We are homeschooling year-round (you can read why here), but that doesn’t mean we don’t take time to enjoy the summer and the activities that aren’t available throughout the year. I am, however, trying to keep our summer list pretty simple this year for a few reasons.
To start with, this is our first year formally schooling year round, so I want there to be as little stress as possible. Additionally, tasks I assign myself are bound to make me feel as though I need to complete them. As I remind my kids, if we’re not enjoying it, what’s the point of it being a “fun” activity? Stress is not fun. A grouchy parent, likewise, is not fun.
Secondly, I’d like it to be a successful list. Fewer activities that don’t require too much, are far more likely to be done.
Lastly, I’m working on a more minimalistic mindset. This is a huge challenge for me. It isn’t necessary or desirable to fill every moment of every day with an activity. We’d be worn out by the first week. And summer is a great time to just enjoy the day and whatever it may bring. So, not too original, but very true, less is more.
With that said, I do want to make the season stand out from the others. I also like to have some special activities ready for when needed.
So, here is our list of
10 Things to Do This Summer:
- Swimming. By whatever body of water finds us, pools, the ocean, a lake, summer is the time of swimming. The kids could spend all day in the water, and if we had our own pool, I would probably leave off the next nine items from this list – okay, maybe just seven. But as we do not have our own pool, this does take some effort in gathering the gear, the sunscreen, towels, etc. and driving someplace. To make this a little easier, I have actually put together a swim bag. So, other than slathering on the sunscreen, I just have to gather everyone together, and get us into the car.
- Movies. The movie theater by us offers rereleased movies at the price of one dollar. That’s hard to pass up, especially since we tend to wait for movies to come to video before seeing them. So, this gives us a chance to see some of our favorites on the big screen. And at a dollar entry, a cool atmosphere, and low volume crowds, this is a winner for us. I’ve noticed that most of the major movie theaters are participating in these types of summer offerings.
- Explore your state. With the exorbitant increase in costs for travel during the summer, not to mention the crowds, it’s the rare summer that we look to vacation away from home. But there are many unusual tourist sites in every state. One of my new goals is to try and explore one or two of the most interesting tourist sites each year. And since we live in the state, we have that freedom of going at the last minute, or when we know fewer people would be visiting that particular site.
- Visit the Library. Many libraries continue hosting programs throughout the summer. Some of the programs that I’ve seen are Lego Build Clubs, Chess Club, Book Discussions, and drop-in projects. A cool place away from home to do things with other folks, that’s a pretty good deal for free.
- Reading. Well this had to come after a visit to the library. It is a bit of a cheat though, I admit, as we are always reading. But summer offers a new variety of places to read. I’m hoping we find a great outdoors place where we can bring a picnic and a stack of books, and just enjoy some time with one of our favorite past times. And there’s always the possibility of location reading, use the setting of the book to find a location for a great read aloud.
- Obstacle course build. This doesn’t need to involve any extra supplies, though it obviously could. Rearrange some folding chairs, maybe use some towels to drape over for tunnels, create a sprinkler water hazard, it’s easy to let the imagination go. And kids are overflowing with imagination.
- Planetarium and Museum visits. My only reservation with these is being able to plan around the summer camp visits. Personally, I always tend to land on the same day as some big outing, but our timing usually has us there when they’re having lunch or preparing to leave. I figure avoiding early arrival is my best bet, and we’ve had success with that for the most part. Other than the large summer groups, this is a great activity for those absurdly hot days or during that week when the rainfall seems endless. Don’t forget to check any local nearby colleges too, some also have planetariums and even museums associated with them.
- Create something. We have a box of scrap wood, at least one bag of fabric scraps, a bin of recyclables, I think you get the picture. Some items I was asked to save, others looked interesting enough to be worthy of storage. Summer is here, and it’s time some of these things found a creative use. So, I let them loose with these items and our art supplies.
- Attend a Play or Other Live Performance. This doesn’t necessarily need to fall in summer, but there happens to be a local community group that puts on plays with scaled down run times for kids. We typically attend at least one live, full performance during the year. But it can be a nice treat to add in a shorter, local, live performance, at an easy to manage price. It makes it so easy that it offers the opportunity to go more than once. Also, many communities have free evening concerts in the summer. It’s a great way to expose the kids to different types of music.
- Kid’s List of Things to Do. Always looking for opportunities to incorporate some life skills, I have the kids come up with their own lists of what they would like to be sure we do this summer. They figure out the details, if we need to have anything special on hand or if we need to coordinate with friends. It’s their summer as well, and this thinking helps bring up any special activities that might not be thought of otherwise. Plus, they get some special attention in choosing a family activity.
And, just one more:
11. Not Planning Every Moment. I do not plan every moment for the kids. There isn’t a plan for everyday of the summer. I let them be bored. Let them figure out what to do with their time. This is best for everyone. They figure out how to be discerning with their free time and how to amuse themselves. And I don’t go nuts trying to create some perfect summer. I don’t have to create it. It’s summer, and even with our studies, there’s plenty of free time, good weather, and great friends to visit that it will all work out with fond memories at the end.
So, I hope that you have a wonderful summer.