The Kids are wild and free to play, what ever their little hearts desire.
Or so they think.
Summer can be stressful for the parent of the grade school student. A helpless feelings of losing academic ground can rise up. Parents, teachers and students alike can love/dread the approaching deadline of September as the need to “Get-Back-Into-the-Swing-of-Being-A-Student” can be a hard transition. Plus you have the added dread of parents and teachers knowing that their children will lose a little of what they learned last year over the summer’s 70 + days – out of school.
And lets face it.
Unless you have a genius child, all school aged kids have their strengths and weaknesses at school. All could use a little “Summer Home School Work.”
But who wants to talk about school during the summer?
Actually, I do. Summer time can be a great opportunity to put a little school routine into your children’s summer holidays. In our house we call it our “Home School Work.”
I need to write a clause in here, that I am NO teacher, we send our kids to a great local school. I do not do homeschooling. (I was a very patient person – until I had kids… sound familiar?!) ) I get frustrated easily trying to teach, then my children get frustrated and it will end up being a huge mess.
We developed this simple summer home school work routine to maintain the kids knowledge of where they left off in June, also giving the kids a routine to help fill out their summer days nicely. (kids THRiVE on routine…. but I guess I don’t need to tell you that!!!)
Our routine is simple;
1) “Home School Work” starts after school is let out for the summer and ends when you go back to school.
2) In May or June, I pick out workbooks online – one for each child. (ordered on Amazon <3 )
3) Then I wrap the workbooks up as a gift. The gifts are left lying on our dining room buffet on the last couple days before school ends to build the anticipation of opening them. It totally works. The kids are excited to see what’s in their present. On the last day of school when they come home they can open them. While this step may seem silly or unnecessary – The kids get SO excited about opening the books, they sometimes start the books right there on the evening of the first day off of school.
4) We only do our “home school work” on Monday – Friday’s
5) “Home school Work” HAS to happen RIGHT AFTER BREAKFAST ( I find that if we skip then it’s very hard to go back because usually the kids are into playing whatever game and interrupting the nice playing to do school work is one battle I chose not to enter into.)
6) We take out all the workbooks and coloring box after breakfast and all of us sit at the table to work. I’m up and down a lot as I help them work at the kitchen table. This also gives me the opportunity to clean up the messy kitchen after breakfast.
7) Each child has to complete a certain number of pages per day as their “Home School Work” I already tell them when they receive their books at the beginning of the summer how many pages they have to pick each to complete as their “home school work” Key: THEY PICK the PAGES. I pick HOW MANY (which doesn’t change all summer long) My son just finished Grade 1 – he has to complete 6 pages. (front and back is equals 1 page) My oldest daughter just finished senior kindergarten and has to finish 4 pages. My other daughter about to go into junior kindergarten has to finish 2 pages. Key: They know how many pages are expected of them. (but I’m very flexible with my youngest daughter. She’s only 3 and just love to sit with the big kids and mainly colors)
8) All pages are corrected by mom and then fixed by the kids. (exception is for my 3 year old… I DON’T fix her work = just TRYING to install the love of schooling and sit down and learning – easier for little girls)
9) Once the kids are done they are free to go and play for the rest of the day.
9) Flexibly is key. If we have coffee time with grandma on Monday morning. We skip home school work, go see grandma, and there is NO catch up days … just keep on going. Start again Tuesday.
A huge way that I set up our ‘Home School work” for success is that I carefully choose the right book for each child’s learning level.
For my son that just finished Grade 1 – I bought him a Grade one workbooks. I already said I’m no teacher and have little patience to teach, but if I buy the book at a level that they can do – pretty much independently = success. I usually have to read the instructions and explain what the sheet is asking them to do… that I can do. Try to get a child to grasp an entirely NEW concept… I’m not willing to take that on.
KEY: To maintain what they have learned this past year at school and to keep practicing school work including the time it takes to sit down and be still will help them be ready in the fall.
I LOVE “School Zone Publishing Company” with their fun, colorful, easy to tear out pages. Just a warning is that while a Grade 1 workbook is great for my son that just finished Grade 1. I find the younger books (Preschool) are a bit harder for my 3 year old. I ask her to circle things or color the pictures, but asking her to follow the instructions and trace and E = forget it! This entire routine needs to be manageable for Busy Mom to our I wont keep this up.
