Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Home-School Your Kids This Summer

Summer is looming. It may not seem so with the lingering cold temperatures and the constant rain in the East Coast, but it’s coming. While summer is fabulous in many ways, those of us with children at home understand the challenges that 3 long months with no school can present. Especially this summer.

Like many of you, I have to cut back this year on summer camps, babysitters, and vacations. So how do we get through this summer without going crazy? Without our kids dying from boredom, atrophying in mind and body, and feeling every pinch of the economic crisis?

Ladies, it’s time to home school. Just for the summer.

And like any good teacher, you need a Plan. A Lesson Plan. Just as a teacher prepares for a successful semester in the classroom, you can be preparing now for a full, enriching, fabulous summer with your kids that you will always remember.

So let me dust off my old teacher’s hat and share my strategies on how to prepare a lesson plan (or “Unit Plan” would be more accurate, for you teachers out there):

-State your objectives. What is your goal for your kids this summer? What kinds of things would you like your children to learn or develop? Reading? Manners? Social skills? Empathy? Nature Awareness? Concentrate on just a few and write them down.

-Set up “classroom rules”. All good teachers are able to get their students to behave much better than they normally do at home. They set high standards, and have clear consequences and rewards. At home, we can (and should) raise the bar, too. If the rules are coupled with a fun weekly reward, the kids should rise to the occasion.

-Do your research and grab your calendar. This is the fun part. Go online NOW and read your paper. Write down anything and everything that sounds interesting and fun that’s coming up this summer. Where we live in Virginia, there are tons of outdoor festivals, state parks, free concerts, library story times, pick-your-own blackberry farms, you name it. Not to mention all the regular museums and tourist attractions we tend to ignore. If you write these things on your calendar, you will avoid having to think when asked the question, “Mom, what are we doing today?”

-Team Teach: Let some of your friends in on your new strategy, and work together. Invite other kids along on some of your adventures, and allow other parents to reciprocate. Ergo, your free babysitting.

-Have an “emergency lesson plan” folder. Veteran teachers always have a backup plan for when the VCR breaks, the activity ends early, or something just plain doesn’t work. At home, we also need to have some contingency plans for rain, illness, or just miserable humidity and heat. Start a file with ideas that appeal to you.

-Read. Every teacher will tell you that this is the key to success- not fancy camps, exotic vacations, golf lessons, or tutors. Just read. Go to the library. Have a set time the kids read each day, with and without you.

We can all have a wonderful summer, despite (and I argue, because of) our lack of economic resources. By taking action now, we can ensure that our kids will want for nothing in terms of education, activity, and attention – even without spending a dime.

-TWM

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