Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Plans -- newsletter article

Summer Plans

Many homeschoolers take the summer "off" from school. Even if you school year around, though, summer is usually a time to
(1) relax and refresh oneself after the busy-ness of the year
(2) reorganize and prepare for next year.

Of course, everyone has different ways of going about these processes; the following ideas are meant to give you a start:

  1. Look through books and materials for next year. If you haven't bought your curriculum for next year yet, now is a good time to do it. This will give you a chance to look them over before school actually is about to start. You might want to keep a notebook beside you to write down ideas for lesson review, supplemental reading, or notes on how to present the material. It's particularly helpful to note the general goals for the course as stated in the course outline or in the book itself. This becomes the overarching "theme" for that subject for that year. I also spend some time blocking out my calendar for next year, planning vacation time, birthdays, or whatever else I know is in the future.
  2. Re-arrange your work space. Were there any strategic problems this year? Pencils not around when you needed them? Loose papers getting lost? Toddler getting into the art supplies? Summer is a good time to tackle these ongoing irritations. It's also a good time to get rid of or store the extra things that are just clutter, and at the same time, make a list of things that are needed, whether school supplies or shelving space. While you are rearranging, it is easy to do a good cleaning. Get your kids involved.
  3. Spend time with your family. Every family has different ideas of fun, but all families can benefit both from some lazy, long days and from some fun family activities. My family likes to hike and observe nature close up --you may prefer swimming pools or camping trips. The goal is recharging your batteries and building relationships with each other.
  4. Observe your children. While you are spending time having fun with your children, you have a good opportunity to get to know them better. What do they like to do, and choose to do? What are their strengths and weaknesses? As a busy homeschooling mom, sometimes I forget to do this during the school year, but slower times give me a chance to reconnect, and notice what is unique about my particular blessings from God. I like to keep informal notes about what I observe; this is certainly not a necessity though. I find that the more conscious I am of my child's temperament, talents and preferred activities, the easier it is to work with him on academic and spiritual issues. It also is an aid to building a close relationship.
  5. Most of all, pray. I saved this for last because it has been by far the most beneficial "summer improvement project" I have done. The suggestions above, and any other summer priorities you have, can be informed and sanctified by offering them to God. Bring your concerns and anxieties to Our Savior and to Our Blessed Mother. Ask them to guide you as you work through your preparations for next year, and to bless your leisure time. Going to some daily Masses as a family, or to an hour of Adoration of the Sacrament, will bring great rewards.

Kolbe recommends a family retreat before the start of each school year. By using your summer projects to reflect on God's plans for your children and your homeschool, you can make the whole summer into a preparation for this retreat and for the next school year.

I hope these ideas give you a start in planning your summer.

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