Monday, July 6, 2015

One month of summer flew by. One thing that I was finding difficult so far is achieving a good balance between freedom and structure.
Maintaining Balance During Summer Vacation

Busy and Hot Summer Days

June was a busy month for us with three weeks of summer camps and a lot of workload for my husband and me. Smarty actually had less free time than she usually does, because she was signed up for full days in case we were not able to pick her up earlier. On most days she was home at around 4 pm – happy, but also exhausted after having spent time outside during our heat wave. Not surprisingly, she didn’t want to do much in the afternoon but to be left alone and to “be free to do what she wanted”.

Free Summer Nights

Some kids love lack of structure and do amazingly well in self-directed environment, but Smarty is not that child, at least not when she is on her own. She didn’t spend much time in any creative pursuits. All she wanted to do was either to read or to play on the computer where she still has a limit of 30 minutes a day for play and 30 minutes a day for learning. No learning was taking place as she only wanted to unwind with games. I think it was OK for these 3 busy weeks, and I wonder how the balance will shift in July where her next 3 weeks will be a lot less structured – first with her grandparents in New Jersey, then with her father who takes 2 weeks off for their traditional "Papa-daughter summer staycation".

Finding Balance Cupcakes

I think the balance between “guided” and “non-guided” activities will be very different depending on the age of your kids and the number of kids in your family. Honestly, I was hoping for more “freedom” for my daughter this summer, but I am not OK with her spending her entire time on the computer or reading through our comics collection. So we have about an hour or so of “guided” activities each afternoon – baking, making, doing science, or going to the pool. Then, starting on July 1, I reintroduced “15 min of math” after she is ready for bed, and I am teaching her how to solve more complex word problems using “70 Must-Know Word Problems, Grade 5”.  Smarty actually enjoys them quite a bit, once she wrapped her mind around the fact that I am not expecting her to solve them without my help. I am hoping to maintain this kind of “freedom” and “structure” balance during the busy weeks, so we have some time to connect together and some time for Smarty to maybe tap into her own creative flow that goes beyond her desire to fill her day with books.

Your Turn

Finding a balance between freedom and structure
How does summer balance look like in your house?

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Ticia said...

We're still working on finding it. In my kids' case I'm learning/re-learning that an activity I give them is almost always a jumping off point for what they really want to do.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Balance is very difficult to find. We've definitely been in the more unstructured category so far, mainly because I've been too busy to entertain or haul them around. I was worried they were just floating...but I've also been surprised by the interests a few of them have picked up. After a while, the screen time and comics can lead somewhere, or be left behind, which is kind of interesting to see.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Balance is an "always a work in progress" thing for me.