Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Well-Planned Life

The calendar says that it is May and summer break has begun for all of the surrounding schools.  As a homeschooler, it is not so much the end of learning for another school year, but a different approach to learning that marks the beginning of this sunny season for our family. 
We are completing our seventh year of homeschooling and I've realized the need to be purposeful in making my summer plans lest September come and we wonder what happened to my best intentions for summer.  I can remember dreaming of painted bedrooms, math facts memorized and spontaneous, yet memorable summer fun.  Truth be told, my days would get away from me and the children would often wander around until they settled in front of an available television.
As a result, I began employing my list-making skills and each summer I create lists for everything from chores to books and from home projects to vacation spots.  Admittedly, this Type A approach to summer can appear restrictive; however, it is freeing from the aspect that our days are usefully employed and at the end of summer we arrive close to our intended destination.
While not all of my lists are complete at this point, I want to share those that are with you.

Book Lists:

Each of my independent readers has a specifically chosen reading list.  By no means will it be all-inclusive of the books they will delve into this summer.  Instead, it is composed of a variety of books that I want to use to stretch their reading skills and interests. 
The first place I look for potential reads is on the shelves of our bookcases.  We have so many great books that we don't get to during the regular school year either because we don't have the time or they don't lend themselves well to our current topics in history and science.
Nestled on my shelves I found:  Depend on Katie John, The Middle Sister, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for our daughter.  For my son, I pulled:  Gentle Ben, Little Britches, Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, and Indians, Indians, Indians

Then I open my copy of Honey for a Child's Heart beside my laptop.  I search our local library for additional books that might interest them.  This enables me to steer them to quality books when we go to the library.  Two summers ago, my son was reading Diary of an Early American Boy while his contemporaries had their noses buried in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (Later, he listed E. Am. Boy as one of his all-time favorite books!)  Personally, I believe life is too short to waste one's time reading twaddle!

Summer Fun:

The next area that I have learned to plan is our general summer activities.  In the past, I would scribble lists into a notebook and periodically check it for ideas.  However, as the summer progressed, I often forgot about the list and would find it round about September full of beautiful unfilled dreams.  This year, I took a tip from three sisters who have a blog called eighteen25.  It involved writing the list in permanent marker on the glass of a picture frame and checking it off as it is completed. 
I sat down and made a list that ranged from activities I knew we were going to do to things that I had hoped to do last summer and never got around to doing.  Some ideas we had were to visit each of the parks in our town, explore our local historical museum, paint birdhouses, and host a kids-only flea market for our friends.  I also included a few rainy day activities so we don't fall prey to the video rental store!  (Unless, of course, we choose to have a home movie theater that day complete with tickets, popcorn and a darkened room.)
eighteen25 -- Summer To Do list

Budget Calendar:

One of the big bummers for our family is planning bigger vacation than our budget allows and having to scale back after we've already gotten excited about things.  This summer that was certainly going to be the case once I realized that not only does our 33' x 13' deck need replaced, but so do the 14' (special-order) pillars for the front porch.
In order to help my husband and me see what the expenses were going to be, I printed out calendars for the months of May through August.  On the appropriate dates, I penciled our scheduled activities and the cost of each one of them.  For activities like piano lessons which span the summer, I just wrote the cost at the beginning of the summer.  For trips I was careful to include hotel costs, gas, food, and any entrance fees.  We also made a separate list of home repair expenses.  This took some serious computer time, but it was worth is so that we were in agreement about how to budget our money for the summer.

Summer Chores and Bores (aka schoolwork):

Much to my children's delight, I haven't had the time to sit down and revise our summer chore charts or even begin thinking about specific educational goals for the summer.  We are winding up our school year and I want to keep my focus on that.  For the time being, we will complete this year's school books and continue with our regular chores. I hope to work on my summer plans within the next two weeks.

I had marvelous plans to put pictures in this post.  I couldn't get the camera to focus and we discovered that the last child who used our digital camera to make a video damaged the zoom, so no great photos, but possibly a new camera in our near future!

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