The Beginner’s Guide to a Summer Schedule for kids
School is out. It’s summertime, and as a teacher, I go from working in a classroom to full-time stay at home mom. I like structure, but I like the lazy moments that we all look forward to when summer comes around. Turning off the alarm is a highlight of my summer as well as doing what I want, whenever I want. However, with four kids, that tends to backfire on me if I don’t have some schedule or plan in place.
The day ends with fights, probably yelling, a meal left too late, and the “B” word, BOREDOM! If I do anything over the summer, it is to keep the word “bored” from being uttered from my kids’ lips. Let’s be realistic, though. They’re going to say it. So, it’s better if I have something in place to combat boredom before it sets in. Even as a teacher I have to remind myself that their little brains are growing. We have to help guide them to come up with ideas and turn old ideas into new ones. Sometimes it takes a little imagination from us for them to catch on and run with it.
Mom, the Camp Counselor
When my friends ask me what I’m doing for the summer, I say, “I’m the camp counselor.” You can imagine the look of confusion on their face. Why I’d want to lead a group of campers after a full year of teaching and four young children of my own is beyond them. I’m not gonna lie, while it is nice to have this time with my lovely children, they are bound to drive me nuts from time to time. In the summer it’ll probably happen more frequently. So I like to have a plan of some sort. Not necessarily a lesson plan, but think of it as a daily schedule at the local day camp for kids.
Don’t be afraid to have a schedule. You can follow it to a “T,” loosely follow, or even follow it as needed. I can’t afford the high prices of summer camps, so it is up to me to keep these young minds and bodies active. And just like a camp has a day plan, I figure there’s no harm in having a schedule to follow and something that the kids can look forward to. It is so easy for us to get stuck watching tv, or playing on electronic devices all day. Myself included. It’s easy, but of course, that can only last for so long before the “B” word slips out. Therefore, I adapt to my new summer role and become “Mom, the camp counselor.”
How to get started with Your Daily Schedule
Now don’t worry. We don’t have to get crazy here, planning each and every hour of the day unless that works for you. If your kids are early risers, the longer days and later bedtimes can make the day seem quite long. If they’re starting to sleep in later and later like my preteens, the day can whiz by and feel like there wasn’t any time to do anything. A little planning ahead gives them something to look forward to and can break up the hours in the day. What you do doesn’t have to be a big deal. The fact that you’re going to do something usually creates excitement. From my experience in the classroom, kids get excited about knowing what’s coming up next.
Types of Summer Schedules
There are many schedules out there for summer. I like to use a child-friendly checklist that allows for some creativity within our day. Sometimes I want to follow a schedule that’s hour by hour. Other days I want to only have ideas of what we could do and decide as I go. I tend to change things up a lot depending on my kids’ age at the time, and what is easy for me to manage. The last few summers, I’ve been using a daily check-off list called “Summer Rules” made by Mique from Thirty Handmade Days. I like it because it covers the basics like brushing teeth and getting dressed, to adding bits of creativity throughout the day before they can even think about using electronics. Additionally, I also like to hang up a daily idea schedule. For example, Monday might be “Make it Monday” where you can choose something to make, bake, or create, etc. Another idea could be “Let’s Move Mondays” and do something that gets your bodies moving.
Tips for Starting a Summer Schedule
You can scour Pinterest for already made templates and ideas, but how do you get started? Simple. Decide how you want to run your day. Do you like a loose schedule, where you can fill in the blanks as you go, or do you want to know what you’re doing every half hour? What would be better for your kids and you?
My kids love a check-list. So I print off a schedule for each child, slip it in a plastic page protector, and they can get a dry erase marker and check off as they go. The next day they can erase it and start over. Sometimes I only print one because that printer ink has a habit of running out fast. They can choose their marker color and share the list. It works for us because they can do activities for as long as they want. If they get tired of one thing then they can move onto the next thing.
How to Plan Each Day
My girls also love looking at what kind of activity each day of the week will bring. I’ve even gone as far as making a list of ideas that we can do on “Make it Monday,” or “Take a Trip Tuesday,” or whatever day it happens to be in case we feel like we don’t have any ideas. Write down and repeat the ideas you had the most fun doing. You can rotate them into your schedule again.
But maybe you need your day to be more scheduled. In that case, you can write down hour by hour or however long of increments you need to include what you are going to do. Don’t forget a few breaks during the day for eating or snacks. I like to include a 1 to 2-hour nap or quiet time if you don’t have any napping kids to give yourself a chance to recharge and get ready for the end of the day. You still need energy for dinner and any bedtime routines. I don’t know about you, but by then I’m pretty wiped out.
What to Plan and How to Plan
Try to incorporate some of your wants and needs. If you want to include exercising in your day, make that part of everyone’s day. Every time I lay down my yoga mat, the kids always want to join me. I don’t know if they actually like doing yoga, or they think that standing in those poses is just silly and weird. My little one always tells me that she has to do her “loga.”
I always like to catch up on my own hobbies in the summer. Teaching my kids how to do some of the things that I like allows me to feel like I get to have a little of my own fun too. I love to sew. While I don’t always teach them how to sew, they love to use my fabric scraps to make little things for their dolls.
It’s hard to be active or on all day long, so including reading time, maybe a learning time, or a time when your child can do something independent will give you a break here and there as well. I always like to look at several different schedules and then come up with one that works for me. And if it is not working, change it!
Don’t forget to let your kids be a part of it. Let them know what you’re planning to do in kiddo language, especially if they’re really young. Allow them to help come up with the schedule, or ask them what kinds of activities would they like to try to do this summer.
If you have little ones, model what to do and have them copy you. Templates with pictures will help a lot. Once they understand what they’re going to do, you wouldn’t believe how much fun it is for them to see what’s next or check off something they have accomplished for the day.
Questions About Getting your summer plan started
- What if it isn’t working?
- Think about what seems or feels hard when implementing your schedule and then change it, or take it out altogether. Do you feel too scheduled, or is there not enough planned to fill your day?
- What if we don’t want to follow it every day?
- Only follow the schedule on the days you feel like you need it.
- Is this a 7 day week schedule or only weekdays?
- I only use it for the weekdays, but I find some of my kids like to do it every single day. We tend to get out more on the weekend when my husband is home to help. Do it for as many days as you need it.
- Where do you find schedules?
- I love to search on Pinterest. I also use Teachers Pay Teachers website where teachers make printables and sell them. Sometimes I make it myself. It can be as fancy as you like it.
- What do you mean by an every half hour or hour to hour schedule?
- You can plan things out like this: 7:30-8:00 Wake up, get dressed, make bed 8:00-8:30 Eat breakfast 8:30-9:00 Morning Walk etc.
Enjoy your summer with your kiddos. I hope you schedule in lots of good times where great memories are made with your loved ones.
Thanks for reading my post. Hope to see you back for more soon!