I was thinking of calling this post, “Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig” since some of my kids were in public school this year and now they are home again for the summer. But then I realized that a lot of moms who read this blog are home schooling all of their children, and it would be more like, “Home Still, Home Still, Jiggety Jig.” Not quite the same effect, eh? Anyway, here we are at summertime, and as much as I would like to do nothing except piddle around at my leisure, there is stuff to do and, as the mom, I’m the one to get it rolling. Here are a few things that moms like me have to cram in, along with some helpful web sites…
Keep kids’ brain waves active. This includes reading for pleasure, going on field trips, learning a new skill through hands-on projects, sharpening their techie skills on the computer, or reviewing basic academic skills. For the latter, some of us have unfinished curriculum left over from the regular school year that can tide us over, or you can buy a colorful workbook from Sam’s Club or your teacher supply store. Then there is also educational software, either on-line (much of it free) or on CD-ROM. There are still plenty of educational shows on PBS, too, as well as a closet full of educational videos.
- Summer Writing with Journals and Blogs
- Penguins: A Perfectly Cool Unit Study for Hot Summers
|Wading in Lake Lily|
Make sure the kids get in enough outdoor time for fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. I am quite content to have them play outside with neighbors, ride their skateboards, dig around in the yard (as long as they fill their holes and wipe their feet). It would be nice if the digging included planting a garden, but maybe that’s a bit ambitious right now. Sure sounds noble, though. We can go to local parks and playgrounds, too. I said we’d spend a lot of time at the YMCA this summer, but I haven’t been really good at that yet. If you can’t afford a YMCA membership, you can apply for a scholarship based on income and family size.
Take some trips as a family, or send the kids on them. Two of our boys are at church camp in North Carolina right now, two of the younger kids are going to VBS day camp at church next month, and one daughter is flying out to San Francisco for several days with my mom and my niece. We’ll tuck in a beach trip or two, and maybe head out to Rock Springs to go tubing. One of my daughters is a Disney employee, so she’s been taking her brothers and sisters in free two or three at a time. There are all sorts of freebie and cheap activities in our area.
- Tips for Your Trips: Planning a Vacation to Enjoy Rather than Endure
- Car games and activities: www.momsminivan.com/
- Florida Field Trips
Plan ahead for the next school year. For me this means, first of all, deciding who is going where, whether it is home school co-op or public school. It’s not set in stone yet, which is sort of unsettling for me. I used to be a “over my dead body will my kids go to public school” sort of mom, especially since I’ve home schooled 10 kids over a 20 year period, and I’ve written the books and blogs about it. But when the time came for some of them to go, public school was a Godsend, and I really have no major complaints about our experience. It’s different for each family, actually even each child, each year. I just wish I already knew exactly what to do this next year. Oh well. At some point in the next few weeks, I’ll just have to take whatever wisdom and insight I have (after consulting with husband, children, and other trusted peeps) and call it like I see it. As I learned last year, you can put kids into public elementary school after the year starts or pull them out before it ends. I did both — one starting in November, two starting in January, and one back out in April. I do know I am teaching an English class in our home school co-op, so I need to finish picking out the books we will use. I will also compile a list of all of the curriculum my own kids will need so we can get it ordered on time for classes. If we were not doing the co-op, I would have even more fun planning my own history unit studies. I loved the year we took off to just do our own thing, but unfortunately I can’t do that this time.
Make adjustments for special needs. You will have to plan your school options extra carefully if you have children with learning disabilities or mental health issues such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, OCD, Down Syndrome, autism spectrum, auditory processing disorders, speech/diction difficulties, visual tracking problems, sensitivities caused by food allergies, etc. You might not even be aware that there is a problem or just be chalking it up to general quirkiness, but try to clue in to the symptoms and do your research. Don’t hesitate to get extra help from an educational consultant or counselor. If you don’t have insurance and can’t afford counseling, speech therapy, or opthamology that your child really needs in order to succeed, I strongly encourage you to apply for Medicaid or, in Florida, the state-subsidized Kid Care insurance. Even if you home school, you can often get special ed services like speech therapy a la carte through the public schools.
