My daughter is wrapping up her final, full week of second grade today, which means that summer is officially just around the corner! I experience the same conflicting emotions every year at this time: excitement about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time, and terror about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time.
I love the idea of lazy, unstructured days – sleeping in, showering late, and not having to be anywhere, at any particular time. In practice, though, I’ve learned that what really happens is that I sit around reading for a couple of hours in the morning, feel gross because I haven’t showered, accomplish very little all day, and field endless “what are we doing today?” queries from my daughter. It might be different if we had more than one child, but without a home-based playmate, my daughter gets bored and lonely.
These are the tools I’ll be using to balance lazy time, socialization, learning, and fun for my daughter this summer:
Socialization is important for all kids, but especially so for an only child like my daughter. This summer she’ll be participating in five weeks of (day) camp: two, two-week sessions of children’s theater camp, and one week of Girl Scout camp. Both of these camps will provide lots of socialization, plus activities that she loves and cannot do at home.
Since most kids forget a decent chunk of what they learned the previous school year over the summer, I think it’s important to build in some learning activities throughout the summer weeks. Daily reading is a given, and our library has a great summer reading program that keeps my daughter motivated. (See below.) In past years, I’ve purchased workbooks for her to practice her skills, but this year I want to keep it a bit lighter. I’m going to have her write a letter or postcard to someone different each week, since spelling is a skill she needs to practice.
Last summer, her school sent home a summer math challenge, which she did. We kept track of the days she did 20 minutes or more of math activities, and she received a prize in September. We played a lot of the game Math Dice last summer, and since she still enjoys it, I’m sure we’ll play it again this year. Her class studied both money and telling time this spring, so I’d like to create some activities around those skills. (Please send any ideas you have my way!) And I may check out some other games, including this one, this one, and this one. With or without a school math challenge, regular math practice will also be part of our plan.
We have a week-long vacation in Quebec planned. We’re going to Mont Tremblant, which is a ski resort during the winter months, and a family vacation spot during the summer. It should be a nice blend of relaxing, sightseeing, and activities.
Library Summer Reading Program
This will be my daughter’s fourth year participating in our library’s summer reading program. Kids log the number of minutes they read, go to the library to report on what they’ve read to a “book buddy”, and receive “book bucks”, which they can redeem for prizes. My daughter is highly motivated by rewards, so this program is right up her alley.
There are a number of playgrounds and splash pads in our area, and my daughter enjoys all of them. Of course, they’re a lot more fun to do with friends, so we’ll meet up with them as often as possible. Last year I sent out group emails/texts, letting people know where we’d be and when. Sometimes a big group of friends showed up, sometimes one friend showed up, and sometimes it was just us. I’ll be doing this again this year, for sure.
What are your family’s plans for the summer? Do you keep it unstructured, or plan out your days and weeks?
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