Summer Planning: The Daily Thing

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For the past few years we’ve done just a little bit of school every day during the summertime — reading, half a lesson of math, and maybe some typing or another random thing we particularly ignored during the school year. There’s also time to do daily chores, work in the garden and have some outdoor play.  Our typical plan allows a bit more free time than our school year schedule, but is structured enough that kids don’t wander around complaining of boredom.  It also keeps math concepts fresh in kids’ heads, and makes jumping back into the fall routine less painful.

However in thinking of this summer, I want something even more laid back, and I’d like to give kids some practice at scheduling their own time.  We’ll still garden together for an hour in the morning before it gets hot. Mealtimes will still be set with an automatic 30 minutes of cleanup after each meal.  (That’s when laundry is tossed in the washer, the living room gets vacuumed, the kitchen is swept, etc).  But I’m going to let kids arrange other activities in whatever order they prefer. And those activities will be way more simple than in other years:  basically kids will be responsible for 2 hours of reading, and 1 hour of ‘The Daily Thing”. After that, their time is their own.

Here’s what I have in mind for The Daily Thing:

Monday -MUSIC DAY- Kids can play guitar and/or piano for an hour.  A couple kids will be doing piano or guitar for the first time this summer, and I’m planning to pay teens to give younger siblings a lesson every couple weeks, to get them started with note reading and learning chords. Of course kids can also do music other days, but I want to make sure it happens once a week at least.

Tues/Thurs -MATH- There will be 2 days of math each week, with one lesson each day. This should be adequate to keep skills sharp.

Wednesday -SPELLING/WRITING- Spelling will focus on commonly misspelled words.  We’ll probably do some word searches, etc, to make it a bit more fun.  Once or twice a month I’ll also have kids fill out some kind of a book report form on a recently-read book.  Better spellers will probably do more book reports and less spelling.

Friday -CREATE- This day provoked smiles from some of my kids and groans from others.  Possible activities include: knitting, crochet, drawing, simple carpentry, painting, clay modeling, etc.  If kids choose something carpentry-related, it’ll probably be with scrap wood, and they’ll need to get it approved with dad earlier in the week.  Occasionally I may arrange a group craft, but most of the time kids will decide on their own what they’d like to create. To the right is a recent project by my 16 year old daughter– she loves to crochet!

It remains to be seen how this loose schedule will work for us, but I’m hoping it will make for a laid-back pace and give kids some practice at scheduling their own time wisely.

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  1. I love this plan and do something similar in the summer. My question: If you let them plan their own “timing” of the daily thing, how will you monitor compliance/completion? I only have six kids, but I find this to be very challenging unless we are all on the same schedule. I would love to hear your ideas!

    • Good question! I’ve had that issue in the past too. I’m going to make them each a daily checklist, laminated, and have them use a dry-erase pen to mark things off. Also, I told kids that they will get to choose their own schedule as long as they are responsible, so hopefully that will motivate them to make good choices…
      I’m expecting that my 7 and 10 year old kids will need the most supervision, and I’m hoping the teens will generally be responsible for themselves, but we’ll see…

  2. I love these ideas! I think I’ll try to do something similar this summer. About the reading, do you have even the younger ones read for 2 hours? My kids love to read when it is their idea, but if I scheduled 2 hours for them, I know they would really balk about it. Right now I have them scheduled for 30 minutes daily plus reading before lights out at night. How did you get your kids to be okay with that longer time frame? Also do you schedule certain books or do they read whatever they want?

    Thanks, I love reading your blog. 🙂


    • During the school year our reading requirement is 1 hour, but they’ll have more free time this summer. The kids over 13 will read 2 hours a day, in several different blocks if they wish. Some of my kids are the type to love reading 2 hours, but the ones who don’t want to do it get to do it anyway because it is good for them and I’m the mom. (John and I run a benevolent dictatorship) 🙂 Our 7 year old will probably read to me for 20-30 min, and our 10 year old will read at least an hour. Usually I’ll choose every other book or every 3rd book myself, and they can pick the rest themselves.

  3. kimberly says:

    We’ve been doing a daily “project” time these last few weeks and the kids have loved it. My main rule is that you have to create something. Create order from a mess, a paper airplane, a sketch, a craft, a robot, a poem, a photograph or other things along those lines. I let them listen to stories or music as long as creating is still happening. It allows me to ease into the day with the baby and their creativity is fun to watch! Occasionally I am asked for an idea from from my stash on Pinterest.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for this post, Mary! We began homeschooling halfway through this schoolyear, so we plan to continue most subjects through the summer. However, I love your laid-back idea with “The Daily Thing”. Sounds like something we could pull off 🙂

  5. Mary, this sounds like a fabulous idea. Even though we don’t home school, I may try this over the summer. My girls (especially the oldest) tend to get grumpy on breaks because they thrive in the structure of school. May be a sanity saver for all of us this summer.

  6. I really like your 30 minute cleanup after each meal. I often tell my kids to pick up 3 extra things at the table, and my 10 year old think he can put 3 serving spoons in the dishwasher and be done! But if everyone has to put in 30 minutes of time – I think that would be great and we’d all be working together! Thanks!

  7. Idalia Almond says:

    Once when I was feeling like a failure, my uncle told me that our family doesn’t fail – even when we fail – we’re failing for the right reason -and this is one of the most profound pieces of advice I have used along the way – from one of my “crazy uncles’. I love hearing how others use their challenges to help them grow… I too have been connecting the dots of my past to see where I am right now! I’m about to sign a lease that will change my life & my life purpose forever, I’m a little nervous. I’m more excited because I know no matter what by stepping up to the experience is going to lead to more success. Love your blog – Love your experiences!


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