- National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network: http://www.nathhan.com/
- Struggling Learner page at Home School Legal Defense: http://www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner
- Florida Kid Care subsidized insurance: www.floridakidcare.org/ (If your income is low enough, they will approve you for Medicaid automatically.)
Make appointments with doctors, dentists, counselors, educational consultants, etc. This is prime time to get it done. Next week we have seven appointments in a three day period, and that’s not even everything we need to do.
Archive or discard last year’s school papers and workbooks. Whether it was from home schooling or from public school, we don’t need to keep it all. After 20 years of school with 10 kids, we simply can’t keep it all. This paper wrangling has been a huge job for me, and I’ve given up on doing it like a perfectionist, having everything in chronological and subject order. Unless it is something they personally want to look at later, like an interesting history or science study, I just pull it all out of their notebooks and folders, throw away anything I don’t think I’ll need for an official paper trail, and stuff the rest into big brown 9×12 envelopes. Then I’ll find a box or bin to stash it in and put it in the storage room.
|Art supply shelf
(missing a few bins)
Organize the house, room by room. I have especially been working on media like books, DVDs & VHS tapes, photo albums (digital or print), CD-ROMs. I finally set up a desk for myself, which you can read about here: A Desk for Mom. In our dining / resource room, I moved the art supplies and drawing books to a different set of shelves to make them accessible. (Each kind of item — colored pencils, crayons, markers, stencils, colored paper, decorative edged scissors, etc — has its own bin, but sometimes they disappear to other rooms.) The books are a never ending challenge around here, especially with a six year old who is still in the extreme scattering stage. Do I still really need all of those (over a thousand?) books anymore? Those full bookcases organized by subject are a home school mom’s pride and joy, but I’m just not feeling that compulsion to keep all of it. I want to simplify and only keep what we will really use rather than just stand there and admire it and yet feel guilty that we’re not reading all of it and probably never will. We’ve been buying more clothes at thrift stores lately, too, so I need to go through our old stuff and get rid of or store a lot of it. Some web sites and my blog posts about home organization:
- I’m an Organizing Junkie
- Organized Home
- A Place for Everything
- Household Organization: Clutter, Clothes Storage and Chores
- Organizing with Plastic Zip-Style Bags at Home and On the Go
- “Bin There, Done That” (Or How to Keep School Clutter from Turning You Into a Basketcase)
Revamp the chore schedule and work on other responsibilities like personal hygiene. I made a handy chart for each child so they can earn an allowance for the first time — but we have (pitifully) pretty much forgotten to check it off. Maybe we’ll get the hang of it. I’m great for making plans and charts and lists, and not always so great about following through.
I hope this has been helpful and not too overwhelming. Frankly, I feel overwhelmed just thinking about all I still need to get done in less than two months left of summer with my wild and crazy kids. And maybe that’s where you are too, or maybe if not you, someone you know. Maybe you can help them out. Maybe someone can help you out. Sit and talk about curriculum, scheduling, learning disabilities and/or family dynamics.
As for me, I am taking my summer step by step, a little here, a little there. Yes, I have to keep with the school prep and laundry and cooking and child training (and retraining) and all of the other daily stuff, but I’m also trying to give myself a chance to breathe and relax before I plunge headlong into the full school schedule of autumn. I’m looking forward to my mom and niece arriving this evening for almost a week, and all of us celebrating my grandson’s birthday party this weekend. I’m looking forward to flying up with one of my daughters to a family reunion and seeing a lot of my sweet relatives in Maryland and Pennsylvania next month. Bright spots mean a lot.
In the middle of everything, I am especially trying to renew my hope, enthusiasm, clarity, and vision for mothering and home schooling. How about you?