“Kumon Grade 1 Writing Workbook” and “School Zone Publishing Company 1st Grade Big Workbook”
These are Sam’s; my Grade 1 graduate books. I also started using a “Kumon” book this year. Sam needs more practice in his writing and reading skills so I picked up this “Kumon Grade 1 writing Book” as well. “Kumon” is great because the workbook starts off easy and he can complete his pages and feel excited about his success. He will keep trying as the book gets harder. Between these two workbooks he can pick his 6 pages to complete. It usually will take him about an hour.
Sam can also chose to do some journaling to practice his writing. 1 journal entry does count as 1 of his 6 pages. It just has to be neat writing.
Sam or Savanna can also use this laminated practice number sheet. It helps them to remember which direction their numbers go. I’ll ask them to practice using this if that morning (say) Savanna was struggling in writing her 3’s in the correct direction. “You need a little practice…. Here you go, try this.” Using a dry eraser marker.
- “School Zone Publishing Company Kindergarten Big Workbook”
These are Savanna’s; my kindergarten graduate – workbooks. The BIG workbook gives her lots of practice in all subjects; sequencing, matching, counting, writing, coloring etc.
- “Crayola Washable DryErase Crayons with Writing Board”
This I use for the kids when they have spelling words to practice during the school year, but for “Summer Home School Work”it’s a great way to practice that one frustrating letter they can’t write in the correct direction. The Dry eraser board makes a fun way to practice writing S’s over and over again.
“School Zone Publishing Company Preschool Super Scholar”
This is Emma’s; my “about to start school” 3 year old workbook. It’s very simple, fun activities for her. She can try to follow the instructions, but if she is getting frustrated, I just let her color the pictures or ask her to go get her coloring books instead. It’s about half the size of the Big Kids Books.
- “Sight Word Flash Cards”
On top of the “Summer Home School Work” that we do we also do READING!!!!!! Sam and Savanna can either read a book for 10 mins and receive a sticker on their reading chart or they can read flash cards for 10 mins and receive a sticker.
KEY: Making sure the flash cards are not too hard for your child. They will get discouraged quickly if they can’t read any. (sounds simple enough ….lol… but I made that mistake)
Making a list of the words they do know how to read – you can simply make your own, like the ones above. (I didn’t make the ones above, but they are an easy idea to copy)
- “Reading Sticker Chart”
This is the first time ever that I’ve made a reading chart. I’m a little embarrassed to show it but as I already know what to change for next year (1st mistake being I made WAY to many squares LOL … can we say “ambitious”)
But the entire reading chart idea is a copy cat from what the grade 1 & 2 do at school. If you read for at LEAST 10 mins you get to put up a sticker. Every 5th square is outlined in red, when they have enough stickers to reach a red outlined square the child gets to pick a little surprise from the little surprise container. Things like; dollar store pencils, stickers, candy, a little toy, 4 nerf gun bullets, 2 hockey cards etc. When the child has enough stickers on the reading chart to hit a yellow square (spaced in 25’s) they get to pick a surprise from the BIG surprise container. Things like; a little Barbie doll, a big pack of hockey card, little LEGO set, etc. Before the summer started I went shopping and filled up my 2 surprise containers. After I organized them at home I allowed the kids to see what was in each container to help “fuel the fire.”
KEY: Knowing what will motivate your kids for reading rewards.
Then they will be begging to read to you. Just be ready to sit down and take the time!! It’s not a competition between the kids but a self motivating program to get them to the place where they will be independently reading in no time.
KEY: Make sure your reading books are not to difficult for your young scholars.
Sam’s teacher was kind enough to send him home with a stack of reading books when I ask her “WHAT DO WE READ?” You can find the right books by buying some online, with a bit of trial and error, or go to your local library and see what they can offer. (Library = something we need to do more often!)
Last comment I have to make is that I clear out one of my kitchen cabinets for me to store all of our “Home School Work” in. Making it very easy and within reach, but not so easy in the kids reach. Also this is a great way to remind ME! because all of their stuff is in my space!
This is not a bragging post or me saying I have a house full of scholars. We do skip lots of summer days, with either “Home School Work” or “Reading” But maybe you’ll be inspired to start something new or inspired with some different ideas to add to your already blossoming collection. Even though we’ve hit 1/2 way through summer = NEVER to late to start! Don’t be discouraged by the days that it doesn’t happen but be encouraged to start or be encouraged to keep on going!
Happy MidSummer Busy Mom!
By: Sharon Schuler