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Making Summer Plans: Planning Summer Schedules for Your School-Age Kids

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source: StormyDog

source: StormyDog

Because my oldest is only four, summertime doesn’t look much different than the rest of the year for us. However, my friend Shaina, who blogs at Food for My Family, shares her summer planning process below, and she includes a lot of great ideas and hints for making the most of your summer!

Summer schedules can be difficult to organize because there are so many variables involved. Whether it’s sports, swimming lessons, camp schedules or vacations, having kids home from school all day or in a summer program, there are so many things to consider.

For my family, summer means my oldest is home from school and my four-year-old is suffering from preschool withdrawal. The summer does away with school schedules, but it brings with it sports, camp and vacations to work into the mix. Because I work from home, my kids are with me anytime they aren’t in school, and adding a nine-year-old to our everyday routine has definite changes on the dynamic of the everyday here.

A few things to consider when planning out your summer schedule with your kids:

:: Are your kids at home or in a summer program or at daycare during the weekday?

:: Do your kids participate in extracurricular activities such as sports or summer camps?

: Will you have a summer learning program in place?

:: Are there different chores in the summer versus the school year?

:: What vacations do you have planned?

Scheduling Activities

The first area I looked at when considering our summer schedule was working vacations and camps and sports into the weekly schedule. With my four-year-old eager to start sports and my nine-year-old attending two weeks of summer camp through our local university, I was already beginning to feel stretched in more than one direction.

1. Set a limit to the number of activities. For us, this meant limiting the weeks of day camp for my daughter and letting her choose only one extracurricular activity outside of that. Because my four-year-old son is so young, we signed him up for an introductory sports program that teaches both basic soccer and baseball skills. He’ll be participating in two sports, but the time commitment is the same for this as it was if we just picked one of the sports, and this way he’ll still be able to decide which sport he’s more interested in as we look to the future.

While it would be great to be able to have your kids do everything they ever wanted to do over the summer, setting a limit on the number of activities will be less stressful for you and your children. You won’t be running from dance class to swimming lessons and rearranging work schedules and carpooling every day of the week, and they’ll be able to run through the sprinkler in the late afternoon and ride their bike down the street to the neighbor’s house during the day.

2. Schedule free days. When looking at our options for sports, we had to choose from a list of possible days and times. One thing we made sure to do was to give ourselves days where we had nowhere to be. We want to be able to enjoy the weather and have the ability to spend a lazy evening, grilling in the backyard, taking a walk around the neighborhood to our local Dairy Queen. The balance of free days with scheduled days will help you appreciate the summer months and give everyone a chance to relax. They are also a wonderful time to schedule any random family outings you may have planned as a staycation.

source: Shaina/Food for My Family

source: Shaina/Food for My Family

3. Decide what your priorities are. When looking at violin camp for my daughter, I realized our vacation schedule coincided with the final concert at the end of the session. She was also going to miss three of the 4 of the 14 days of the camp. After pouting, I decided it was probably not worth our time or our money to enroll her because of those things. While I could switch our vacation days, this would not change the other four days she would be missing, and seeing as our time is limited by the weekend and other people’s availability, it would eat into our four-day weekend significantly. Additionally, the vacation is something the entire family looks forward to each year. As upsetting as it is to not be able to attend violin camp, there will be other violin camps in the future.

Choosing one thing over another is never easy, but looking at all of the people involved and determining the overall importance of an activity can help you decide where it falls on the priority list. If that means saying no to some things, try to look for alternatives. In our case, I will be teaching my daughter violin basics to make up for the missed information she would have gained at camp.

Educational Activities and Chores

The other aspect of summer schedules that we find critical is the everyday routine we have at home. As I said before, I work from home with my four kids. During the school year, my kids have regular routines and responsibilities, but the summer changes things some. There is a whole world beyond the patio door that can be added to things to take care of, and I am a strong believer in the importance of involving my kids in the nature that we find all around us. I’m anxious to begin reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder as part of the Simple Mom Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book Club next month.

Not only do the possible chores change, but we also have a whole host of things to consider when we take into account continuing some form of education when school is not in session. We strive to keep our children’s minds active at all times, and we have a list of educational activities they can choose from on a daily basis. One idea I took from Mandi is to do nature observation journals. She has been doing them with the tadpoles near her home, and I recently started some for the morning glory seeds my kids are growing in the backyard.

This summer we’re trying a point system for both the educational activities and the chores. Each day is worth five possible points, and each activity/chore is worth one point. We’re looking for a split of two educational activities to three chores. At the end of the week, the points are tallied and added towards a grand total. The points can be traded in for the monetary equivalent (five points per dollar) or for certain activities and outings that we have selected with the kids.

We have been trying to teach our four-year-old and two-year-old the meaning of money and how to save for something larger than a $0.92 Hot Wheels car, so this system gives them a way to earn money and “bank” it until they reach a goal.

I found wipe boards at Michael’s on clearance a few months ago. They have a glass front that the kids can use a dry erase marker on. I printed out the weekly sheets and now have a place where they can mark their points daily and total them at the end of the week.

I’ve made the chore chart and list of possible activities into a downloadable/printable spreadsheet for you to use as well.

What does your summer schedule look like? How do you find the right balance of activities and free time for your family?

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About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5.5, 4, 2.5 and a baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

7 Responses to “ Making Summer Plans: Planning Summer Schedules for Your School-Age Kids ”

  1. [...] can find me at Organizing Your Way today talking about our summer schedules and how to organize them when school lets out for [...]

  2. What a great list for covering all of the aspects of the summer! I work part-time, so we have found a great babysitter for June, and my son will go to a social skills programs for July and part of August. We are also planning a trip to see my family in the Midwest – it feels good to actually have things lined up this year.

    I need to sit down and make a list of the specific goals I have for my son this summer. We need to cover some of the social stuff he will encounter in first grade that is still challenging for him, and work on following directions without whining and arguing, but we are also going to have a lot of fun time and be outside a lot more than in the past.

    So glad to have found your site!

    Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle’s last blog post…To-Do Tuesday – Week Sixteen


  3. [...] Are you busy making Summer plans? Organizing Your Way has a great article on planning Summer schedules for your school-age kids. [...]

  4. [...] Planning Summer Schedules for Kids by Organize Your Way [...]

  5. These are fantastic and right along the lines of what we’re doing. I do try to plan one “field trip” a week and we have one activity per week with my local mom’s group. My mom’s group outings include tours of the local pizza parlor, grocery store, fire station, and pet store (the pizza place just asks that you buy a slice of pizza and the rest are free). And our “field trips” are to places I already have a membership – Aquarium, science museum, state park. I also have chores and workbooks/educational activities the boys need to do to “trade in” for time on the PS3. And we go to the pool almost every day!

    Mimi @ The Things We Do’s last blog post…Wordless Wednesday: Playing in the Rain


  6. Your organizational plan is kid-perfect. My children are older now, but I still struggle with providing the right amount of structure and un-structured activities. A nice article on providing academic structure is found at


  7. [...] about you? Do you have any summer plans in mind [...]

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