Friday, June 15, 2012

Our Summer Learning

I promised that I would post about our summer routine and what we do for summer learning.  I love summer especially for this learning time.  I am thankful that my children attend a good school where values are still taught and expected and the community where I live reflects that.  Our state does not have set requirements for what children need to learn in music and art and even science in the lower grades.  Our school's teachers do try to incorporate these subjects with the core curriculum as much as possible.  However, I see that these "extras" are lacking in some areas.

For example, in art, they mostly do craft projects.  They haven't learned about the elements of art, like color, line, movement, balance, etc.  They know nothing of art history or influential artists from history.  So I take it upon myself during the summer months to teach them these things.  I have a little bit knowledge in art myself having taking a few courses and really loving that subject area, so I'm able to teach them what I know and research what I don't know.  I do this with music and science and cultural studies as well.

I am a very structured person, so it's pretty easy for me to formulate a summer routine of chores and summer learning with my kids.  First of all, I determine what subjects they need to review during the summer and which ones I will teach them.  They need to read every day and it's good for them to review language arts and math.  I also like them to practice their handwriting in the summer months because they tend to get sloppy by the end of the school year and they need that constant practice.  So each day they do some practice pages in these areas, either in a workbook I have found for them or pages that I have printed from the Internet.  We alternate days, doing language arts twice a week, math twice a week, and handwriting one day.  Fridays are for art, science, social studies, and music and any other non-core-subject learning.  Every day we also have a piano lesson (each child has a different day for their lesson) and the rest of them practice the piano.  We do all these things before they can have their freedom to go play.  Also, once a week the older boys have karate and the younger two (not the baby though) have gymnastics.  Starting next week we will focus on a foreign culture for a week, learning history and culture and ending the week by having a meal from that culture.

Here is our basic routine:

6:30-7:00 am      Wake up, make beds, say morning prayers, get dressed

7:00 am    Family Scripture Reading and Prayer (this is the main reason we get up early even in the summer.  We like to have scripture reading and prayer at the beginning of the day otherwise it usually doesn't happen.  We have to have it before Daddy goes to work, and he leaves at 7:15 am.)

7:15 am    Eat Breakfast/Brush Teeth/Reading Time (about 20-30 minutes, starting with personal scripture reading)

7:45/8:00 am    Learning Time--Piano lessons and practicing during schoolwork time; Monday and Wednesday are for Language Arts review; Tuesday and Thursdays are for math; Wednesday there is also a handwriting page.  Later in the summer we will probably do some creative writing as well.  I do one child each day for a piano lesson Monday through Thursday and the rest do practice time after the lesson is over, taking turns.  On Fridays, we do Music Theory together instead of a lesson and then they take turns practicing.  We also do art on Fridays.  Starting next week, after everyone has done their individual reviews and piano practicing, we will do a mini lesson on a foreign culture.

9:00 am    We are usually done with all learning time by 9:00 am. This is when we have a snack and run some errands or have some free time.  The baby goes down for his morning nap.

10:00 am    Tuesdays gymnastics for two of the kids, Wednesdays karate for two of the kids.
Wednesdays there is playgroup at this time and sometimes there are things going on at this time  for the other days as well.  Mornings are busy.

12:00 pm     Lunchtime, then baby's nap.  After lunch the kids will often play the Wii during the baby's nap.  
They earn their Wii time by earning tokens from their daily routine.   They pay me one token for fifteen minutes of Wii time and are limited to 30 minutes of Wii time each per day.  I set the timer for them.

1:30 pm      The rest of the day is free time until dinner.  They play outside, blow bubbles, bake, play with Legos, play at a friend's, have a friend over, etc.  Sometimes we'll take a family bike ride or go to the park.  When we join the pool for a month in July we'll go there almost every day in the afternoon.

Of course, some days we don't follow this exact schedule and we vary it up.  Like yesterday, after morning learning time, we took one of my kids to a doctor's appointment that happened to be near the zoo, so then we went to the zoo when the appointment was done and spent the morning there. 

Here is a copy of our daily routine, for which they earn tokens:

They earn one token for each set of activities that is surrounded by a black box.  So they can earn three tokens a day and can use two tokens a day for playing the Wii.  The chores vary depending on the week, as we have a weekly rotating chore system.  The Saturday chore and the level of chore changes too.  This is our first week of using this system for their daily routine.  Two of my kids are eating up being able to check off boxes and earn tokens and two of them don't seem to really care about it at all.  So we'll see how it goes this summer as this is the first summer I've implemented such a structured routine.


swedemom said...


Anonymous said...

That's WAY to structured for me or my kids for summer time. I like routines a lot but summer means being a little less structured. But then it looks like my kids are a lot older than yours (3 teenagers) and getting up at 6:30-7:00 in the summer to them would be considered cruel. I like the mornings in the summer because everyone sleeps in and it's QUIET!! I get a lot done during those quiet hours and I wouldn't trade them for anything.


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