Monday, June 2, 2014

From Planet Smarty Pants: Planning Smart Summer for children age 5-10

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Planning Summer Time

We have only one week left of school, and summer planning is in full swing. I am very grateful for my husband’s flexible schedule that will allow him to take some time off, so our 7 year old daughter will have 5 weeks of camps, 1 week of travel, and 4 weeks of staying home this summer. She is really looking forward to her first solo flight to New Jersey to see Babushka and Dedushka and to a week in Camp Galileo. The other three weeks of camps will be in her familiar environment of YMCA after school facility that she attends during the school year.

Setting Summer Goals

Summer Week Plan
We also spent some time talking with our daughter about her summer goals. She wrote a list of things that she wants to do this summer and then tried to spread them over weeks. While I don’t think that this strategy makes sense, at least she gave her goals some thought and they include working with her favorite art material – clay, mastering Engino Simple Machines set, learning to juggle, learning to make her own smoothies and French toast, and practicing her ukulele.

Learning to Spend Your Time Wisely

While we like Smarty’s summer goals, my husband and I talked a lot recently how our daughter doesn’t seem to be able to deal well with unstructured time. I don’t think this would be a problem for a family with several children, but she is an only child, and she doesn’t play much on her own. Usually she spends her free time first using up all her available computer time (we limit it) and then reading. This Saturday, for example, she spent an entire day reading through Book 4 of Warriors: New Prophecy series. I’ve never thought that I will have to coax my child away from books into other activities, but here we are trying to do just that.

“Rules of the Game” for Summer

Visual Weekly Planning Card
My husband and I had a discussion on how to help our daughter balance her desire for computer and books with other interests. We agreed that we would really like our daughter to spend more time on the following activities – writing, art, outside adventures, making/building, and music. My husband made her a weekly summer planning card, and we suggested the following rules to her:
  1. She has to do at least one activity on this card before she “unlocks” her 30 minutes of computer time.
  2. Every activity should take at least 30 minutes, so it cannot be something that she will do to “get it over with”.
  3. If she completes the row (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) on this card, she will unlock bonus 30 minutes of computer time.
We tested this concept last week, and it worked quite well. Smarty was drawing, making fuse beads flowers, and spending plenty of time outside. In fact, she even had computer-free days by her own choice and saved computer time to use on the weekend. However, we saw a snag with music – something that she cannot do on her own. Her desire to practice music and my husband’s availability to help her did not match this week and frustrated both of them. We decided to replace music with cooking going forward, because cooking and helping in the kitchen is another skill that we want to reinforce this summer.

Your Turn

How do you encourage your kids to spend their time wisely?

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maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I love the way you are approaching summer! I have to limit how much time Emma reads, because otherwise there are days when it is the ONLY thing she does.

My kids have chore charts that are also how-to-spend-your-time charts (need to blog about it, sometime), and we plan to switch out the cards today to reflect summertime rather than school - no more "get to school on time" and "homework" cards - hooray!

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

I love the "Rules of the Summer" chart - such a great idea! She may just find that she enjoys the things she "has" to do and keep at them!

Ticia said...

Your chart is a great idea, I've toyed with making similar types of cards for some of their school work from time to time, but haven't gone through with it yet.

We set timers, lots and lots of timers, because surprise surprise my kids lose track of time easily, and don't get stuff done.

I was the kid who had to have her book taken away from me. I was teasing my friend Amanda a while ago how she stole my book on a church trip because the youth pastor wanted me to talk to people and not read books.

Cassie Osborne said...

I love the rules of summer. We are doing something similar for the summer. I'm hoping it helps with the summer slide and a few other things.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Interesting. Summer for us is basically free-do-what-you-want-time. Watching TV or playing on the computer gets boring after a while...then they come looking for something to do. Sometimes I have things planned, but most of the time I give them my favorite quote, "Bored people are boring people, and right now you're boring me. Go find something to do!" then let them flounder - eventually they get bored with being bored, and find something creative that I never would have thought of to keep themselves occupied.

Andrea Vasey said...

Sounds like you have a great summer planned! Thanks for linking up to this weeks #parentingpinitparty

Anonymous said...

I really like the idea. I hope it works out for you. I think I might try something similar with my kids to offer them a chance at extra computer time while keeping them busy with constructive activities.

Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

Deceptively Educational said...

Your summer activities card is sheer genius! I wish I was as organized to set goals and put something like that together!

Boy Mama Teacher Mama said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing at After School!

Just A Touch Of Crazy said...

Visiting from the super mommy club! We have the same sort of issue with our oldest child. I'm working on being more structured with him, but apparently it's hard for me too! Great post!