We’re experiencing our first summer break. I’ll be honest, six years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined this day would have ever arrived. I was holding a squishy little baby who was utterly perfect. That first summer together, I was able to build a schedule around what worked for me and her.
We’d hit up our library’s story time, meet up with a baby group in our area, do a free baby swim time, or go grocery shopping at our leisure. The best part was that if neither one of us felt like heading out, we could simply stay home and cuddle, read books together, and eat delicious meals. There were no time constraints other than trying to have dinner done on time, and it was lovely. (I’m choosing to forget all the times I was panicked because I missed an event I wanted us to go to or the times I was worried thinking I wasn’t giving her enough exposure to friends and just being mellow ok?)
A part of me will always long for those days of peaceful freedom. However, I have a strong-willed six-year-old who has spent her first academic year at a nature school. I knew she’d have stern expectations regarding her summer activities. Having a discussion about what our days would look like was very important to me. Her school functions on the belief that children should have a say in what is being taught so their interests are explored and shared.
I sat down with my daughter and told her about my idea. In order to ensure that she got enough outside time and to keep a rhythm to our summer, I thought it would be best to do themed days. I’m going to be completely honest with you; I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I did what most of us do and took to Google to search for themed summer days. It came up with a bunch of results, most of them pretty similar, but it gave me the starting point needed to build our ‘perfect’ summer plan.
Make it Mondays
The focus is on creating, building, or something with a science vibe. This means we can bake, cook, build with legos, create an epic blanket fort, or do art and crafts. I threw baking onto this day for two reasons, a) I love to make and then eat baked goods, and b) this gives us a reason to go grocery store shopping in case we didn’t get shopping done over the weekend. My oldest loathes going to the store unless there’s something in it for her. I always grab a snack for myself, so I get the need for a bribe. If we don’t head to the store, then it’s a day where we stay home and ‘relax’.
Another day where the only place we’ll do a trip out for is the library or a trip for a specific reason. Let me explain; we want to focus on reading and math on Tuesdays. We came up with a project where we’d draw my daughter’s room on grid paper and make each box 1 foot. We’d then take a tape measurer to Ikea (which is oddly her favorite store) and measure different pieces of furniture she’d like to have in her room. If a bed was 5 feet long and 2 feet wide, we’d color in a square for each foot and label the item. This would help her see how much space she has left for other items she’d want to have in her room. I haven’t come up with a fun idea for reading yet, but I know we’ll get there. If you open my template, you’ll notice that the dessert we’ll get on Friday is dependent upon her completing both her math and reading lesson or project that day.
What summer schedule wouldn’t be complete without a day focused entirely on getting soaked? Consequently, Wednesday is the only day that starts with a W, and I like alliteration. On Wednesdays, we venture out to any place where we can get wet. Whether it be getting a day pass to the Y, hitting up a splash pad, or hooking up our sprinkler in the front yard, the deal is that she gets to get soaked, and I will always carry an extra change of clothes and a first aid kit. If I can sneak in another lesson, like how many cups of water would it take to fill up this kiddie pool, or can you help me spell out cat with the hose, I’ll give myself an extra gold star for the day.
Her school, aptly named The Nature School, instilled a wonderful and thriving love of nature in my daughter. I’m forever grateful for everything they did for her throughout the year. To that end, I wanted to ensure that we had one day in our week when I brought her back to nature so that we can continue learning and exploring. She has taught me so much about finding tracks, the life cycle of animals, and what happens when you litter (be forewarned, she will call you out if she sees you littering). No matter where we choose to go to a state park, a trail, or a long hike, I want to ensure that she reconnects with her third home.
This is our curveball day. We can make plans with friends to meet at a park. We can grab our spare swimsuit (because, let’s be honest, I probably haven’t washed the ones from Wednesday just yet) and hit up another splash pad or pool. We can stay home and do something like make special treats or play with our pups or cat. The choice is up to my daughter, and I’ll only make an edit depending on health, weather, or cost.
If my daughter didn’t fight the reading and math lesson from earlier in the week, we’ll ensure that we carve out time for grabbing a special dessert. Our current go-to is grabbing ice cream, but I could see that changing to a raspa (snow cone) once I find one that reminds me of home.
I’ll be honest we’ve only had this schedule in place for a week, and it’s already changed due to friends being able to gather at the last minute, a lovely stomach bug that I came down with, and a date night that my husband and I forgot we scheduled. But every morning this week, my daughter has woken up and asked, “What’s our theme for today?”
She’s excited about the prospect of her day, and I’m happy to at least have an answer for her. If you’re struggling with how to set your summer up, I implore you to do a quick search online and find a template to work from. Work together with your kiddo(s) and go over their own ideas of what they’d like their summer to look like. I hope that you can work together to create your own magical summer!